We've finished our player and management grades for the 2014-15 season, but that was just 9 people talking about what they think--and it was a lot of information to talk about. Now it's time for our readers to cast their votes. And with that in mind, we present our Your Say series!
Paul Maclean had a tumultuous tenure in Ottawa. In the summer of 2011 he was named as Cory Clouston's replacement and became the 9th head coach in Ottawa’s history. He was nominated for the Jack Adams in 2012 and won the award the following season earning him a three year extension.
In the press conference that followed Maclean’s firing, Bryan Murray cited two main issues which led to Maclean being let go. The first was the team’s play in our own end. Murray stated "We continue to be a big turnover team in our zone…The chances against our team are, some nights, atrocious."
Murray would go on to imply that defensive positioning was a major problem for this team and that there had been "no changes" or improvements in that area despite numerous conversations about the need for that issue to be addressed.
The second issue was Paul Maclean’s relationship with the players and his impact on the dressing room. Murray spoke about an uneasiness in the dressing room that had developed recently and explained that a number of players felt that they were being singled out too often. It has also been suggested that Maclean may have had a hard time relating to and getting the most out of the the team’s younger players. This was something management was lauding Dave Cameron’s ability to do well in contrast.
Something that wasn’t addressed by Murray in the press conference but was a major source of ire and disillusion among members and staff on this site, was Maclean’s usage of players. Personally, I lost a small piece of my innocence every time Chris Neil jumped over the boards as the team’s extra skater. As many coaches in this league do, Maclean seemed to rely very heavily on grittier veteran players. In many cases Maclean seemed to do this in the face of poor results time and time again.
Mark Stone who had been playing well (though not as well as he did under Cameron) had the lowest even strength ice time per game of any Senator before Dec 8th. Zibanejad had less 5v5 TOI per game than Michalek and barely more than Zack Smith.
Chris Phillips trailed only Erik Karlsson in even strength TOI per game. Phillips’ average put him higher than players like Giordano, Letang, and Ekman-Larsson to name just a few.
All of these factors culminated in an 11-11-5 start, which after an underwhelming 2013-2014 season, was enough for Maclean to be cut loose just 18 months after winning coach of the year on his second nomination.
Paul Maclean had one of the biggest voting gaps through this whole project and it makes sense that the staff were split on his performance. He was dealing with a tough situation. He wasn’t responsible for putting this team together. He didn’t extend players like Phillips, Neil and Smith. He also didn’t have a lot of options in terms of who to pair with Karlsson with Methot out (though Karlsson’s 36% GF and 46% CF with Phillips contrasted against his 56% GF and 59% CF with Wiercioch under Maclean last year suggests that there may have been a shockingly obvious better option to fill Methot’s shoes) and he was dealing with the league’s lowest payroll at the time. All of that needs to be taken into account as well.
Highest grade: C
Lowest grade: F
Average grade: D