The Senators have been one of the most trigger-happy teams in the NHL in the past decade when it comes to bench bosses and the carousel needs to stop. Perhaps new GM Pierre Dorion is the solution to the problem.
The Ottawa Senators have fired coach Dave Cameron and assistants Andre Tourigny and Rick Wamsley, while another coach, Jason Smith, has been offered a different role in the organization.
With Pierre Dorion officially taking over as GM for the ailing Bryan Murray, this was a move that makes sense. But boy, it better be the last coaching change this franchise makes for a while.
Under Murray, the Senators had six different coaches (including Murray) since he took over as GM in 2007-08. Some of it was certainly results-oriented and in the case of Jack Adams winner Paul MacLean, it sounded as though the coach may have let success get to his head, losing the room in the process (this is how I picture it).
Did Cameron and staff deserve to get the axe? Well, Ottawa had one of the worst power plays in the league, despite having offensive defenseman extraordinaire Erik Karlsson in the lineup for all 82 games. The penalty-kill was even worse, finishing second-last in the NHL. So that didn’t help.
Goaltending wasn’t great and no team gave up as many shots per game. Also, only three teams shot less than the Senators. Overall compete level wasn’t too hot, according to center Curtis Lazar.
Which all goes to saying that Dorion was right to fire the staff and since he’s the new guy in charge, it makes sense for him to find his man for the job. But Dorion must choose wisely. He works for an owner in Eugene Melnyk who demands results and perhaps that put pressure on Murray in the past, but it’s not a way to do business in the NHL. Look at how the coaching carousel in Edmonton has knee-capped the Oilers in recent years (among other things).
If Murray was still GM, I would have actually made the case to keep Cameron and his crew, because if anything, Ottawa overachieved when they made the playoffs last year. If not for Andrew Hammond and Cameron giving a bigger role to youngsters such as Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman, the Senators wouldn’t have made it – and really, they probably didn’t have the talent to be there in the first place.
This season was the true outcome for a team with some nice pieces, but not a full puzzle. Murray never gave Cameron an elite center or depth on defense (Dion Phaneuf helps, but the timing of that deal made no sense, other than being out of desperation to make a post-season push). Cameron leaves the Senators with a 70-50-17 record in less than two full seasons as head coach, while Tourigny got exactly one season as an assistant to prove his worth.
Now it’s on Dorion to clean up the mess and the GM deserves to start with a clean slate. Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there, from Mike Yeo and Guy Boucher to Luke Richardson – AHL Binghamton’s coach and obviously someone Dorion knows well.
Whoever it is, they need time to succeed and some better players to do it with. Should that require short-term pain, then so be it. Otherwise, we’ll be writing this story again in a year and a half, wondering what the end game is in Bytown.