OTTAWA – Like everyone else Paul MacLean was surprised by Daniel Alfredsson’s decision to sign with the Detroit Red Wings, but the Ottawa Senators head coach says it’s time to move forward.
“I was disappointed like everybody,” MacLean said Friday afternoon. “At the same time Daniel’s earned the right to make that decision and he’s made it and moved on and we’re moving on. We’re going to progress without him.”
MacLean believes the Senators have enough leadership within its current group of players to fill any void left behind by Alfredsson’s absence.
“It’s a great opportunity for a number of our players to step into that leadership void and show they can be a bigger part of the team than maybe they’ve been in the past,” MacLean said. “It’s not just one guy that’s going to step up, one guy will represent as Daniel did with the captaincy, but leadership isn’t just a one person thing or a three person thing it’s an everybody thing. With me it’s everybody and that’s still going to be the expectation.”
MacLean says he wants a captain that “does it right every day and is a good representative of the team.”
“But the most important thing is you have to be here every day and you have to do it right,” he added.
The two most likely candidates are Jason Spezza and Chris Phillips. Both have been alternate captains and are well respected by their peers and the coaching staff.
There is no set timeline as to when a new captain will be selected as MacLean plans on conducting some due diligence. Players in consideration will be spoken to, management and coaching staff will be asked for input. Players will not be given a vote as to who they feel should be the next captain.
“The process that (general manager Bryan Murray) and I and my coaching staff have to go through is sifting through it and finding who’s going to be the best guy to represent the whole group,” MacLean said.
In addition to Alfredsson, the Senators made a number of other changes to its roster, most notably the addition of Bobby Ryan.
“He brings to us someone that’s a bona fide guy that’s scored 35 goals in the league,” MacLean said. “He shoots the puck in the net and that’s something we haven’t had here since I’ve been here.
“Having someone with that ability certainly should help our confidence as a team as far as it comes to scoring goals.”
The Senators struggled offensively last year averaging 2.33 goals-per-game to finish 27th in the league. Ryan will be counted on to boost those numbers.
While it’s anticipated that Ryan will play alongside Spezza, MacLean says chemistry will have a lot to do with how lines are made. Ryan could play with Spezza, Kyle Turris or even Mika Zibanejad.
Heading into camp it doesn’t appear that the Senators have a lot of room for change, but MacLean has always been an ardent believer that the best players play.
The Senators’ rookies will take part in a four-team rookie tournament starting next week and MacLean says close consideration will be given to anyone who manages to excel when given the opportunity.
Following the rookie camp a number of players will be invited to take part in the main camp and things will sort themselves out through performance.
“We’re going to play eight exhibition games and we’re going to sort out who the best players are or they’re going to sort it out themselves actually and the best 23 guys are going to stay here and play,” said MacLean. “If you’re not one of those 23 guys then we’ll have to make arrangements for them to play wherever that has to be, no matter what the circumstances are. The best players are going to be here and play.”
Despite a rash of devastating injuries last season the Senators advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season ,where they eventually lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games.
MacLean knows fans will be looking for much the same.
“Consistency is the hardest thing to do and the best way to success is to be consistent and if we’re consistent then I think the (fans) are going to like where we are,” he said.