Paddock in lockstep with Sens

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

It's not as rare as a solar eclipse or Anton Volchenkov goal, but it's not exactly an everyday sighting, either.

Documented accounts have it happening 48 times during the 2006-07 NHL season, and another 13 times in the playoffs. Not bad, but there's certainly room for improvement.

"After every win," Jason Spezza said when asked how many times he has seen coach John Paddock smile. "That's about the only time. He likes to win hockey games."

And the more, the merrier.

Spezza and a select group of teammates had a say in the hiring of Bryan Murray's successor over the summer. When John Muckler was turfed and Murray promoted, the latter sought input from the troops before naming a new coach.

"We feel we have a good team here," said Spezza. "We feel like we're all on the same page, we feel like we play a good system. One of the things the guys expressed, after (Muckler) was gone, is that we didn't want too big of a change.

"Bryan talked to a whole bunch of us when they were hiring coaches ... I think everybody felt the same way, that we didn't want to be changing our system or philosophy too much because we felt we were going in the right direction."

Paddock's career has gone circular. He is back doing what he began in 1981-82 with Maine of the American Hockey League. He had been a head coach for 18 seasons since, mostly in the AHL -- where he is the only coach to lead three teams to championships -- and on either sides of terms as GM, assistant GM and assistant coach.

Paddock's only other stint as an NHL head coach was 1991-95 with the Winnipeg Jets, where he compiled a 106-138-37 mark. He should be closing in on a .500 record by the end of this season.

"I would say it was definitely an objective to be a head coach again," Paddock said. "You want to be at the highest level. There's only 30 of these jobs in the world, and it's a privilege to be at that level. To be an assistant coach for say the next 10 years, I don't know that I would have wanted that. Maybe I would have gone back to the American League ... I'm not sure."

Paddock never stopped thinking like a head coach. Each day, he watched how Murray worked and decided if he would do things the same way. Most times, the answer was yes, which is another reason Paddock is Ottawa's new bench boss.

"I think it's just overall experience," Paddock said of why he's better equipped to be a head coach now. "I don't think there's any replacement for experiencing in dealing with certain situations. Being with Bryan and the way he handled some things ... I think he showed one of his strongest suits, tremendous patience, at all times as a coach ... He showed a lot of patience, and that's one thing I definitely want to take from him."

Taking over from the only coach to guide the Senators to a final comes with pressure.

"I certainly know there's pressure and expectations to do well, but really, that's the way we want it," Paddock said.

"Players who are worth their grain of salt want to be here and with that pressure, and it's the same with a coach.

'RATHER BE HERE'

"I'd far rather be here with that expectation and see how it plays out the next three or four years than I would be somewhere else, where they say if we do this right, and we get this player and these players develop and this happens, well in four or five years we'll be a pretty good team and really do something.

"Well, four or five years is an eternity for a hockey coach. So I'm more than happy to take this opportunity with a real good team and see what happens."


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