|John Paddock will be introduced as the Senators' new coach at a press conference today at Scotiabank Place. (Sun File/John Woods)
With all the shock of a drop of water being spilled on the floor, the Senators named John Paddock as their coach on Friday, making him the sixth person to hold the position in the team's modern history.
Nearly three weeks had passed since general manager John Muckler was shown the door, and then-coach Bryan Murray was vaulted into the GM's seat.
From the get-go, many assumed Paddock would take the reins within a nanosecond. Ottawa fans waited and waited ... nothing came.
Yet to hear Murray speak on Friday, you would be hard-pressed to think there were any other candidates who resided in the same stratosphere as Ottawa's newest coach.
If that was the case, why did it take almost three weeks to announce a decision that was seemingly made some time ago?
Murray and Paddock appear to share the same mentalities and philosophies that allowed them to function effectively as part of the Senators' coaching staff.
The origins of their similar thinking might be traced back to their respective stints with the Hershey Bears (Murray in 1980-81, and Paddock through the mid-1980s until 1990) where both served under AHL legend -- and Hockey Hall of Fame inductee -- Frank Mathers.
While Murray admitted during Friday's news conference that he had "talked to a number of people," including candidates with previous NHL head coaching experience and "guys who are hoping to get to the (NHL) sometime in their career," there was only one other contender mentioned in the past few weeks with any semblance of seriousness. It was Randy Cunneyworth, coach of the Rochester Americans.
It all seems rather odd, especially considering the spot left vacant by Murray had to be one of the hottest positions available in the league. Who wouldn't want the chance to pilot a ready-made team, fresh from a visit to the Stanley Cup final? Regardless of whether they were solicited, you'd think more names would emerge, simply to make their interest known.
Paddock's name began and ended this search, and surely it must have been excruciating for him. Envision a bride-to-be -- the ring was there, the date likely set, but the groom wanted to have a final look around at any other candidates before he committed completely.
Those involved will refer to this as typical procedure, but tell that to the person awaiting a verdict. It hardly placates.
Reviews on the Paddock promotion have been mixed -- obviously one can refer to the choice as a safe one, given his history in the Ottawa system and coaching relationship with players such as Jason Spezza, Ray Emery and Christoph Schubert among others. Paddock's rapport with Spezza in particular was regularly referenced during the past three weeks as a selling point
But does No. 19 need a friendly shoulder to lean on behind the bench or someone to light a fire beneath him, forcing the young star to toughen up and round out his game?
From a general standpoint, fans appear sketchy about the idea of an in-system assistant coach slipping into the head coaching position.
The move screams "interim", regardless of intended permanency.
Murray may have perceived Paddock as a partner during their coaching tenure together -- an easy relationship to achieve when someone else is doing the hiring and firing.
There's no similar balance to be had in the current situation Not when one man can pink slip the other.
It's impossible to overly criticize Murray for taking some time to decide whether Paddock was truly the right person for the position -- you don't want to be making a snap judgment for such an important decision.
That being said, when it seems blatantly obvious the job was intended for Paddock all along, fans are left to ponder the true intensity of the Senators' quest for a coach.
After all, it should never take three weeks to search a backyard.