With the 2011-2012 NHL season quickly approaching, the minds behind a few of the best Ottawa Senators Blogs have gotten together to answer the five major questions going into this season.
Having taken a look thus far at the future of Daniel Alfredsson and a few others, and what our expectations will be for the 2012 All-Star Game, today we are going to focus our attention behind the bench. With former Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean brought in to man the Sens bench, what are we to expect from him? With that in mind, here is question number four of our Sens blog round table.
With five coaches in the last five years, will Paul MacLean be given a chance to grow with the team, through the good times and the bad? Or will his tenure behind the bench be linked to the team's record?
Here are the thoughts from the best Sens blogs on the net:
Every coach's tenure is linked to the record the team assembles in front of him, so MacLean will be no different. However, even if the expectations of MacLean are pretty high, those of the team are pretty low; few people seriously think the Senators are competing for a playoff spot this year, and it's generally seen as a rebuilding year. So MacLean will certainly get the benefit of the doubt.
I can't see any circumstance where MacLean doesn't at least finish his first two seasons. Unlike Clouston, this was a hire that the Senators took their time with and Murray will have his back the whole way. The only fly in the ointment is the notion that Dave Cameron is Eugene Melnyk's guy and MacLean is Murray's guy. It's an odd situation when you have an assistant coach who the owner publicly backed for the head job. I wouldn't say it's a skeleton in the closet, but there's potential for problems down the road if the team goes into a really bad stretch under MacLean.
The easy answer to that is any coaches tenure will be linked to his record. Your past accomplishments only buy you so much time as a bench boss, regardless of what they are. People have a very short attention span and want to always be winning now. I can understand that sentiment though, when you're paying hard earned money you don't really want to hear we'll be competitive in 4 years, just keep paying in the mean time.
Having said that, I have to say I am really enthused by the hiring of Paul MacLean, much more so than Hartsburgh or Clouston, who I never liked from day one. MacLean comes from the most consistently winning franchise in hockey and has learned under one of the best coaches in the game. He has an awesome attitude and I think will bring the right mix of disciplinarian and motivator to get the players to play to their potential. I see him being our coach for quite awhile and making an impact, plus you gotta love that big stache.
I really can't imagine a scenario where Paul MacLean isn't here for the full three years on his current contract. From Ownership on down, everyone in the organization finally seems to be on the same page. The powers that be, along with the fans in this city, realize that this is going to be a young and relatively inexperienced hockey team next season, and likely for the next few seasons. I honestly believe that if certain things go right (Healthy Spezza and
Alfredsson, Bounce back year from Gonchar and Phillips, More of the Same from Anderson), the Sens can compete for a playoff spot as soon as this season but if they don't, MacLean definitely won't be the fall guy. The changed expectations around this team means that Paul MacLean, and his mustache, will be given the opportunity to grow with the team.
I think MacLean's tenure in Ottawa will be linked to the results the team produces. However, nobody expects the Senators to be contenders this year so his judgement will not be record based. I think it will be more on the development of a number of young players, as well as the year a number of the veterans have.
It was evident last year that many players gave up playing for former head coach Cory Clouston, and there was a variety of reasons for that. MacLean will have to tailor his coaching style to be all things to every player on the team. He will have to be tough and fair, understanding and patient, and will have to reward players based on performance and not salary.
With so many players having poor seasons last year, they will all need to have improvements on the ice this year to be considered a success for MacLean. Many believe that this rebuild will not be a long-term plan, but rather a year-or-two rebuild. I think in year twoMacLean will be judged a little more harshly by fans and media in Ottawa. MacLean will get a free pass this season, but next year the Sens will need to show improvement in the standings or questions will begin to be raised.
Now that you know how we feel about the 'stache behind the bench, let us know what you think.
Next week, we will wrap up our Round table series as we take a look at what the goal of this season should be. Until next time Sens Army.