Paul Maclean: His Fall From Grace and Road to Redemption

USA TODAY Sports

Some food for thought on Paul Maclean.

This season, Paul Maclean fell from grace with many Ottawa Senators fans, as we often found ourselves questioning his decisions. Based on his interview on Monday, I think he realizes that he contributed to the team's lacklustre play. He held himself accountable, saying "There’s lots of blame to go around, lots of it can be on me," so I think he will take this season as a lesson and learn from it. The following are some of my thoughts on coaching and Maclean.

The Complexity of Coaching

Coaching is no easy feat. It requires having a thorough understanding of the game, as well as strong social skills and intrapersonal understanding. Probably one of the toughest aspects of coaching, additionally, is that there are no set guidelines for how to coach and you're employment based predominantly on wins. Not only do coaches have to know a lot and win a lot, they’re expected to – at least in team sports – bind the players and build a cohesive unit. All of these things put a lot of pressure on coaches, especially ones who’ve had previous success, like Paul Maclean.

Now, having a strong leadership group helps a lot when a coach is trying to get the team to act like a team. The captains help to liaise messages between the coaches and players and help keep the coach current on what’s going on and what the players would like. The Ottawa Senators had one of the best leaders in the game – a proven captain of 14 years in Daniel Alfredsson. Well, things changed and we had a new, very green captain who had to learn the ropes. This, no doubt, impacted Paul Maclean’s style. I suspect Maclean didn’t trust Jason Spezza enough (if it ever happens now) to let him help.

I’d also like to point out that even if a team is built of almost the same players as the year before, a loss of a couple players (especially the "face of the franchise") and the addition of some new faces can have a big impact on team dynamics. The coach has to now get to know the new players and learn what works best with the players he has. Trades and free agency can also impact players who stayed. For example, Erik Karlsson lost three of his best friends in Alfredsson, Jakob Silfverberg, and Peter Regin. That can influence a player's attitude and in turn, impact the coach.

Altogether, my point here is that a lot of factors contribute to the success or failure of the coach. Oh, and don’t forget that Maclean also takes orders from his general manager (although I think Bryan Murray trusts him for the most part) and the owner, which may or may not impact his coaching and player usage. I’ll leave it at that.

The Players' Teacher

When Bryan Murray was asked in his interview on Tuesday about Maclean, he said "My note to him today was the players liked the old Paul. They liked the guy that sat and talked to them, that treated them in a more easygoing fashion, that taught and not confronted." Maclean himself said that he decided to be more demanding of his players. This could very well be the reason why Maclean had success in his previous two years and seemed to have the players buy in compared to this year.

I like to think of the old Maclean as a teacher – the kind that inspired you to learn and work hard. The kind that you knew believed in you and wanted to see you succeed. Sounds nice (maybe nostalgic for some), doesn’t it? It's possible that the Senators want a democratic, collaborative coach as opposed to an authoritarian (see John Tortorella for details). It appears to me that the Senators want their old teacher back - you know, the lovable fisherman from Antigonish?

A major benefit of having a coach who is "down to earth" is that it helps the younger guys feel more comfortable on the team. The Senators are a young team and many of them are trying to figure out the NHL. Having someone who works with them and brings their confidence up, even if they make a mistake, can do wonders for a young player.

Altogether, Paul Maclean has a lot of reflecting to do in his lengthened summer. I am hopeful, however, that he will figure it out and get back to business. The organization seems to have faith in him too. Maclean is a relatively new coach in the NHL, so no doubt he has room to grow and learn, just like young players.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Silver Seven

You must be a member of Silver Seven to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Silver Seven. You should read them.

Join Silver Seven

You must be a member of Silver Seven to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Silver Seven. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker