Craig lists Sens' failings

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

BOSTON -- Senators coach Craig Hartsburg sounded like a man resigned to his fate.

With the Senators coming off a 6-4 loss to the Bruins on Thursday to end a brutal eight-game road trip at 1-6-1, the question is who will owner Eugene Melnyk blame for the mess his team is in?

Rumours continue to swirl that one or both of GM Bryan Murray and Hartsburg could be fired.

With tickets for the Senators' remaining home games this season set to go on sale this morning at Scotiabank Place, a cynic might say the only way the team will move tickets is if it moves out its coach and GM.

Ottawa, which has 32 points, hasn't been this bad at the 39-game mark since January 1997 (31 points).

That '97 team managed to make the post-season for the first time in Senators history.

This year's team is likely to be the first to miss the playoffs since then.

"We're at the point now where, you talk about a goaltending change or personnel changes or whatever, but it has been a frustrating, frustrating part ... the coaching staff philosophy is that the team is the most important thing and we haven't been able to get that through," said Hartsburg. "That's not something we're very proud of as coaches."

Hartsburg admitted the issues have been going on all season and the harder the club has worked to turn it around, the worse it has gotten. He raised eyebrows when he criticized captain Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza for Thursday's loss in Boston.

"This is not just in the last week or so to get where we are right now," said Hartsburg. "There's obviously parts of our team personnel-wise that maybe aren't what we need to be a top team. But I think the biggest thing is having a total commitment from every guy for 60 minutes to do the right things. I'm not pointing fingers at certain players.

"(Thursday) it was (Alfredsson) and Spezza who turn pucks over. The night before it could be somebody else or you don't get a save or the defence (doesn't get the job done). It's not just one guy or one line. Everybody seems to take their turn at it. To me that's about being committed to your team and we haven't been able to get that."

Hartsburg said he doesn't know why the players haven't bought in.

"As a coaching staff, we haven't been able to get that and so instead of just pointing fingers at players, we have to take that responsibility as coaches. We have to say, 'For whatever reason we haven't been able to get that total focus of committed effort from 20 guys every night.' That's why we're at where we're at," said Hartsburg.

"Yes, there's parts of our team, that we need (help) and the personnel is not as strong. You don't win in this league unless you play as a team.

"That's why Boston is successful. They've got some great players, skill players and lots of depth, but there's no real cracks in their game. We found some ways to generate some offence, but for the most part they outplayed us. They play a team game and that's why they're the best team in the league."

Alfredsson said everybody has to start pulling in the same direction.

"We're very fragile. When things don't go our way, I can see we do get away from our game plan and we don't follow through and trust each other," said Alfredsson. "I don't know whether it's frustration and we want to get back and we want to win too much.

"I'm the perfect example. I want to win too much. I'm going to have to get back and simplify my game. Rather than just trying to take it upon myself to do everything, I've just got to play simple and within the system. Sometimes when you want something really bad ... everybody wants to get out of this and maybe too much."


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