Hunt over for coaching staff

Craig Hartsburg fields questions from journalists during a press conference introducing him as the...

Craig Hartsburg fields questions from journalists during a press conference introducing him as the Ottawa Senators' new head coach at Scotiabank Place on Friday, June 13, 2008. (Darren Calabrese/Sun Media)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

Craig Hartsburg hopes this combination is as good as gold.

Getting ready to step behind the Senators' bench for the first time next season after being hired last month, the club's coach reached into his past and completed his staff yesterday by hiring Regina Pats coach Curtis Hunt as an assistant.

Hunt, 41, who worked with Hartsburg during back-to-back gold-medal victories at the world junior championships with Team Canada, resigned his post with the WHL's Pats after four seasons behind the bench and after leading the club to an East Division title.

"I conducted a good search and I talked to a lot of people and the key for me is that you want knowledge, you want loyalty and you want character and Curtis has all three of those," said Hartsburg in a conference call with reporters.

"I've seen what he can do. I never knew Curtis before the world junior tournament two years ago, but I think once he does some work with our players they are going to be really excited to have him on board."

As reported by Sun Media yesterday, Hartsburg held talks with Calgary Flames assistant Wayne Fleming. But the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on a contract during discussions earlier this week and that's when Hartsburg decided to turn to Hunt.

Hunt doesn't have any coaching experience in the NHL, but the transition will be made easier because being an assistant means he won't be under the microscope. Hunt received a three-year contract, which is the same length as Hartsburg's deal.

'THRILLED'

"I'm absolutely thrilled with the opportunity," said Hunt. "One of the most important things to me is the chance to work with Craig at this level.I think it provides some new challenges, obviously for myself, and there's lots of work here before we get started. I'm certainly very excited.

"I've talked to Craig a lot over the last little while. I've had a chance to talk to (GM) Bryan (Murray) in terms of the direction they've set with a leadership group and it's quite an honour. I'm really excited to get to work."

With Hunt in place, Hartsburg now has his coaching staff set for next season.

Hunt will work mainly with the club's defence and penalty killing -- a job he has done with Team Canada at the last two junior tournaments. Assistant Greg Carvel will be in charge of the forwards and the powerplay. Goalie coach Eli Wilson also be back next season.

"Hopefully, the players will (buy into) the war cry on our team which is, 'All in and do whatever it takes.' I know the coaching staff will certainly do that and if the players can follow our lead, I'm sure that we're going to be able to have a lot of success," said Hartsburg.

A ninth-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 1985, Hunt had a long minor-league career -- mostly in the former International Hockey League. Many believe he is ready to make the next step to the NHL and Hartsburg didn't have any problem giving him the chance.

"He's extremely hard-working and he works with a lot of enthusiasm, which is important. He's got a great vision of the game and obviously, for me, spending Christmas with him, living with him and working with him, we've got a great deal in common," said Hartsburg.


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