The way Doug Jarvis spent the past year sounds like a dream for most hockey fans. After his contract as an assistant coach in Montreal was not renewed when Jacques Martin took over behind the bench for the Canadiens, Jarvis was left without a job, but had all the time he wanted to follow the sport he's always loved.
But something was missing — something he hopes he has back now that he's accepted a position as an assistant with the Bruins on Wednesday.
"Last year I was basically a fan of the game," said Jarvis in a conference call on Wednesday afternoon. "I watched a lot of hockey. I wasn't working for anybody last year, so I'm excited to have the opportunity to get back into a coaching capacity.
"I missed being close to the game," added Jarvis. "Having been in it for a number of years as a player and as a coach, I think I missed the coaching aspect. I missed the teaching that goes with coaching — helping and sharing with players my experience and assisting in their development. I was quite excited when this opportunity came along."
The Bruins are equally excited to add a coach with Jarvis' extensive resume. Jarvis, 55, won four Stanley Cups as a player in Montreal and a fifth as an assistant with Dallas in 1999. He still holds the NHL's ironman streak, as he never missed a game in 13 seasons as he played in 964 straight contests with Montreal, Washington and Hartford.
He followed that with 14 seasons as an assistant with the Stars organization in Minnesota and Dallas, two seasons as the head coach of Montreal's AHL affiliate in Hamilton and four years as an assistant in Montreal.
"I want to let you know how thrilled we are to be able to have Doug Jarvis join our staff," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "I think when the job became available, the one thing we wanted to do was replace some of the experience we lost with Craig Ramsay. Having known Doug for a while and having worked with him briefly in Montreal, I think his experience in coaching and also playing was very valuable in our decision-making."
It was in the Canadiens' organization that Julien formed a bond with Jarvis. They worked closely when Jarvis took over in Hamilton the year after Julien was promoted to Montreal's top spot, and Julien eventually brought Jarvis up as an assistant before Julien was fired 41 games into the 2005-06 season.
"We had good chemistry," said Julien. "He's going to blend in perfectly. I think it will be a smooth transition."
That transition will be key, as Jarvis will be replacing a vital cog in the Bruins' coaching machinery. Ramsay worked primarily with the defense, which he helped finish first in the league in goals against in 2008-09 and second this past year, and he was also an important mentor working closely with many of the club's young players. Ramsay's skills helped land him the head coaching job in Atlanta in June.
Jarvis won't fill all of Ramsay's duties directly, as Doug Houda will be moving down from the press box to join Julien and fellow assistant Geoff Ward behind the bench. Jarvis will slide into Houda's spot up top, which will be a different role for him from his previous coaching stops.
"It will be a different perspective, one I'm looking forward to," said Jarvis. "From up top, there's certainly a need to have an eye on the game and making in-game adjustments and getting that information down to the bench. I think other things that go along with that role will be pre-scouting the opposition in preparation for games and I think doing a lot of the normal things coaches do, whether it's working with players one-on-one with video and obviously jumping in on practice with the other coaches in drills."
While Jarvis won't be filling Ramsay's exact duties, Julien does envision the new assistant bringing a lot of the same skills and attributes to the staff.
"I think he's got a lot of the same things that Craig had as far as the hockey knowledge and the experience," said Julien. "He's a guy that's won a lot of Stanley Cups as a player and as a coach, so he's got that behind him.
"Even working with the defensemen, he's a lot like Craig Ramsay in that he's a former forward that also worked with the D. He's also had great success in Montreal dealing with the power play," added Julien. "He's been in all kinds of different situations and I think that's what's good about it. He's got the same kind of experience as Craig. With his personality and the way he works with players, I think you're going to see a smooth transition. The guys are going to gravitate to Doug as quick as they gravitated to Craig."