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!
Dave Cameron had been an assistant coach with Ottawa for a number of years before he was brought in to Coach this team. In all honesty, I was upset when he was picked for the job despite knowing basically nothing about the man. I had the sense that Murray’s arm was being twisted by Melnyk and I wouldn’t say I have the greatest faith in the idea of Melnyk making unilateral hockey management decisions.
I was pleasantly surprised by Cameron. It would be hard to argue that things weren’t better for the Senators after Cameron took over. Ross summed it up perfectly in his weekly question post on May 2nd
"He ended up coaching the Sens to the greatest comeback to make the playoffs in NHL history. He made interesting decisions such as scratching veterans Chris Phillips, David Legwand, and even Chris Neil in the playoffs. Some point out that a lot of his decisions were lucky - injuries not allowing him to play Neil or Zack Smith, a suspension forcing Jared Cowen out of the lineup. Still, he was willing to play the young guys in prominent roles, and the results speak for themselves. Ottawa's improvement both in record and in possession was astounding. Erik Karlsson is a Norris candidate. Mark Stone is a Calder candidate. Mike Hoffman led rookies in goals (despite a confusing late-season demotion to the fourth line)."
There are a number of factors that make it difficult to compare Cameron’s year to Maclean’s, even though it was the same season and basically the same roster.
It seems like almost every positive comes with some sort of caveat.
The team’s improvement under Cameron coincides with a number of key injuries and the return of Marc Methot. While Methot can’t be given sole credit for turning this team around, removing Phillips from Karlsson and the line-up itself was a big deal. If Karlsson is ice-cream, Phillips is a pair of chopsticks to Methot’s spoon. Solidifying the top pairing allowed Cameron to give cushier deployment to the other defensemen.
Basically, it’s not Maclean’s fault that Methot was out of the line-up and his return was likely a considerable factor in the team’s turnaround.
Cameron has to get some credit for putting together some outstanding lines. If we can find a way to keep the top three lines from the end of the season in tact (with Hoffman in the top 6), I’ll be a very happy fan. He brought Wiercioch back into the lineup and even Legwand and Chiasson started putting up really nice possession numbers under Cameron.
I still don’t understand or like that Hoffman spent time on the fourth line. I’m also uneasy about Cameron not getting the most out of Bobby Ryan if he isn’t injured. Cameron also benefitted from other-worldly play from Andrew Hammond. He also seemed to put a system in place which allowed us to move from 8th worst in scoring chance% on December 8th to 7th best for the rest of the season.
Nice work Dave, and congratulations on winning a majority Parliament.
Highest grade: A
Lowest grade: B+
Average grade: A-