Hartsburg hired by Sens

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:43 PM ET

The Senators have opted for experience behind their bench next season.

The Senators announced today that Craig Hartsburg, 48, is taking the reins after the team decided to take a pass on Kitchener Rangers coach Peter DeBoer. He had been the frontrunner the past few days, but the Senators did an abrupt U-turn on Thursday.

Hartsburg was offered the position late Thursday after Senators owner Eugene Melnyk flew to Sault Ste. Marie to meet with former Greyhounds coach. Ottawa GM Bryan Murray then made the final decision.

Though the Senators were impressed with DeBoer, who turns 40 today, sources say there were several "questions" raised when he went through the interview process and there was also concern he might play an Ottawa offer against the Los Angeles Kings.

"We really needed someone to handle the scrutiny, had high expectations and handle the pressure," said Murray. "We've chosen the right guy for the job."

Melnyk said he is impressed with Hartsburg.

"He has the passion and the motivation. He has that winning attitude," said Melnyk.

Hartsburg said he is looking forward to the challenge.

"I'm really excited about the responsibility. I can't wait to get started," said Hartsburg. "I will push and challenge our players to be their best.

"I love challenges."

Big things were expected from the Senators last season after they made it to the Stanley Cup final last spring. But Ottawa had a poor second half and was swept in the first round.

"To me, it's not about being fixed, it's about a program and getting the players to buy into it," Hartsburg said. "A scorer's not just a scorer, he needs to do more. A checker's more than just a checker, he needs to do more."

Hartsburg added his top priority with the Senators will be accountability.

"Accountability to me is just about making sure things are done right and if they're not done right, there has to be a message sent," he said.

Hartsburg spent four seasons with the Soo, leading the Greyhounds to a 179-111-41 mark. He was the OHL and Canadian Hockey League coach of the year in 2001-02, the second time he captured those honours. He first won the award in 1994-95 as bench boss of the Guelph Storm.

Hartsburg has previously been an NHL coach with both Chicago, Philadelphia and Anaheim. He sports a NHL head-coaching record of 184-190-69.

Hartsburg is probably best known, however, as the man who led Team Canada to gold-medal victories at the 2007 and 2008 world junior hockey championships. He also won gold as an assistant coach at the 2006 tourney.

The native of Stratford was drafted in the first round, sixth overall, by the Minnesota North Stars in the 1979 NHL draft. In 10 NHL seasons, all with Minnesota, he recorded 98 goals and 315 assists for 413 points in 570 career games.


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