Craig Hartsburg, 48, a father of two, was named the sixth coach in Senators history yesterday at Scotiabank Place. After the formal part of the announcement, he sat down with Sun hockey writer Bruce Garrioch for a few minutes to let readers get to know a few things about the Hartsburg they don't see when he's not standing behind the bench:
SUN: It's Friday the 13th. Do you have any superstitions? Any concerns about being named the coach of the Senators on this day?
HARTSBURG: "My wife (Peggy) reminded me of that this morning. I didn't know about it all. I don't have any superstitions."
SUN: Favourite restaurant?
HARTSBURG: "For the last four years it's been an Italian place in Sault Ste. Marie, but I'm looking forward to trying some new ones in Ottawa."
SUN: Favourite food?
HARTSBURG: "My wife will kill me when I say this, but it's steak."
SUN: Biggest influence on your coaching career?
HARTSBURG: "A person, you mean ... You know what, with myself, it's every coach that I've played with, every coach that I've worked with, either they've been my assistants or I've been one of their assistants and I think you take something away from every one of them."
SUN: Best hockey memory?
HARTSBURG: "As a player, playing in the (1987) Canada Cup. As a coach, (winning gold) the last two years at the world junior."
SUN: Biggest thrill in hockey?
HARTSBURG: "It's being able to do something you love either as a player or as a coach. How many people get to do things in life or work at things that they truly love?"
SUN: Favourite TV show?
HARTSBURG: "Any hockey game, to tell you the truth. I'm in depression right now because there's no hockey to watch. It's either Hockey Night in Canada or I burn out the NHL Centre Ice package."
SUN: Favourite music?
HARTSBURG: "Country. I have an iPod, but I don't use it. I don't listen to much music. We watched a lot of goofy movies on the bus with the kids that I'm not going to miss."
SUN: Best player you played with?
HARTSBURG: "I played with Wayne Gretzky in the Soo when we were in junior and I got to play with him at some Canada Cup (tournaments). He'd have to be the best.
SUN: Best player you've coached?
HARTSBURG: "Chris Chelios."
SUN: First coaching job?
HARTSBURG: "I was an assistant in Minnesota the year after I retired. The last two years I wasn't playing because I had lots of injuries and I started thinking about (coaching). I got lucky because Pierre Page gave me an opportunity to come in as the third assistant. There wasn't a lot of responsibility, but I watched and was able to see what the life of a coach was about.
SUN: First championship you won?
HARTSBURG: "Playing for Stratford, we won the all-Ontario bantam championship. I think we beat Richmond Hill in the finals."
SUN: Career highlight?
HARTSBURG: "Playing in the final against the New York Islanders (in 1981). They were a good team and they beat us fairly easily, but it was a great thrill to battle to get to that point."
SUN: If you weren't a hockey coach, what would you do?
HARTSBURG: "I'd probably be a schoolteacher. I like teaching and trying to make people better."
SUN: Favourite road city?
HARTSBURG: "In the OHL (laughing) ... In the NHL, the Canadian cities are always the best. Places like Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and just the passion the communities have for the game. Hockey is loved. You get off the plane and you can just feel it."
HARTSBURG: "I love to fish. I live on the water in Sault Ste. Marie. The biggest fish I probably ever caught is 24-lb. salmon."
SUN: Any athletes outside of hockey you admire?
HARTSBURG: "You love to watch any great athlete, whether it's Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan in his prime with the Chicago Bulls. You love to watch those guys because they love pressure. Pressure should be something you embrace. You want to be part of big moments."
SUN: Is your biggest challenge to turn Jason Spezza into a Selke Trophy candidate?
HARTSBURG: (Laughing). "Jason is a gifted player and we want him to continue to be a gifted player, but we're going to try to add to his game."
SUN: Are you looking forward to getting back on the planes again?
HARTSBURG: "I'm not going to miss the 12 bus rides between Soo and Erie, I can tell you that much."
SUN: How do you like to start your day?
HARTSBURG: "I'm an early riser. I like to get up, have coffee with my wife and talk about a few things. Then, I like to get into the office early and get to work."
CHRIS STEVENSON'S THINGS HARTSBURG MUST DO TO FIX THE SENATORS
Almost all the areas the Senators must improve revolve around defence:
1. The club needs to improve its goals against, which slipped to 23rd in the league last season (2.92 a game). They were 10th in 2006-07, when they went to the Stanley Cup final, with a 2.61 GAA.
2. A big part of improving the goals against will be shoring up the penalty killing. That means an upgrade in personnel, better systems and better reactions to opponents' adjustments. The Senators were ninth in the league two seasons ago, allowing 61 power-play goals (84.5% efficiency). They slipped to 22nd last season, allowing 72 goals (81% efficiency).
3. Hartsburg needs to instill a larger sense of discipline, both on and off the ice. Forget "structure," which is one of the most overused cliches in the game. On and off the ice, it simply means players knowing their jobs and the consequences of not doing them.
4. The Senators must have more of a four-line game. A lot the responsibility for that will fall on GM Bryan Murray to upgrade the fourth line. Hartsburg can't lean as heavily on the Big Three (captain Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley) who looked broken down and worn out come the playoffs after playing so much in the regular season.
5. Speaking of Spezza, if Hartsburg is going to be successful, he must rise to the challenge many coaches have faced before him, with limited success. Hartsburg must get Spezza to be more responsible with the puck.
Hey, nobody said this was going to be easy.