Clouston: 'I'm just going to be myself'

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Cory Clouston was planning on relaxing and watching the Super Bowl after what he called his own version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles -- a Binghamton Senators road trip that had them playing in San Antonio, Houston and at home in three days.

Before he got too comfortable came the call from Bryan Murray, and suddenly he was on the road again.

Not that the 39-year-old native of Viking, Alta was complaining.

"Obviously," said Clouston, "I was very excited."

Clouston became the ninth coach in Senators history when he agreed to a deal which will see him behind the team's bench for the remainder of the season and longer, if he can get it straightened around.

Self-described as a grinding centre/left winger when he played for the University of Alberta from 1989-93, Clouston said his job is to help the Senators realize their potential. To do that, he has to coax some goals out of the lowest- scoring team in the NHL.

"They're a good team. They've got to remember what it felt like when they were a good team," Clouston (rhymes with Houston) said after running his first practice yesterday afternoon. "We made a few adjustments I think the guys are going to appreciate and enjoy. Hopefully, they'll generate a little more offence without sacrificing our defence."

Clouston said he'll introduce the Senators to "a little different way" of breaking the puck out.

"I know people say our defence can't move the puck," he said. "I don't necessarily believe that. If they're given the right direction, and the right options, as long as they have certain cues, and the forwards are in the right position ... if (the defence) have no options, it's pretty difficult for them."

Clouston, whose brother Shawn is an associate coach with the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers, has an 11-year-old son and a "significant other" of eight years. She did not live in Binghamton, however, and in his 15 games with the Baby Senators earlier this season, Brendan Bell told Ottawa teammates Clouston was "all business" and the coach was at the rink 24-7.

"It's not every day you go home from the rink and you're laughing, but you develop and he helps you out," said centre Peter Regin, who was promoted from Binghamton a couple of weeks ago.

"He has a lot of energy, and he brings that into the team he is coaching. He's hard on guys and makes everybody work hard. He makes people be at the top level as often as possible."

For a diminutive fellow, Clouston voice has volume. Reporters watching him run drills yesterday could hear exactly what he was demanding of the players.

But how will he get their respect? Clouston has only 1 1/2 seasons of pro hockey under his belt.

"I'm just going to be myself," he said. "I've coached against Dany Heatley, however many years ago when he played junior in Calgary. So a lot of these guys I'm familiar with. Right now, I'm not even worried about (the respect factor). Right now what I'm worried about is being myself, preparing these players, being accountable, and allowing these guys and showing them I'm going to do whatever I possibly can to allow them to succeed."

Asked if he's a "player's coach," Clouston said: "I don't think you'd describe me as a player's coach."

Clouston said the playoffs will not be "the focus" of the Senators, but coming together as a team will be. He pointed to two teams in the AHL --Albany and Norfolk -- who are all but mathematically eliminated from qualifying for the post-season, yet play hard every night. That's what he wants of the Senators.

Asked if he believes he's ready for his first NHL job, Clouston said: "Yeah, I think I am. Absolutely."

We'll see.

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MEET THE COACH

- The 39-year-old native of Viking, Alta., was in his second season as coach of the Binghamton Senators.

- Previously, he coached the WHL's Kootenay Ice for five seasons, compiling a .637 winning percentage with 209 wins, 146 losses. The Ice made the playoffs each of those five seasons.

- He is a two-time WHL coach of the year and was named Canadian Hockey League coach of the year in 2004-05.

- Prior to his AHL stint, Clouston coached in both the Tier II Alberta and B.C. junior hockey leagues.

- Clouston was an assistant coach when Canada's national under-18 squad won the 2005 U-18 Junior World Cup, and coached the gold-medal winning Canadian squad in 2006.

- As a player, Clouston spent four years at the University of Alberta, including as a member of the 1991-92 CIS-champion Golden Bears. He holds a bachelor's degree in recreation administration.


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