Tuesday will long be remembered by Cory Clouston as one of the greatest of his life. Savor it, Mr. Clouston, because you may very well remember it as the day the Ottawa Senators set you up for failure.
Clouston is the new coach of the Senators and already he’s seeing how things run around here. We’re going to just put this out there, but we figure losing 1-0 to a rebuilding non-playoff team probably isn’t the most inspired effort the Senators could have put forth for their new bench boss.
The Senators could have hired Scotty Bowman or Pat Quinn – and they likely would have if not for the fact that they’re already paying two people not to coach for them – and not even they would have been able to pull the Sens out of this train wreck. So how exactly is a 39-year-old with just one-and-a-half years of pro coaching experience and not a game – sorry, one game now – in the NHL supposed to do it?
To make matters even more drastic, Clouston is surrounded by assistant coaches who are basically in the same boat he is. Greg Carvel has been an assistant for a few years and Luke Richardson still has to look at the scoresheet to see if he’s in the lineup. Contrast that to last summer when Craig Hartsburg – remember him? – wanted to hire longtime NHL assistant Wayne Fleming, but the Senators refused to pay Fleming what he thought he was worth and he went to coach in Russia instead.
The point is, Cory Clouston might be a terrific young coach, but he has been put in a no-win situation with a team that has been largely run into the ground. This is a team that has been circling the drain for the better part of 14 months now and there’s almost no chance Clouston, at this time with this team, is going to be able to stop that tide.
A wiser move by owner Eugene Melnyk would have been to reinstall Bryan Murray for his third tour of duty behind the Senators bench. At least then Murray would have been able to see up close the mess the Senators have become under his watch.
This column also appears in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.
Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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