(Ottawa) The first time Jacques Martin took a seat behind the Senators bench, more than 27 years ago, he faced the visiting Penguins on Saturday night, in his first home game since returning to the helm with Ottawa.

Martin, 71, was named head coach earlier this week, replacing D. J. Smith.

The club is mired in a series of six defeats.

Martin laughed when reminded of his first foray behind the Senators bench, a 4-2 loss to the Penguins on Jan. 24, 1996. He said he was hoping for a different result this time.

Martin spent seven years in the Penguins organization from 2013 to 2020, winning two Stanley Cups.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan has great respect for Martin.

“He was invaluable to me in Pittsburgh and helped us win the Cup twice,” Sullivan said. He truly embodies a voice of reason, with keen hockey sense.

Martin is confident in the abilities of his group.

“There’s a long way to go, obviously, but it’s one step at a time,” he said.

Martin found two adult daughters and four grandchildren in Ottawa. He himself grew up just outside the city.

He has many fond memories of his time in Ottawa, and finds it comforting to be in a familiar place.

“It’s a good feeling to come back here,” Martin said. It’s a great challenge because the team has fantastic young players, who have a lot of talent. »