He might not win the Jack Adams award as coach of the year, although he is the favorite in my books. And although they would never say so publicly, the 29 other coaches in the NHL must secretly hate Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean and what he is doing with his team right now.
Its not because of his personality, or for anything in particular that he has said or done.
You see, he has taken away one of the easiest (and in a lot of cases built-in) excuses many coaches have had in the past for poor play. Injuries have often given coaches a pass, as it is often the easiest explanation given for many slips in performance.
MacLean has taken a team that has suffered an unprecedented slew of injuries to top players, has kept the team afloat, and actually occupying the same spot as they were before many of the injuries happened. They were tied for 5th the day after Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek went down, and they are still 5th now, some 13 games later.
We all know how difficult it has been, with Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Jared Cowen, Karlsson, Craig Anderson, and even Mike Lundin and Guillaume Latendresse all out significant time with injuries. It hasn’t been pretty by any stretch of the imagination but somehow MacLean has kept the ship headed in the right direction.
Next time a coach uses injuries as an excuse/explanation for a substandard game or stretch of games to the media or to his General Manager, don’t expect the same response that he would have gotten two months ago. All they would get right now is a roll of the eyes, and they all have Paul MacLean to thank (or rather curse) for that.
And there are probably 29 other GM’s who feel the same way about Bryan Murray at the moment as well, for his ability to have built an organization that has been able to withstand the rash of injuries while still being competitive at both the NHL and AHL levels.