Ottawa Senators: Why Travis Green is likely to clean house with assistant coaches

New Ottawa Senators head coach Travis Green is likely to bring in a completely new coaching staff. Here's why a wholesale change is likely coming over the next few weeks.
St Louis Blues v New Jersey Devils
St Louis Blues v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

On May 7th 2024, the Ottawa Senators opted to hire Travis Green as the 15th head coach in franchise history. Now that fans have had some time to digest this hire, let's talk about why the Sens' new bench boss must clean house, including letting an Ottawa hockey legend go.

The Ottawa Senators need a new Associate Coach.

Current associate coach Jack Capuano was in charge of the penalty kill as well as the defense. Under his tutelage, the team's penalty kill was absolutely atrocious, ranking as the fourth worst penalty kill throughout the entire NHL last season at 75.10%. In the 2022-23 season, the penalty kill ranked 14th with an 80.07% efficiency. In 2021-22, the Sens had a 80.32% on the PK, which was good for 13th overall in the NHL.

Based on the numbers, one can argue that except for last year, Capuano has done an acceptable job on the PK. But when it comes to 5 on 5 defense, it's a different story.

The Senators are known for having a horrible structure in their own end, and this has been an issue for a number of years. While Capuano might not be the only one to blame for this, he definitely deserves a good chunk of the blame. Suffice it to say, based on the numbers I do not think Green is bringing Jack Capuano back next season.

The Ottawa Senators must also part with Bob Jones and Ben Sexton.

Assistants Ben Jones and Ben Sexton are in the same boat as Capuano and must not return to Ottawa's bench for 2024-25.

Sexton was promoted from the AHL to the NHL at the be the Senators' "eye in the sky" but found a role behind the bench after D.J. Smith and Davis Payne were let go. Being a former player who wore letters in a few organizations, Sexton is a clear leader. At 32, he also has a long career ahead of him in coaching. He was tasked with helping Capuano with defense and the PK, but the results were just not there.

At this point it's just best if the Sens clean house and start from scratch in terms of coaching. Personally, I would prefer it that Sexton to remains with the organization in his original box role, but I doubt it's in the cards for Green.

Ottawa must also let Bob Jones go. Jones's role was more that of a player motivator than an on-the-bench coach. He was hired by Smith as a right hand man to communicate with players, strategize, and oversee the complete product. However, it is likely Green brings on a principal coaching advisor that his familiar with.

Jones's situation is a bit tricky because of his health. He has been fighting ALS courageously for quite some time but states that he has zero intentions of quitting coaching. Its possible that the Senators could retain Jones in another role out of good will, but as fans know, the NHL is often a cutthroat business.

Its likely time for a new goalie coach, too.

Up next on the Ottawa Senators chopping block is goalie coach, Justin Peters. Peters was a longtime AHL goaltender who spent most of his professional ice hockey career in the Carolina Hurricanes organization.

Peters predominantly served as the AHL-Charlotte starting goaltender and third string option for the Canes club for many years. When his playing career came to a close, he was hired as goaltending coach in AHL-Belleville. The Senators promoted Peters to the big club when after opting to move on from Zac Bierk.

Goalie production continues to plague Ottawa, which is why I project Green will move on from Peters. This will be tough for me if and when it happens because I'm a big Justin Peters fan. I think he's done a good job helping develop our numerous goaltending prospects, all of whom will benefit from goalie coach continuity. Goaltending is one of the weirdest positions in pro sports and not easy to coach. Thus, I support Peters remaining on Ottawa's staff and finishing the job he started.

Still, it feels like Green has every intention to bring in his guys as the team seeks a new direction in roster construction and strategy while in the early stages of new team ownership.

The Ottawa Senators shouldn't retain the GOAT on Green's staff.

Finally, on the current coaching staff, Daniel Alfredsson remains up for debate. Alfredsson is widely regarded as the greatest player in organization history, but he doesn't belong on Ottawa's coaching staff any longer.

I share my feelings about where I think Alfredsson belongs in the organization later. For now, I think its best that Green doesn't retain the Senators all-time leader in points on the bench.

A common trend in the NHL is that coaches are hired to be fired down the road. Thus, adding a franchise legend like "Alfie" is difficult because I fear that an inevitable firing will tarnish his reputation in Ottawa. Few know the game of hockey better than Alfredsson, but not even Wayne Gretzky was immune to the coaching carousel when his team underperformed. Yes, "The Great One" technically resigned as Coyotes' bench boss, but his share of team ownership provided the opportunity to save face.

The Senators will inevitably let Alfredsson go, again. It will be painful. After living through two instances of Alfie departing Ottawa, I don't think I can handle a third. I would much prefer Alfredsson is "elevated" to a role where he could remain as long as he desires. I'm thinking a senior advisory or player development role makes the most sense.

Next. Story Link. Why Ottawa claims 11 Stanley Cups, but the Senators don't. dark

Either way, buckle up Sens fans, this offseason is just getting started and we're going to see a lot of changes in Ottawa.