'We let our coach down'

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

The mood was light at the first practice of the post-Craig Hartsburg era.

Finally, the shoe had dropped.

"We've been told for so long that something is going to happen, not by anybody in the organization, but the whole city. Somebody was getting traded, somebody was getting fired ... the way we've been going, it was almost like it was bound to happen," Senators defenceman Brendan Bell said. "You can't go on that long playing that poorly and not expect something to change. Unfortunately for us, we let our coach down."

Like John Paddock before him, Hartsburg was canned because players who are thought to be better were not performing. Hence, their reputation as "coach killers".

Jason Spezza, who on more than one occasion was singled out for his shortcomings, would not say if he thought Hartsburg was the wrong fit.

"That's Bryan's decision and he made it," he said, referring to GM Bryan Murray. "We didn't perform up to our potential and hopefully we can get that going."

Spezza said taking the heat he does comes with the territory.

"When you're a centreman and you play a lot, it's going to be brought up," he said. "When the team's not doing well, you're going to take a lot of criticism, just like I get a lot of credit when we're winning."

Mike Fisher said there was nothing about Hartsburg's system that should have hindered the Senators' chances of scoring.

'DID A GOOD JOB'

"He did a good job of preparing us," said Fisher. "It was just a situation where we couldn't get turned around, and there was kind of a fall over effect from the year before. He just got in on a bad situation.

"Anytime you're not successful and don't reach your potential or whatever, coaches are going to go. Every one us feels we're part of it."

Of Clouston, goalie Brian Elliott said: "He's a guy that hates losing just as much as the next guy. He tells it like it is. Sometimes it may not be what you want to hear, but he'll let you know."

The Senators were told by Murray that they have a month, until the NHL's trade deadline, to show they want to stay here.

"I love being in the Ottawa Senators organization, I think it's the same for every guy in this room," said Nick Foligno. "We want to make sure we make it known and do whatever it takes to win. That's what it comes down to. You can put any coach behind us, but it comes down to the players."


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