Senators turn to D-men

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Next up, Peter DeBoer and Kevin Dineen.

The Senators' search for a new coach is being ramped up with the entry draft less than less three weeks away. The plan is to have a bench boss in place before Ottawa hosts the draft at Scotiabank Place June 20-21.

League sources say GM Bryan Murray -- who has already talked with former Atlanta coach Bob Hartley and Sault Ste. Marie boss Craig Hartsburg -- is planning to meet with DeBoer, coach of the OHL champion Kitchener Rangers, this week. Murray may also speak with Dineen, coach of the AHL's Portland Pirates.

Lightning coach John Tortorella, who's expected to be fired and replaced by ESPN analyst Barry Melrose, is also on the Senators' radar.

However, there are concerns Tortorella's abrasive personality might be difficult for the Senators to handle.

SNIFFING AROUND

Tortorella is an attractive candidate because he coached the Bolts to a Stanley Cup in 2004, but there's a belief if the Senators took him on, they'd also need someone on staff to offset his character.

Murray is in Motown today for GM meetings at the Stanley Cup final. It's believed he'll also be sniffing around to see if Tortorella will, in fact, be fired when the new ownership group takes over in Tampa later this month.

Although many have been quick to dismiss DeBoer and Dineen because they don't have NHL coaching experience, neither should be ruled out.

As the Sun reported last week, Hartsburg and Hartley are the frontrunners and have been invited for second interviews, but DeBoer and Dineen also have strong resumes.

DeBoer, 39, has coached 13 seasons in the OHL with stops in Detroit, Plymouth and Kitchener. In seven years behind the Rangers bench, he has been to the playoffs every year, won the Memorial Cup once and lost in the final to Spokane this year.

Getting DeBoer out of Kitchener won't be easy. It's believed he's the highest-paid coach in junior hockey and sources say he has turned down offers to go to the AHL because he wasn't willing to take a massive pay cut.

"He's an excellent coach," an NHL executive said. "He's the best coach outside the NHL. He just wins. He runs a good organization. He's very successful. He gets results out of players and he's not afraid to make demands. He deserves a chance in the NHL."

FORMER SENATOR

As for the 45-year-old Dineen, he played 67 games for the Senators in 1999-2000 before he was picked up by the Blue Jackets in the expansion draft. A strong leader as a player, Dineen has spent three seasons behind the bench in Portland, the AHL affiliate of the Ducks.

The Senators might not be Dineen's only NHL option. Talk is the Sharks have asked Anaheim GM Brian Burke for permission to speak with Dineen. He might be brought in as an assistant to potential Sharks coach Joel Quenne-ville because they have a close professional relationship.


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