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It looks like we might have a final list for options as the next Ottawa Senators head coach. Bob McKenzie reported that Ottawa was granted permission to speak to Dallas Stars assistant coach Rick Bowness, giving them six candidates at this point:
I am a bit surprised that Brad Shaw hasn’t been officially linked to the team or given an interview, as the connections there seem obvious. Columbus has been eliminated for a week already, so we probably would’ve heard about his name (just like we did with Bowness) if he was a serious candidate. Others such as Sheldon Keefe (not interviewed) and Mike Yeo (hired in Philadelphia) will also not be coming to Ottawa, although there’s an outside chance that Shaw gets interviewed at the very end. Still though, it looks like Pierre Dorion has the six men he is considering for the job.
And I have to say, it’s an incredibly underwhelming list.
I just don’t see how any of Marc Crawford, DJ Smith, Rick Bowness, or Jacques Martin are long-term
solutions with this team, even if there’s a possibility that someone such as Martin would be able to be a bit of an upgrade in the beginning. Bowness was obviously the first coach in Senators history, and he had an abysmal .204 winning percentage in three and a half seasons. He was dealing with a putrid expansion team, but he still didn’t inspire enough confidence to be the right coach when the team became good later in the 1990s.
He has been a well-respected assistant coach in Dallas, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Phoenix, and New York (I), and he has had lots of success on the teams he has been on:
Still though, it’s hard to say how much of that success is due to his presence, and I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with bringing in someone who was last a head coach for an entire season back in 1994-95. Sure, Troy Mann and Nate Leaman have never coached in the NHL either, but at least they have been in head coach positions and not assistants. Considering Bowness coached the Senators before I was even born, I don’t have much authority to analyze how good of a coach he was, but judging by the reaction from fans on Twitter, I don’t think he is viewed very fondly in Ottawa.
I think I would be fine if he was brought in as an assistant coach, but he might stay in Dallas if it is just going to be a lateral move.
For these six options, I am definitely hoping for either Troy Mann or Nate Leaman. Mann did a great job in the AHL by maximizing value from their best prospects this season, and he had a solid track record in Hershey as well. He has worked with a lot of young players in the organization, and it might be smart to give him a chance. Similar things can be said about Leaman, as although he is unfamiliar with the organization, he would be a great coach for the younger players, as he knows how to communicate with college-age players. Could either of these two fall flat on their faces at the NHL level? Sure, but the upside is that you strike gold and find a coach to hold onto for a long time.
However, as I said earlier, I’m just not excited at the possibility of hiring either Crawford, Martin, Smith, or Bowness. They have the necessary experience to have a certain base level of competence, but they aren’t going to be amongst the best coaches in the league. Ottawa is never going to be able to spend big on coaches, so the only way they should go about their business is by looking for underappreciated coaches like Mann and Leaman and try to uncover their own Jon Cooper.
I honestly have no idea where Ottawa is leaning on this, because they have re-hired former employees before, but they have also sometimes hired unknown people. In terms of when the hiring will be made, expect an announcement within the next couple of weeks: