Coaching choice up to GM, says Melnyk

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:26 PM ET

BOSTON - The decision on the next coach of the Senators will be up to GM Bryan Murray, and not the man who pays his salary.

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk told the Team 1200's pre-game show Saturday he'll suggest possible replacements for Cory Clouston, but Murray will have the final say on the team's next bench boss.

Clouston was let go as Ottawa's coach after Saturday's loss to the Bruins in the team's final game of the season. There has been plenty of speculation that Melnyk might want Murray to hire Mississauga St. Michael's Majors coach Dave Cameron. Melnyk owns the OHL's Majors and has a long working relationship with Cameron, who guided Canada to a silver medal at this year's world junior championship.

However, Melnyk said he has no intention of ordering Murray who to hire.

"I can tell you when you tell people to put their stamp on a team, don't tell them how to put their stamp on it," said Melnyk. "Do I have suggestions? Absolutely. Does (Murray) have the autonomy to override that? Yes, he does.

"Let the pros do what they do best. That's why they get paid the big bucks. If they come back and they know this is the guy for this team, I'm not going to stand in the way. You can't put your finger into things when you want and then blame them when it goes bad."

Melnyk also said the club likely won't spend to the salary cap next season because he wants to leave room to make deals with contenders who might be in cap trouble later in the season.

"We've learned the hard way money doesn't buy you a Stanley Cup. It can get you a long way if you're smart," said Melnyk. "If we don't spend to the cap next year, don't take that as a message we're trying to cut back.

"We're just loading up our ammo and ready to go. We'll be ready when the opportunities arise, and they will."

HOME SWEET HOME

Saturday afternoon's game was a nice homecoming for Ottawa RW Bobby Butler. The native of nearby Marlboro, Mass., got a chance to play in front of 60 friends for the first time in his NHL career and he scored his 10th of the season in the first period. "It was nice to put one in here, but we didn't get the two points, so it kind of stinks," said Butler. Still, the day didn't quite work out as planned. Butler's father John, a longtime hockey coach, wasn't in the crowd. He was in Minnesota for the NCAA's Frozen Four tournament, where Butler's brother Al, a defenceman for UMass Lowell, was playing. The elder Butler planned to catch the Sens game at a bar. "My Dad wanted to stay here, but I told him it was more important to be there," said Butler.

DROPPING THE GLOVES

Senators C Zack Smith and Bruins C Nathan Horton had a heck of a fight at 9:24 of the second. Might have been the most punches I've seen thrown this year. It appeared Horton asked C Jesse Winchester to drop the gloves before Smith stepped in to accept the challenge. "(Milan Lucic) skated over and wanted to know what I was doing," said Smith. "He was asking a lot of questions. I just told Jesse I would take care of this. He had taken a lot of faceoffs." ... Ottawa hockey fans have seen the last of LW Francis Lessard. He was given a two-game suspension for his hit on Montreal's Tom Pyatt in Thursday's 3-2 OT victory over the Habs. Lessard had a hearing Friday. "That was the right call. I was upset when it was first made," said Clouston. "If they're going to err on the safe side, that's the type of call that needs to be made."

HEADING DOWN AND OUT

The Senators won't waste any time making their final roster moves. RW Bobby Butler, D David Hale, RW Erik Condra, D Andre Benoit, D Derek Smith, C Colin Greening and C Cody Bass will all be sent to AHL Binghamton Sunday for the Calder Cup playoffs. The rest of the Senators will gather Monday at Scotiabank Place to clean out their lockers. D Erik Karlsson will not play in the world championship.

THINGS I THINK I THINK

The Senators decided to recall C Cody Bass for their final game. Bass, 24, was called up from the club's AHL affiliate for the first time since 2008-09. He had six goals and 25 points in 58 games with Binghamton. "He's worked extremely hard," said Clouston. "He's had an up and down few years." ... Boston D Shane Hnidy must have thought he was playing for Ottawa when he gave the puck to C Jason Spezza to help set up the opening goal ... The Senators used 37 players this season: 20 forwards, 11 defencemen and a franchise-record six goalies. The club had 43 different bodies in 1993-94, Ottawa's second season. Bass was the 16th Binghamton callup this season ... Clouston's decision to start G Curtis McElhinney in the final game ahead of Craig Anderson was likely the coach's way of flexing his muscles one last time ... Wish D Chris Phillips had scored in the first. Instead, he hit the post. The Big Rig has the best goal celebration in the NHL when he raises his stick in the air.

C'EST WHAT?

"If you can't do it in three years, you know we'll shake hands and it's all the best. This is going to give him time to do what he wants to do. I'm taking a shot. He's taking a shot." -- Senators owner Eugene Melnyk on his decision to keep GM Bryan Murray.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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