After two polar-opposite seasons (at least in terms of results) for the Ottawa Senators, most fans weren’t sure what to expect when it came to coaches for next season. We finally have an answer, with Pierre Dorion revealing his plans on TSN 1200:
Pierre Dorion tells @TSN1200 that Guy Boucher and his staff will return in 2018-19 season.— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) May 1, 2018
Dorion says Guy Boucher will run the power play next season. Rob Cookson will go behind the bench as an assistant coach, while Martin Raymond becomes the "eye in the sky". Marc Crawford will remain behind the bench as an assistant.— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) May 1, 2018
Guy Boucher and Pierre Dorion had a meeting last week, and it looks like Boucher’s convinced Dorion to give him another go. There could be a number of factors at play here: injuries, Boucher offering to go with a different philosophy, Dorion making it clear that he will no longer hire Boucher’s guys anymore. Money was likely a big factor too, with Boucher entering the final year of his contract. If he’d been fired, the Sens would’ve still had to pay him AND hire somebody else. Considering that just two season ago, the Sens were paying Paul MacLean, Dave Cameron, and Guy Boucher as coaches, Eugene Melnyk likely didn’t want to go down this route again. My theory was that the Sens were waiting to see about firings, but this decision seems too early for that to have been the team’s choice. Likely a combination of having trust in Boucher and not wanting to waste money, especially in a projected “rebuilding” season, led to his retention.
It’ll be interesting to see if Boucher can fix this team’s powerplay. On paper, a powerplay with Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, and Mike Hoffman should be able to make some noise, but the Sens have been awful on this front for years. Boucher came in preaching to fix it, and all of his assistants have failed at this. I’m curious if he himself will be able to do anything.
As for the Belleville Sens, they’ll be getting a new coach:
Pierre Dorion tells us that Kurt Kleinendorst will not return as head coach of the Belleville Senators— TSN 1200 (@TSN1200) May 1, 2018
This is good news, at least in Spencer’s opinion, since Coach K had developed a reputation for playing veterans at the expense of prospect development. The B-Sens had a steady stream of AHL lifer signings this year, and he seemed to prefer playing them, to the tune of Belleville’s lead scorer having 32 points (Ville Pokka had 33, but most of them came before joining Belleville). He also inexplicably kept starting Andrew Hammond after he’d left the Sens organization, leading to Marcus Hogberg playing a lot in the ECHL. We’ll see if a better development coach comes along now.
It’s still interesting to me that nobody was fired from the Sens’ staff. It seemed that after a second-worst-in-the-league showing, at least one assistant would be the sacrificial lamb for the fans. Instead, Dorion’s committing to the process, giving everyone one more year to show what they can do. What will be interesting to see is what happens if this team stumbles out of the gate. It’s possible that Dorion has given Boucher 20 games or so to prove himself, after which Dorion may be looking for his next coach.