Who's Senators' next coach?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:14 PM ET

Experts say Senators canít afford to go young with their next coach ... they should look for experience ... so Whoís Next?

LINDY RUFF

The Buffalo Sabres coach is the top free agent available this summer, but he likely isnít going anywhere after 13 seasons behind the bench. Itís going to be up to Ruff, 51, to decide if wants to move because owner Terry Pegula has been definitive about keeping Ruff. If he does move, Ruff has a strong relationship with GM Bryan Murray from their days together with the Panthers. Ruff would make the most sense.

JOHN TORTORELLA

This is a guy who has a short shelf life. Heís done a good job with the Rangers, but many wonder just how long he is going to be there. Tortorella can wear on players, although, he won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Heíd crack the whip without a doubt and donít doubt his ability to work with young players. He can do it and get the most out of them.

DAVE CAMERON

He has been in owner Eugene Melnykís stable since he bought the Mississauga St. Michaelís Majors and thatís why Cameron is mentioned as a top candidate. It doesnít make sense to thrust him into this job. He needs time to develop and his act works well in junior. Not sure it will work here. The betting is heíll be an assistant on the clubís staff. The meltdown in the world junior final vs. the Russians didnít help.

KURT KLEINENDORST

He has done a great job with the clubís AHL affiliate in Binghamton and has had to deal with several roster changes through the course of the season. Heís not afraid to hold the young players accountable and has experience from the New Jersey Devils organization. The question: Is Kleinendorst ready to take the next step? The Senators tried this route with Clouston and it didnít work.

ALAIN VIGNEAULT

Yes, the Vancouver Canucks are going into the playoffs as one of the NHLís best teams, but if they make an early exit, then Vigneault could be on thin ice. The expectations are high for the Canucks and he has to take them on a long run. Vigneault is from the area, spent a long time behind the Hull Olympiques bench, is a former Senators assistant and has shown he can get the most out of players.

WORTH A LOOK

Kevin Dineen: The Portland Pirates coach has had other chances and has always been passed up.

Randy Cunneyworth: Former Senators captain has done a good job running the AHLís Hamilton Bulldogs.

Bob Hartley: He nearly got the job when Hartsburg was hired and, in hindsight, probably should have.

WHERE DID IT GO WRONG

ACCOUNTABILITY: This was why Clouston was hired and he didnít live up to the billing. In Binghamton, he wasnít regarded as a playersí coach. In fact, many couldnít stand him and hoped he would fall flat on his face with the Senators. He didnít, at first. Clouston held Ottawa players accountable until this season. He lost a lot of respect with his handling of Alex Kovalev. He put him on the fourth line for one shift and then immediately moved him back to the top line. At that point, Cloustonís days were likely numbered.

PERSONALITY: A coach has to have a little fun once in a while and has to have a feel for whatís happening with his players. Cloustonís decision not to allow Nick Foligno to participate in a Jan. 18 shootout with his father Mike on the Anaheim bench is a shining example of his lack of people skills. ďI donít think he does it on purpose, I just think he coaches with blinders on,Ē is the way one NHL executive described Clouston. Every so often you have to let the players enjoy the game. Clouston doesnít get it.

BENCH MANAGEMENT: This is Cloustonís greatest weakness. There were too many nights he didnít have the right people on the ice at the right times and it turned out to be costly. The Senators have led the league in ďtoo many men on the iceĒ penalties and thatís a result of not getting the right message from the man behind the bench. Players have spoken privately about the fact they donít know who is supposed to be on the ice and confusion from the man in charge.

WHATíS NEXT FOR CLOUSTON?

Heíll likely either have to accept a position as a coach in the AHL or go back to the WHL. His chances of being an NHL assistant arenít good, which means itíll be back to riding the buses for Clouston.


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