Cory Clouston dragged his players in to work for a 9 a.m. practice on what otherwise would have, could have and probably even should have been the first day of their (all-star break) holidays.
On top of that, Clouston didn’t even bother to go out on the ice himself.
Of course, the Senators coach wasn’t exactly slacking, either. While the players skated at Bell Sensplex, Clouston was back in his Scotiabank Place office watching film and getting ready for the team’s next game, Feb. 1 in New Jersey.
Later, he pointed blame for the mess the Senators are in directly at himself.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Clouston, who has directed Ottawa to a 17-25-8 record and 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings through the season’s first 50 games. “No one feels worse about our situation than myself. I feel responsible. And I want to make sure that when we come off the break, we have everything ready to go, the guys have a good solid practice and we’re ready to play.”
While the players are off for four full days, the tightly wound Clouston is also going to take a break. For a few hours, at least.
“It’s good for the players, but I’d just as soon have a game tomorrow night, and try to get back in the win column,” he said, before relenting. “Yeah, I’ll take a day or two off. My son’s got hockey tonight so I’ll probably watch him play.”
As for bringing the players back to the rink about 10 hours after they lost their sixth game in a row — and about 178 hours before their next outing — Clouston explained: “A lot of the guys were going to have to be up anyway, just because of the travel plans. And we have an extra day. Some teams are playing (Wednesday) night, practising (Thursday). So it’s still a good opportunity. They still get a four-day break. Most of the guys, if they are leaving town, they’ll be where they need to be (Wednesday) night. So it was a situation where they get out there, get a good skate, have a little bit of fun and get yourself ready for the holiday.”
As much as they travel during the season, many of the players planned to stay as close to Ottawa for the break as they can. Mont-Tremblant is probably the most popular destination.
Most also were looking forward to a rest mentally as much as physically.
“I’m looking forward to relaxing, taking a few days off to let the body heal, then coming back refreshed for the last 30 games,” said Jesse Winchester, who was headed to Sudbury to spend time with his girlfriend. “I feel pretty happy right now, excited to have a few days off. I think most of the guys around the room would say the same thing.”
Peter Regin, who has just one goal in 46 games, hopes things will be different for both himself and the team after he “recharges the batteries” for a few days.
“To get better, to play more confident, and play the way I know I can,” he said of his post-break plans. “I’m trying to find my game every night, and every day in practice.”
Regin, whose fortunes have soured ever since he made the jersey switch to No. 13 this season, maintains he’s not superstitious and has no plans to don a new number.
“I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think it’s my gear’s fault,” he said.