Clouston to players: 'Wake the (bleep) up!'

Ottawa Senators head coach Cory Clouston instructs his players during practice at the Sensplex...

Ottawa Senators head coach Cory Clouston instructs his players during practice at the Sensplex earlier this year. (Errol McGihon/QMI Agency)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

NEW YORK — Cory Clouston couldn’t bite his tongue any longer Wednesday at Chelsea Piers.

Not happy with the way the Senators were performing a drill at the rink in Manhattan, Clouston blew his whistle, called everybody to the boards and delivered a stern message to the troops:

“Wake the (bleep) up!”

While there has been plenty of talk about Senators auditioning for jobs next season, Clouston is in the same position as many of the players. He doesn’t have a guaranteed job after July 1, either, when his contract expires.

The belief is not long after the Senators play their season finale April 9, he will find himself looking for work.

So, is Clouston auditioning for a job as well?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m just trying to win hockey games. I’m trying to improve our team. I’m trying to help these young guys get better. I’m trying to help the older guys get better.

“I’m trying to create a team environment and create a team atmosphere that is conducive to moving the team forward. A lot of things happened this year that put us in a situation where it didn’t allow us to get to the playoffs.

“No one feels worse about that than I do or more responsible for that than I do. In saying that, I feel that this group of guys, even with the injuries we’ve got, are a good hockey club.”

Clouston has to shoulder some responsibility. The Senators aren’t a 29th-place team by accident. His decision-making has been questioned on many nights.

Clearly, Clouston feels the moves by GM Bryan Murray to unload veterans at the deadline were the right ones. The coach is especially pleased with the goaltending tandem of Craig Anderson and Curtis McElhinney.

“The goaltending has been stabilized,” said Clouston. “When I look at the guys moved on, they’re not tearing it up and they’re not going out and playing so much better. In fact, a lot of them had better numbers here.

“What (the trades) did was allow us to get younger and provided us (a chance) to move the team in a rebuilding direction. I guess, quite frankly, almost two years ago when I got here, that was one of the reasons why I was here: To see if this team needed to be, I don’t want to say blown up, but moved in a different direction. Two years later, that’s what’s happened.”

Clouston won’t let the work ethic slip until the final buzzer sounds on the season. He’s going to keep his hard-nosed approach and make sure the Senators show respectability right to the finish.

“I’m not going to let up,” said Clouston. “I’m going to continue to stress and push the little things. The things that we’ve been doing. If I don’t, we’re not going to win games.

“When you look at it on paper, this team is not going to out-talent or outperform the opposition if we don’t do those little things. We have to stress (those), we have to be structured and playing hard for 60 minutes.”

Clouston said he isn’t thinking about next season.

“That’s just my makeup,” he said. “You go out and work hard today and then you address tomorrow. You have a plan and you have a vision. Every day, you’ve got to make sure that vision gets done.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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