Clouston takes over

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:19 PM ET

Craig Hartsburg's days with the Senators are over and a fresh new face is taking over behind the team's bench.

The Senators have just confirmed at a press conference at Scotiabank Place this morning that Hartsburg has been relieved and Binghamton Senators coach Cory Clouston is taking over the reins on an interim basis.

Assistant coach Curtis Hunt was also let go. He has been offered a position in Binghamton.

"It's sad. Based on the record, team performance and the competitive level at this time," said GM Bryan Murray. "We hoped there would be change in our performance and it didn't happen."

Under Hartsburg, the team compiled a 17-24-3-4 record and sits 13th in the 15-team Eastern Conference. The Senators are 14 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. The last straw came Sunday, when the club closed out a three-game road trip with only one victory and a 7-4 loss to the Washington Capitals.

"I told him I had to make a change. Obviously it was emotional," said Murray of his meeting with Hartsburg on Sunday night, when he was informed of the decision.

Clouston has been the coach of Ottawa's AHL affiliate in Binghamton. He has led a talented young team in Binghamton to a 25-16-3 record in his second season there as head coach.

"I'm obviously very excited. The phone rang and here I am," said Clouston.

"My recommendation was Cory," said Murray. "He knows our players and our prospects. He gets max performance out of his players."

Owner Eugene Melnyk said just last week he remained optimistic about the club's chances of making the playoffs. But after the dismal road trip it's believed frustration with the team's inconsistency boiled over.

An NHL executive noted late Sunday the Senators look like a team "with no structure" and Hartsburg simply hasn't lived up to expectations. It hasn't helped that top players Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher, Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov have all had their share of struggles.

This most recent firing comes less than a year after the club fired head coach John Paddock on Feb. 25th, 2008. Murray returned behind the bench to finish out the season before hiring Hartsburg over the summer.

Murray, who has been unable to make a trade that makes any sense for the club, said following the loss to Washington he was disappointed: "I'd like to think we had the ability to play better, but we didn't do it."


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