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The Kiss of Death for Senators Coaches

April 19, 2019, 2:15 AM ET [4 Comments]
Trevor Shackles
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
You can follow me on Twitter @ShackTS

After the firing of Guy Boucher, the Senators will have had seven coaches since 2007, and nine if you include Bryan Murray and Marc Crawford as interim coaches (eight if Crawford gets re-hired). Nobody has been able to stay with the Senators for a long time since Jacques Martin left, and it’s been comical for quite some time. Paul MacLean is the longest-tenured coach in this era, and he only lasted just over three seasons from 2011-2014. Whoever the Senators bring in, they seem to have a bit of success in the beginning but then fall flat on their face in their second and/or third season.

The Senators seem to also give their coaches the kiss of death after they are fired.

Out of the seven coaches that have been with the team since 2007, not a single one has been a head coach in the NHL since leaving the organization. Obviously some cases are different than others, as Crawford could still easily get a job, whether it be Ottawa or elsewhere. However, he hasn’t been a head coach in the NHL since 2010-11 with Dallas, and he hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004 as a head coach either. If he doesn’t get the job in Ottawa, there is a decent chance that he might not get another chance besides other assistant positions.

Guy Boucher has proved to be a one-trick pony everywhere he goes, as he got both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators to game 7 of the Conference Finals in his first season, but was fired both times in his third season after missing the playoffs two years in a row. He also brought Bern SC to the semi-finals in the NLA, but was fired during the next season with a losing record. I don’t think he should be in the NHL, and I can’t imagine GMs around the league looking at his track record and have the desire to hire him. I’d be shocked if he ever gets a head coaching position in the NHL.

Dave Cameron coached almost two full seasons in Ottawa, but by the end of 2015-16 it was clear that he was not the right person for the job. He was an assistant in Calgary from 2016-18, but was not with a team this season. He had a successful OHL career with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, but I never hear his name come up when it comes to other teams looking at coaches, and I don’t think he will be getting another position as a head coach. There are plenty of assistant jobs to go around so I’m sure he will stay in the league, but he didn’t seem to be the right fit as a head coach.

Paul MacLean was actually the best coach out of this bunch, despite how we remember him at the end. He took the Senators to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 2012 and 2013, and he even won the Jack Adams in 2013. It looked like Ottawa finally hit the jackpot with a good coach, but he refused to play the best players (which included many young players), and that was his downfall in 2013-14 and the beginning of 2014-15. He was an assistant coach in Detroit from 2005-2011 and in Anaheim from 2002-04 and 2015-17, but he has not been in a head coaching role since leaving Ottawa. It’s been about four and a half years since leaving Ottawa, and anecdotally, I think I’ve only heard his name a few times in regards to being considered for head coaching positions. He might get a job down the road, but I think it’s more likely that he will bounce between assistant positions.

Cory Clouston coached the team for two and a half seasons, which is definitely longer than what it felt like, and the only position he has had since then is the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2011-12 and the Prince Albert Raiders from 2013-15. He has been unemployed from professional and junior hockey since then, and it would be absolutely stunning to ever see him get an NHL head coaching position again.

Craig Hartsburg had a hilariously short resume in Ottawa, lasting just 48 games. He had at least been an NHL head coach in Chicago and Anaheim before, although since leaving Ottawa in 2009, he has only been an assistant in Calgary in 2011-12 and an assistant in Columbus from 2012-16. The last time he finished a season as an NHL head coach was 1999-00, so I don’t think Hartsburg is going to be considered for a job anywhere around the league.

Last but not least, we have anotherhilariously short tenure in Ottawa with John Paddock. He lasted a tad longer with 64 games in the 2007-08 season, but he was replaced by Bryan Murray late in the season. He also had head coaching experience before with the Jets in the early 1990s, but he has only had one assistant position since then with the Flyers in 2013-14. He coached the Regina Pats from 2013-17, but it’s been 11 years since his last NHL head coaching position, so he’s also incredibly unlikely to ever get another job like that.

Crawford has by far the best chance out of any of these seven coaches to get a job in the NHL again, and that’s a huge indictment on the organization because I wouldn’t even say his chances are that great. None of these coaches could have made mediocre Ottawa teams into true cup contenders, but the fact that no other teams have been interested in failed Senators coaches just shows how bad they have been at hiring the best person for the position. As long as the front office is the same and Eugene Melnyk is the owner, it’s hard to be optimistic that it will change any time soon.

I understand that they won’t be able to afford expensive established coaches like Jon Cooper, Barry Trotz, or Joel Quenneville, but every one of the top coaches right now had to get started somewhere. There are plenty of bright minds in the minor leagues, the NCAA, Europe, and Junior, so it’s not as if it’s impossible for the Senators to find the right coach. As of now though, they still have the kiss of death until proven otherwise.
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