Captain Kirk leaves for NHL

Muller signs coaching contract with Montreal Canadiens

Players wanted Muller, seen here at FebFest 2006, to stay with the Golden Gaels.
Players wanted Muller, seen here at FebFest 2006, to stay with the Golden Gaels.
Journal File Photo

Kirk Muller is leaving his position as head coach of the Golden Gaels hockey team for greener, more high-profile pastures.

The former NHLer is returning to the Montreal Canadiens, the team with which he won the Stanley Cup in 1993, as an assistant coach.

Up until the June 20 announcement, Muller said he was sticking with the Gaels for at least another year.

“I really thought I’d be at Queen’s for two or three years, but things change—in this case in a hurry,” he told the Kingston Whig-Standard. “In the end, this was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

John McFarlane, chair of athletics and recreation, called the switch “a career move” for Muller.

“I’ve been in close contact with him over the last three months,” he said. “We’ve had very open dialogue … For me, personally, it wasn’t a surprise.”

Muller didn’t return the Journal’s phone calls.

Sam Colizza, Sci ’07 and a player on the Golden Gaels hockey team, said he’s not surprised by Muller’s decision.

“I kind of knew that they were after him, especially when [Muller’s former teammate Guy] Carboneau was the head coach—him and [Muller] are good friends,” he said. “If he’d passed up this opportunity it might not have come up again, especially in Montreal, because I know he really likes it there.

John Clarke, PhysEd ’07 and another player on the team, said he probably would have done the same thing in Muller’s shoes.

“He told us he was going to stay, but I think the general sense of the team was that … we just assumed if the job was open, he would probably take it,” he said. “We had hoped he would stay, but at the same time, it’s a professional decision and we totally understand his reason for going.”

This year was Muller’s first as a coach. He took a two-year break from the sport after retiring from the NHL in 2003.

McFarlane said he thinks Muller learned a lot from his year at Queen’s.

“I think he fell in love with coaching when he came here,” McFarlane said. “I think he proved to himself that he could coach, and that he wanted to.”

Colizza said Muller was a good coach.

“For his first season, he’s probably one of the better coaches I’ve had in terms of both on and off the ice, just the amount that I learned,” he said.

Clarke said Muller was a knowledgeable coach who treated the team well.

“He brought a real sense of professionalism to our program,” he said. “I think it was a bit of an adjustment for him to come down to the university level from the professional level.”

Colizza added he thinks Muller enjoyed his time at Queen’s.

“You could tell just by how he was at practice and in the dressing room, you could tell he was having a good time,” Colizza said. “I think it also was a learning process for him.”

McFarlane said he’ll meet with Muller this week to begin the transition process and the search for a new coach.

“I hope within the next three to four weeks we have someone,” he said. “We’ve already received about five applications … there is definite interest.”

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