Six. That is the number of coaches that have run the Ottawa Senators since Jacques Martin was fired after nine fairly successful seasons. None of the men (besides perhaps Bryan Murray) since him have been good enough for the job, and there comes a point where you have to get it right. This next hiring will define Pierre Dorion's early career as a GM, and failure is not an option in the eyes of the entire Senators fanbase.
Luckily for everyone, there is finally a perfect candidate standing right in front of us: Bruce Boudreau. Every other time the Senators have brought in a new coach, they weren't able to go for the best of the best or did not feel the need to. After 2007, John Paddock seemed like a perfect guy to fill in for Murray as he had already been around the team as an assistant coach for the previous two seasons. An external coach did not seem necessary as the team was perceived to be good enough to be a contender.
Then Craig Hartsburg was a slick pick for coach that had won two gold medals with the Team Canada Juniors and he had some potential. Cory Clouston was an odd choice to replace Hartsburg so early on, but he was hired mid-season in 2008-09, and there weren't as many options late in the season. They could have replaced him in the off-season after 2008-09, but due to his 19-11-4 record down the stretch, Ottawa put some faith in him.
Paul MacLean was then the next coach that many people around the game coveted as the next big thing. He had been with Detroit for five seasons, won a Stanley Cup, and he certainly seemed like the best candidate out there without experience. Hindsight shows that he really was not. Dave Cameron was in a similar situation that Clouston was in, because he was promoted mid-season and Ottawa was unable to look at other candidates at the time. The teams magical run to the playoffs ensured that Cameron would have the job for next season, meaning they effectively had no time to look at any external options for the job.
The point is that through all these coaching changes since 2007, Ottawa hasn't had the chance to, and hasn't needed to look at the best of the best experienced coaches. But now I think it's clear to most people that what this organization needs is an experienced, winning coach, and they have one available. You want someone who can win? Boudreau has the second highest winning percentage amongst NHL coaches with at least 100 games experience. There has never been a coach with this good of a resume on the open market for Ottawa.
Think about the great coaches in the NHL: Joel Quenneville, Mike Babcock, Barry Trotz, Lindy Ruff, Claude Julien, Dan Bylsma, and a few others. Those top 5-10 coaches are rarely ever available, and when they are, they will still be coaching the very next season with a new team. Guys like Boudreau don't come along every year, and it's not often that when the Senators need to find a coach there will be someone who can be such an upgrade to the coaching staff.
This is a once in a decade kind of opportunity for the Senators, and Boudreau needs to be their guy. Someone like Mike Yeo would be a good fit for the team as well, but when you have Boudreau sitting there, you have to take him. I mean, his all-time record of 409-192-80 speaks for itself.
In the eight years he coached from beginning to end, his team has won the division. Did he have good teams in front of him? Of course. But at the same time, he made Anaheim go from a poor possession team that was getting tons of luck, to a team that was a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. His playoff record is 41-40, which is hardly terrible, and I'm not going to call his 1-7 record in game seven's anything but incredibly unlucky:
In his four Game 7 losses with Anaheim, Bruce Boudreau's goalies had a combined .852 save percentage. So yeah, maybe it's not all his fault.— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) April 29, 2016
If all 30 teams fired their coaches tomorrow, Boudreau would be getting calls from every single team, meaning Ottawa is in a very beneficial spot right now. The only other teams that are looking at him are Calgary and Minnesota, although Minnesota still has John Torchetti if they want to remove his interim label. I am sure the Senators think Boudreau is the best man for the job, and that means that it is essentially down to three teams to see where he will go.
Here comes the tricky part, because coaches cost money. If he does cost $5 million or something crazy, then I don't know if he can come to Ottawa. Or if he does, a player like Mike Hoffman might have to be on his way out, which is an extremely depressing scenario. I don't know what to think of Eugene Melnyk's comments right now, because Pierre Dorion seems to think they can get the best coach out there, but Melnyk knows that he isn't going to pay top dollar if there's a bidding war. Or maybe, just maybe, he'll change his mind:
Can only imagine discussion the #Sens are having. Hiring Boudreau would cost big money but it's the ultimate "prove it" moment for Melnyk.— SensChirp (@SensChirp) April 29, 2016
If Boudreau actually does get a salary like Mike Babcock got lost year, then I can't really see him coming to Ottawa. Still though, it'll be interesting to see how much truth there is to the fact that Dorion says they can get the best coach. Perhaps he doesn't ask for a ton of salary or maybe he would rather come to Ottawa compared to Calgary or Minnesota. No matter what though, the Senators should be doing everything they can do to get Boudreau leading the Senators.
If he really does end up costing too much and they have to choose between him and Hoffman, then fine, don't hire him. But this is a golden opportunity, and it could really change things for the Senators. Boudreau is the man for the job, and a guy like him won't be there for the taking all the time. Prepare your wallet, Eugene.