As the Senators embark on their search for a fourth head coach in four years, there is one candidate that stands out in my mind above all others. Despite all the speculation since Cory Clouston‘s release, I haven’t heard his name among the field of candidates mentioned so far. In fact, this man has been right under Bryan Murray’s nose the entire time. Before revealing his name, lets first look at the qualities the Senators’ new coach should possess.
- Teaching ability – the 2011-12 version of the Senators will be young and inexperienced. They will need someone who has a track record of being an instructor first, as there will be many mistakes that need to be corrected as the season goes along. Players will need to learn from their mistakes and the coach must have the ability to vocalize in the proper manner what he wants from them.
- Experience – Past NHL head coaching experience is a must, as this team has shown that it doesn’t respond well to inexperienced coaches. Even coaches with limited head coaching experience (Paddock, Hartsburg) have not fared well behind the Ottawa bench.
- Respect – The new Ottawa coach must have the respect of the players, the officials and the fans of the city. The leash will be short and the coach will not have time to develop the respect, he has to come in with some pre-earned.
- Ability to relate to players – The candidate must be able to relate to the players. The “taskmaster” approach hasn’t worked. He must be able to be demanding and get what he wants out of the players and let them know where they stand, all without being a complete a-hole to them.
- Playoff Experience – Getting to the playoffs might be enough next year, but in the short term the new coach will have the expectation from Eugene Melnyk and Bryan Murray to take them deep in the post-season within the next two or three years.
- Personality (& media savvy) – Since Murray left the bench to go to the GM box, the succession of coaches have been bland, robotic individuals who have the personality of a rice cake. This has translated through the media and gave an awful impression to the fans.
This is a long list of qualities that the new coach should possess. Who is this “Superman” of coaches that I profess can fulfill most if not all of them?
My ideal candidate for the job has coached 1,239 NHL games, with 620 wins. He has made the playoffs 12 times in the 17 seasons that he coached. He only finished the season 3 times by watching the playoffs from the outside. He is well known for his teaching ability and has experience in developing young talent. He is always known to be gregarious with the media and actually has a sense of humor. He knows when the situation calls for seriousness, and also when to let up and have some fun. The kicker is that he knows the players in the Ottawa franchise, and how to relate to them, probably better than anyone on the planet.
You may have guessed by that description, that the best candidate for the coach of the Ottawa Senators is:
Now I know what many of you are thinking, and I know that there are a number of problems with this idea:
- he already has a job.
- there is not one person in the NHL who us currently holding down both GM and Head Coach posts.
- He is not a spring chicken at 68 years of age.
- Human cloning has not yet been perfected.
Objecitons aside, if he were not the GM, I think he would be the perfect choice for Head Coach. Could it work? Absolutely. Picture a scenario where Bryan is the GM and Head Coach. He could focus on GM duties during the off-season, and during the season, assistant GM Tim Murray could do a bulk of the GM work while Bryan focused on coaching. Tim has been being groomed for the position for a number of years, and it is time to see if he is ready for increased authority, while still under the watchful eye of Uncle Bryan. The trade deadline period would be very demanding on Bryan’s time, but having an experienced assistant coach, who can take over practices for a few days would relieve some of that pressure.
After all, Murray left the bench in the summer of 2007, not of his own accord, but because Melnyk needed a GM. Since that time, the club hasn’t found a coach to their liking, maybe because the right one was there all along, just not in the right role. And since Melnyk and Murray have exceedingly high (some would say rose-colored glasses) expectations of the talent on the roster, the coach has always been the fall guy (rightly or wrongly) for not living up to them. Who better to lead the team than the architect himself? Murray has taken this club farther than anyone else in team history as a coach, and I think he has unfinished business. Maybe, just maybe, he hasn’t been able to find the right guy because HE IS the right guy.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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