Fresh off Fridays brutal 7-1 beating by the Montreal Canadiens, everyone is waiting for the axe to fall on Ottawa coach Cory Clouston.
I have played on losing teams before and I can tell you as bad as it stings for the fans right now, players, coaches and management are more miserable than anyone.
As we all know, pro sports is a results-driven business ó a brutal business ó and if you donít win, you will be replaced. Right or wrong, the coach is always first to go ó thatís just the cold, hard truth.
General managers, on the other hand, have a longer life span because they usually have the ear of ownership and when the you-no-what hits the fan and it comes down to whose fault it is for the clubís demise, most GMs are quick to throw their coach under the bus before the owner points the finger their way.
Here in Ottawa, we have a situation where a club that was projected to contend in the Eastern Conference has hit rock bottom and sits today as a lottery team in the standings. So, whoís fault is it? Who should take the fall?
Itís easy to point the finger at Clouston. The simplest thing to do is to fire the coach because you canít fire 20 players, but with the amount of coaches this team has gone through since the Senators reached the Stanley Cup final, one would have to think sooner or later, with much of this teamís core still in place, is this all just about coaching?
Obviously, Clouston has not done a good job this season. If he had, the team would not be where it is today, but in saying that, there is probably not a more dedicated and hard-working coach in the NHL.
Clouston spends countless hours at the rink trying to figure out ways to get his team to perform at an elite level. But you donít gain points in the standings for trying hard and putting in long hours.
In my NHL career, I played for many different coaches ó including Barry Trotz, Jacques Martin, Scotty Bowman, Dave Lewis, Ron Wilson and Bryan Murray.
From every coach, you learn something new. Each has a different style, a different way about them, but to me the most important thing about a coach and how effective he is has nothing to do with the Xís and Oís of the game or how well he can run a video meeting.
Needs to motivate
The most important ingredient a coach needs to have is the ability to motivate and get the most out of the different personalities and egos that make up the dynamics of a hockey club.
Good coaches need to have the ability to know what makes their players tick and the best way to handle each individual player so they get each playerís best on a consistent basis.
Especially in the new NHL, you can leave no stone unturned as a coach as far as preparation and due diligence goes. But just like any cutting-edge leading business, the person leading the ship has to be able to get the best out of his staff if that business is going to be successful.
The Senators have not been good to this point and the most troubling aspect is that this team, for the most part, is working pretty hard, but just not getting anywhere.
Yes, the coach should be held accountable. To be fair, when a team is putting forth a decent effort, but is just not good enough to win consistently, common sense tells you maybe you have to look deeper than just the coach and more in the direction of the person that has put this team together.
The bottom line is when a team is struggling as bad as the Senators have, players, coaches and managers all must share in the blame.
Here in Ottawa, the continued silence from ownership is making this situation tough to stomach and watch.