Kirk Muller made his coaching debut Friday night at the Ed Meagher Arena when Queens came into Montreal for a preseason game to prepare for the season. For Muller, it was his first experience behind the bench.
Muller played in Montreal with the Canadiens from 1991-1995 playing in 267 games. He scored almost a point a game during his tenure with the Habs and was on the last Canadiens team to win the Stanley Cup in 1993. He also served as the captain of the Habs for 1994 and 1995.
Muller takes over a Queens team that is one of the worst in the country, but he says he was intrigued by the challenge.
“I liked the idea of the great opportunity to start from the ground up and that’s what we’re trying to do at Queens. As long as I get guys who are keen and ready to learn we’re going to be alright.”
With university sports on the backburner in Canada, and not getting much notice from hockey fans, one could wonder why someone like Muller, a former NHL player, would work in a university environment. Muller said the timing was important and coaching a university team gives him the opportunity to look at all aspects of a program and decide what he likes best, and if he wants to proceed to a job in higher leagues.
“I was sitting at home in Kingston and the opportunity came up and I decided to get my feet wet and see whether or not I liked it. Working at Queens gives me an opportunity to look at recruiting, coaching, budgeting, and other things, so if I wanted to focus on one thing in the future, this makes me look at what I enjoy and what I don’t enjoy too much.”
When asked if the players looked up to him when he first stepped onto the ice with them, he said they did, and that it will ultimately help them.
“I did my time, and now it’s their turn to go out there and play the game and now it’s my time to give back. I think that I can teach them things that I’ve learned through my experience, but right now it’s about them and how they play on the ice,” Muller said.
Muller also pointed out key differences between university sports and Junior hockey.
“Studies are obviously the most important commitment because the guys are students first, which makes this a unique experience.”
As a former NHL player, Muller pointed out that coaching jobs are possible but says that for the time being his goal remains building Queens a solid program.
“My goal right now is to work with these guys at least for a year or two and then decide what I like a couple of years down the road. I could have gone back to Dallas and worked there but the timing was right when Queens came calling.”