A real Harts breaker

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Craig Hartsburg sounded broken, beaten and confused.

He didn't point any fingers at the underachievers. He didn't chide GM Bryan Murray for not bringing in the right talent.

He didn't accuse owner Eugene Melnyk of meddling.

Instead, the former Senators coach, in his first public comments since being fired 24 hours earlier, his voice cracking at times during a conference call, apologized for not getting the job done.

"I'm very disappointed in what's happened. Both in being fired and also in how our team has played," said Hartsburg in a statement before taking questions.

"I'm not here to make excuses or blame others. As a coach, I take great pride in my team's work ethic, high level of competing and team play. I take responsibility for those not being good enough.

"This is me sounding goofy, but as a coach I feel I could have done a better job and I let them down."

Replaced by Cory Clouston following an ugly 7-4 loss to the Washington Capitals Sunday, Hartsburg was given the news by Murray following the 90-minute flight home. Yes, Hartsburg had heard the rumours, but there was more disappointment than shock.

HERE FOR 48 GAMES

Only 48 games into a three-year contract he signed with the Senators, Hartsburg was shown the door with the club sitting at No. 13 in the East, 14 points out of a playoff spot. Previously, Hartsburg had been fired by both the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks.

"I've been in the game a long time and nothing really surprises you anymore," said Hartsburg. "It was such an up-and-down year with lots of rumours and lots of things being said from the outside that you really didn't know (about).

"I tried not to focus on it. I spent most of my energy on trying to make sure our players were not affected by, not just the rumours about me, but trades and Bryan. It is what it is.

"This is a business about winning. These are the kinds of things that happen (when teams don't win)."

Noticeably absent from all of this was Melnyk. He told reporters last week he speaks with Murray "three or four times" a day, which means he probably had input when this decision was made, but Hartsburg wasn't going to blame the guy who signs the paycheques either.

"You know what: My boss was Bryan Murray and I talked to Bryan daily. As far as I know, it was just (Murray's decision). I spoke very rarely to Eugene Melnyk," said Hartsburg.

DIDN'T POINT FINGER

If Hartsburg had wanted to go out with guns blazing, he could have pointed the finger at Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Antoine Vermette, Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov and a host of others who aren't playing up to their potential.

"I don't think it's just about certain players," said Hartsburg. "It's about the team itself. We just didn't get the work habits, competing and playing the team game with structure.

"It certainly shouldn't fall on any one group of players. It's my responsibility to get those things done and it didn't happen.

"Every day is tough. It's still really early in the process and so many emotions are going through my head.

"You need time to reflect and look back at the things that we tried to do and try to learn from it. Right now, it's hard to say I should have done this different or should have done that different."


Videos

Photos