***NOTE: This post was being prepared for publishing when the news of the Mike Fisher trade hit. The move initiated the rebuild on the ice, but the facts of this post remain the same***
With the Ottawa Senators mired in their worst season since the expansion era, there are more factors at play than just the results on the ice. Which is why I am confused today as to why both Bryan Murray and Corey Clouston are still in their respective positions.
A majority of the fans in the City of Ottawa are fairweather at best. A losing streak as long as this is going to impact Eugene Melnyk‘s bottom line, for this season and next, minimum. Season ticket renewals for next year will be sent out soon, if they haven’t been already. The same people who jumped on the bandwagon a couple of years ago when Senatorland was all sunshine and gumdrops, are going to leap off in droves after this debacle of a season.
That is, unless Melnyk gives them a reason to stay on board. The easiest way send a message that he is serious about turning things around is to make a change at the top. Two and a half weeks ago, Melnyk stated that the GM and Coach will finish the season in their positions. However, sometimes plans change and it is time now to make a change. I don’t think at the time he said it that he could have foreseen losing 11 in a row and having 1 win in a month and a half.
Changing the GM at this jucture would be counterproductive, as the incoming GM would not have enough time to assess the state of the team before the trade deadline. So for better or for worse, Bryan Murray is in charge until at least March 1.
Activity between now & the trade deadline will not be enough to stem the tide of exodus for those borderline fairweather fans. This is espcially true since most of the player movement will be out of town , and some players leaving may be fan favorites (see: Mike Fisher trade). With prospects and picks coming back, the benefits of most of the moves they make will not be seen this season, or even next.
So that leaves Corey Clouston. I think it is unfortunate, because he has done a lot of good things in his tenure, but the players seem to have stopped playing for him, and he has to be the fall guy. If Melnyk, as speculated, wants to bring in St. Michael’s Majors’ coach Dave Cameron next season, that is fine, but there has to be someone that can come in for the interim and run the team until the end of the season. However, if Melnyk does want Cameron to be the Senators coach, it is going to seriously limit his choices for General Manager candidates, because any GM worth his salt is going to want to have a say in hiring the coach, not to be told who his coach is going to be.
So Melnyk has some decisions to make over the next few days. Those decisions will greatly impact the direction of the team on the ice, and maybe more importantly for him, off the ice and on the balance sheet.