Whoa. Can't say I saw that coming.
After spending the last three weeks reliving the 2011 post season, game by game, goal by goal, I thought I could put it to bed and finally move on. Don't get me wrong, it was fun in covering the experience, but it was now over, or so I thought.
Within a couple of hours after the final piece was posted here at S7S, the news of Kurt Kleinendorst pushed myself back to 2011 once again with the announcement he was returning behind the bench for the Binghamton It was strange to say about the timing, but I guess a little more time to that era won't hurt.
Kleinendorst calls leaving the Sens his biggest professional regret. He reached back out upon hearing Richardson was leaving.— Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) June 8, 2016
Kleinendorst left the organization after the 2011-'12 season on a rather odd note by not accepting a new contract extension, and dodging questions by the media as to why he was leaving with nothing planned in the future as far as any coaching gigs. He said it was personal. However, his diversion tactics felt uncomfortable, as he always was up front with the press.
Then what followed was rumors of some tension between him and the fine folks in Ottawa's front office. Perhaps now with new blood in place, new adventures are the main focus.
Whatever the reasons, I'm glad Kurt's back as he signed a new two-year contract. He brings experience, is beloved in the community, and knows the City and it's surroundings very well. He's not a college coach or someone from the Juniors with limitations that new Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion was pursuing. (I don't know how that would have went over with the fan-base in Bingo, but happy we didn't have to go down that road to find out.)
Instead, we can concentrate on what's ahead for someone that has a proven track record at the AHL level.
After the 2011 playoffs, that team was blown up with the exodus of players. Some left for other organizations, while others graduated to Ottawa. Regardless, the 2011-'12 season was painful to watch in a patched up line-up, as the club ended in last place with a league worst 29-40-5-2 record. There wasn't much Kleinendorst could do, as the turnover was massive with the loss of many key players like Andre Benoit, Derek Smith, Cody Bass, Ryan Keller, Ryan Potulny, Bobby Butler, Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Zack Smith and Barry Brust.
In enters Coach KK 2.0, as he's motivated to build a team to his liking with his connections that presumably he'll use to help Binghamton return to the playoffs. But there's work to be done with limited prospects down the pipeline. With his reputation as a player's coach though, this might bode well for the Sens if they want two important pieces to the puzzle back in veteran's Jason Akeson and Phil Varone. Otherwise, any other coach with little experience in the AHL, I would say the odds greatly diminish.
The carryovers from last season that are signed; Zack Stortini, Ryan Rupert, Nick Paul, Ben Harpur, Vincent Dunn and the two goaltenders in Matt O'Connor and Chris Driedger. Tom Pyatt was recently signed and should join Binghamton.
Players they need to re-sign over the summer besides Akeson and Casey Bailey, Max McCormick, Kyle Flanagan for starters, and maybe David Dziurzynski returns as one of Kleinendorst's favorites. Not sure how it pans out for Matt Frattin. Ryan Dzingel and Matt Puempel are RFA's and hopefully they will return.?
Defensemen Guillaume Lepine, Chris Carlisle and RFA Fredrik Claesson should be brought back. Cody Donaghey, Andreas Englund, Macoy Erkamps and Francis Perron are all eligible for Binghamton next season.
"We're really happy that Kurt is the choice and we're excited to reunite Kurt and Steve (Stirling) in Binghamton." - #BSens GM Randy Lee— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) June 8, 2016
Kleinendorst will retain Steve Stirling as the assistant coach reuniting the two from the 2011 Cup run.
This is a solid move on both fronts within the organization. Very pleased to see the return of a coach that knows how to win, and at the same time be humbled in his return. It'll be interesting moving forward on how his relationship with Dorion and Randy Lee exists coming up, with the off season signings on the horizon.