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Muller leaves Habs to take head coaching job with Milwaukee

The Canadian Press

6/27/2011 11:46:46 AM

Kirk Muller was just like anyone in need of a job.

After going through a number of interviews and failing to land a head coaching gig in the NHL, he picked up the phone and started making cold calls. One of the first people he dialed was David Poile and it led to him being named head coach of the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals.

"I think you've got to be proactive," Muller said Monday on a conference call. "A lot of media up in Canada (knew) my whereabouts of doing interviews with Ottawa and Dallas and Minnesota and Jersey and that, (but) you can't just assume that people will think that you're going to be ready or your next step is going to the American Hockey League. ...

"Obviously, I knew the reputation of Milwaukee so that's why I reached out to David."

The Admirals have consistently been one of the top AHL teams and are coming off a season where they finished first in the West Division with a 44-22-14. Earlier this month, former coach Lane Lambert was promoted to an assistant role with the parent Nashville Predators.

Muller spent the past five seasons working as an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens and believes this change will give him the best opportunity to one day take over his own NHL team.

"(The AHL) is a great developing league for players and it's a great developing stage for coaches," said Muller. "For me, I think it's a great opportunity to put my stamp on a team -- to have your own team and get an identity on the type of team you'd like to have.

"You can do a lot of work as an assistant coach, but at the end of the day you don't have the final say."

In recent years, a number of AHL coaches have made the leap to the NHL. It's certainly been a trend this off-season as Dallas (Glen Gulutzan), Minnesota (Mike Yeo) and Winnipeg (Claude Noel) all filled their head coaching vacancies from within.

Poile is the longtime general manager of the Predators and was immediately interested when Muller reached out to him.

"Kirk Muller was everything we were looking for in our development coach," said Poile. "With his playing pedigree, experience as a captain and Stanley Cup winner, and his solid communication skills, we feel our young players and prospects are in great hands."

During his time in Montreal, Muller primarily handled the special teams under Guy Carbonneau and Jacques Martin.

He believes there will be a period of adjustment in Milwaukee. The 45-year-old will move his wife and two daughters to the city over the summer -- he's yet to even visit Milwaukee -- and knows the job will be pretty demanding.

"I expect it will be a lot more work," said Muller. "Being a head coach, you've got more responsibilities and longer hours. But I'm prepared to do that.

"I'm looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and getting to work."

Muller played for six NHL teams during a 19-year playing career, putting up 959 points in 1,349 games.

He spent one season in charge of his hometown Queen's University Gaels before accepting a job with the Canadiens in 2006. Now he's ready to take another step forward.

"It's been five years and I guess like a player you always want the ball," said Muller. "When you're playing, you want to be out there in the last minute.

"I guess now with the coaching I hit a stage where it was a great five years of experience of being there in Montreal, but it's time -- I want to just get out, get my own club and be a head coach."