Senators step up search

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

The Senators' search for a coach is heating up.

League sources told Sun Media yesterday Senators GM Bryan Murray has already held face-to face interviews with Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds coach Craig Hartsburg and former Atlanta coach Bob Hartley, with more meetings planned in the next 10 days.

It's believed the Senators also plan to speak with former Colorado coach Joel Quenneville, Portland coach Kevin Dineen, Kitchener's Peter DeBoer and former New Jersey coach Pat Burns.

Sources say Murray has been doing his homework on Hartsburg and Hartley, a Hawkesbury native. Hartley is an attractive option because he's from the area and won a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001. He was fired six games into last season when the Thrashers started 0-6.

Hartsburg and Hartley both share similar attributes: They're tough, but they're fair.

A former coach of the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, Hartsburg, 48, has spent the past three seasons behind the Greyhounds bench and played a role in leading Team Canada to back-to-back gold medals at the world juniors.

"He's a very good coach. He's a hard-ass. He's everything they need," said a league executive yesterday.

"He's a hard, hard guy. He's no-nonsense. There'll be no Ray Emery coming in late. The first time he might get away with it, the second time he won't be allowed in the rink ever again.

'LOT OF TALENT'

"Look, Hartsburg had a failed experience in Chicago and a failed experiment in Anaheim. He didn't have any talent in Chicago and he certainly didn't have any talent in Anaheim when Pierre Gauthier was the GM. It would be a different situation because there's a lot of talent on Ottawa."

The landscape could change. The NHL coaching market is active these days. Reports on the weekend indicated Quenneville was spotted in San Jose last week and has held informal discussions with the Sharks about their vacant post.

The Senators are going to keep an eye on what happens in Tampa Bay with John Tortorella. Talk won't go away that former Kings coach Barry Melrose is going to sign a three-year, $6-million contract with the Bolts once Hollywood producer Oren Koules officially takes ownership. If he gets dumped, Tortorella would be a good fit here if the Senators can find an assistant who is able to play the role of good cop. Dineen or ex-Senators captain Randy Cunneyworth could get consideration for that kind of role.

Former San Jose coach Ron Wilson is now being listed as a frontrunner for the vacant post with the Thrashers and his name has also been linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs.


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