Cory Clouston isn’t making any apologies.
The Senators coach — on the defensive over pulling goaltender Pascal Leclaire after he gave up two goals on five shots six minutes into the 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes Thursday — doesn’t care if people disagree with his decision.
As the Senators prepare to host the arch-rival Maple Leafs Saturday at Scotiabank Place, Clouston insisted he’ll make whatever moves it takes to win.
“Do I think it’s fair? There’s no such thing as fair in hockey. We’re trying to win games,” said Clouston. “There’s no difference if I bench a player or put him out after a bad play. It’s not about being fair. It’s about trying to win games. We tried to win that game (Thursday).
“I thought Brian (Elliott) gave us a real good chance to win that game. Unfortunately, we didn’t score. We had two breakaways in the third. You can say all you want about the goaltenders, but we have to score more than one goal as well.”
Clouston said Leclaire — who hadn’t started a game since Jan. 12 — should have stopped both goals, by Tom Kostopoulos and Rod Brind’Amour, before being yanked in favour of Elliott at 6:23.
“They’re saves that we need our goaltender to make. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been pulled,” said Clouston. “And, normally, when he’s playing his game, he makes those saves.”
Clouston and Leclaire met Friday to discuss the poor performance.
“He told me where his head and heart were at. I explained the reason behind it and he was fine with it,” said Clouston. “He is a competitor and he wants to be in the net. He let me know where his thoughts were.”
While Leclaire told the media he didn’t “need to speak” with Clouston, the two did meet after practice, the coach told HockeyCentral at Noon.
Leclaire just wants to move on and get back on track.
“I’m going to forget about it. I’ll just try to have some good practices and things will come,” he said.
“Things happen quick in a game and you make decisions. Sometimes for the players, it’s not fun. You deal with it the best as possible and you try to learn from it. I don’t think there’s any use in continuing to talk about it. It’s done, it’s done. That’s the way I’ve always deal with my hockey things. I’m not going to change.”
Leclaire said there is nothing he can do about it, although he was “surprised” to be pulled so early.
“That’s a coaching decision. You have to go with it. I’m not going to go in there and fight,” said Leclaire. “I respect the decision. He made a move he thought was best for the team. I want to do whatever is best for the team. I was pretty surprised, six minutes in, but I’m sure I’m not the first one who got pulled in the first 10 minutes.”
Clouston is actually pleased he’s taking the heat, instead of his goalie.
“We still believe in Pascal,” said Clouston. “But right now, all the questions are focused on whether I took him out too early as opposed to leaving him in there and things could have went south the way we were playing without the support.
“Right now, the pressure is my shoulders, instead of his. You’re asking questions pertaining to me as opposed to him and that’s perfect. He’s still a good goalie. He’ll get through this.”