Perhaps nobody has been as frustrated as I have been with the way the coaching staff has handled the team this season, pretty much since Game 2. I have second-guessed the decisions of head coach Paul MacLean numerous times and have even accused him of buying into his own press as a reason for the Senators’ lack of success.
That being said, I am not sure that MacLean should lose his job based on this season alone. He does have to shoulder a lot of the responsibility but perhaps not all. A shuffling of the staff might be in order, and I firmly believe that it is time to bring Binghamton coach Luke Richardson behind the NHL bench next season, perhaps in a sort of “Associate Coach” role.
I know it might be tough for MacLean to stomach bringing the heir apparent to his job on board, but Richardson’s track record in a short time speaks for itself. If MacLean has a problem with that, with bringing someone in who could help the team succeed especially in its own end, then maybe he isn’t right for the job long-term after all.
Richardson doesn’t need to take over completely to make an impact, but something needs to be done. After a 3 year stint as an assistant in Ottawa, Richardson has worked wonders with young defensemen, getting them ready for the NHL. Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch and Cody Ceci, not to mention Eric Gryba and potentially Mark Borowiecki, will all be expected to improve next season while shouldering NHL minutes. Richardson has been there, done that and has shown the ability to impart the knowledge to the players in an effective way. He has learned a lot in his 2 seasons as a head coach, which he can bring to the table for a second stint in Ottawa.
There is room behind the NHL bench in Ottawa for both MacLean and Richardson, and if the best scenario means MacLean has to swallow a bit of pride to accept help, so be it. It might mean moving either Dave Cameron or Mark Reeds to Binghamton to assume the head coaching job in the AHL, but it could be a necessary move for the betterment of the team.
Richardson is a future head coach in the NHL, and it might come sooner rather than later. If he would be comfortable accepting the role of something like “Associate Coach” it would be a benefit to the organization and its future.