Sheriff lays down law

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

In his first act as coach of the Senators, Bryan Murray cracked the whip.

Only minutes into yesterday's first on-ice session, the club's new bench boss made his presence known by stopping drills five or six times because of sloppy performances.

Then, during his first media availability, Murray described the results of the fitness testing as being "okay" and chastised "a couple" of veteran players for not scoring well Monday and "being behind some rookies."

As for yesterday's practice?

"It looked like the first day," said Murray, the Shawville native who hasn't coached since a 2-1 loss to Los Angeles on April 14, 2001 while behind the Anaheim bench. "I have been told and I have read that this is a talented team that has a lot of good skills.

NEW ATTITUDE

"Well, if you've got good skills then you've got to be able to use them in practice and you've got to do things right. We should be able to pass the puck and hit each other with the passes if we're a skilled team.

"That didn't happen an awful lot. You expect the guys with good skills to be able to do these drills really well. I want things done right."

Yes, everybody noticed the difference in attitude from the guy that is going to stand behind the bench this season. Gone is the stoic Jacques Martin, who preferred not to publicly criticize his players.

Even from his perch in the Corel Centre seats, GM John Muckler noticed the difference in the way the on-ice workout was run and the jump in the players' step. It was the first practice without Martin as the coach of the Senators since he was hired by former GM Pierre Gauthier on Jan. 24, 1996.

"Sometimes you just need a change," said Muckler, who hired Murray to replace Martin in May, 2004. "This had nothing to do with Jacques Martin being a bad coach. In fact, it was made because we just needed to have somebody different behind the bench.

"We want to get it done here and we didn't get it done. I'm sure (Martin) is going to go (to Florida) and have success. Sometimes, that's the way coaching works.

"I thought we had a great first day with Bryan Murray. I was an offensive coach and he's an offensive coach who also believes you have to play well defensively. We did a lot of offensive drills. That's what I want to see."

'FRESH START'

The players noticed the change, too, and they are looking forward to a fresh start.

"It was different. There's no question about it," said captain Daniel Alfredsson. "It's going to take some time to get used to the difference (in philosophy), but I think the change was good and we're excited to get going.

"(Murray) brings a fresh start and we have to forget all the luggage we have with us.

"I feel like we've got a good team here and I know it's going to be tough, but with the talent we've got here, we're going to have a team that can challenge for the Stanley Cup."


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