It’s time for the Senators to right a wrong.
Bob Hartley, spurned three years ago when the Senators were looking for a coach, could be a good fit in Ottawa, which dumped Cory Clouston in a meeting at the airport on Saturday.
GM Bryan Murray could wait until after the first round of the playoffs to see if there are any further coaching casualties. If not, it says here the Senators have the chance to right a wrong by hiring Hartley. Sure, he’s agreed to coach Zurich in the Swiss league, but you’ve got to think he’d jump at an NHL opportunity.
Three years ago when Murray hired Craig Hartsburg after Peter DeBoer turned down the job to take a four-year deal with the Florida Panthers, Hartley was one of the front-runners.
Don’t underestimate how close Hartley was to getting the job that year. He had an impressive interview with Murray and there was a time in the process many thought he’d be the man.
Former Senators winger Shawn McEachern once told me Hartley and former Ottawa coach Jacques Martin were among the best coaches he had during his 16-year career.
Not only does Hartley have a Stanley Cup ring from his years with the Colorado Avalanche, he’s got the ability to work with young players from his five-plus seasons behind the Atlanta Thrashers bench.
Why hasn’t Hartley been hired elsewhere? Not sure, and I don’t think it really matters in the big scheme. He’ll be able to mix his ability to teach with his knack for developing young players.
This time, the Senators have to get the right man.
There was no doubt Clouston had to go. It should have happened months ago. Maybe the season could have been salvaged.
While Clouston was able to get the Senators to the playoffs last spring, his message stopped getting through to the players.
Maybe Murray didn’t want to give the players what they wanted ... so instead of sacking the coach, he started dealing players.
“The players have to feel like you’ve got their back a little bit,” said a veteran coach on the weekend.
For whatever reason, some of the veterans didn’t respond. It was only after there were several callups from their Binghamton farm club that the Senators began to click.
The biggest issue for Clouston was an inability to communicate.
Now, the Senators face a pivotal decision: Who is next?
And maybe they shouldn’t look past Hartley when they make that decision.