Jacques Martin was ready to go. After all, the Montreal Canadiens were calling.

He was hired as the Canadiens' coach yesterday, leaving his job as Florida Panthers general manager for a storied NHL franchise that was swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Martin, introduced at a Bell Centre news conference, said his fourth NHL coaching job was a "tremendous opportunity."

"When you look at the players who are in the organization, there is a strong nucleus, a strong base, to build a winning team and I'm really looking forward with excitement to leading this team next year," he said.

The 56-year-old Martin replaces Montreal GM Bob Gainey behind the bench. Gainey took over after firing Guy Carbonneau on March 9.

This is the first time the Canadiens have a coach with previous NHL coaching experience since Jacques Demers was fired four games into the 1995-96 season.

"It was a priority for me that we find a head coach that had seen a lot of situations," Gainey said. "We love Montreal as a marketplace, if that's the right word, but it comes with the demands and expectations and pressures. And I think Jacques has already proven that's well within his capacity to handle not only the coaching but the environment in Montreal."

Martin has been the Panthers' GM the past three seasons and coached the team from 2004 to 2008. He also coached St. Louis and Ottawa and was coach of the year in 1999 with the Senators. He has a career record of 517-406-119.

Martin praised the Detroit Red Wings as an example of the two-way style of play he espouses.

"When I started with Ottawa I was categorized as a defensive coach and when I left, the last 5 years in Ottawa we had one of the highest-scoring teams," Martin said. "I really believe when you have the puck, you're on offense, and when you don't have the puck, you're on defense."


* Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Kris Draper is able to play but he might sit the gritty forward in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals tonight in Pittsburgh. Babcock said he's reluctant to change his lineup because his team is leading the Penguins in the series, 2-0.

Pavel Datsyuk, who has been out with a foot injury, is not expected to play tonight.

* Potential owner Jim Balsillie has filed an application for the relocation of the Phoenix Coyotes, a move expected to happen later this week.

Balsillie told the Canadian Press that he filed the application with the league office. It includes details why he believes the NHL should consider his proposal to purchase the team for $212.5 million and bring it to Hamilton, Ontario.

* Former Dallas star Joe Nieuwendyk was introduced as the new general manager of the Stars. *