|Bob Hartley was a candidate for the Senators' head coaching job three years ago. (JEAN-FRANCOIS DESGAGNES/QMI Agency)
Itís 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, heís agreed to coach Zurich in the Swiss league, but youíve got to think heíd 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.
Donít 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 heíd 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, heís got the ability to work with young players from his five-plus seasons behind the Atlanta Thrashers bench.
Why hasnít Hartley been hired elsewhere? Not sure, and I donít think it really matters in the big scheme. Heíll 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 didnít want to give the players what they wanted ... so instead of sacking the coach, he started dealing players.
ďThe players have to feel like youíve got their back a little bit,Ē said a veteran coach on the weekend.
For whatever reason, some of the veterans didnít 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 shouldnít look past Hartley when they make that decision.