MacLean to be new Sens coach
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|The Ottawa Senators will announce Paul MacLean as their new coach as early as Tuesday. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Two months after sending Cory Clouston packing, Senators GM Bryan Murray will introduce Detroit assistant Paul MacLean as the ninth coach in team history during a news conference as early as Tuesday at Scotiabank Place.
MacLean, 53, has been an assistant under Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock since 2005-06.
Like Clouston, MacLean has no head coaching experience at the NHL level, but has plenty in the minor leagues and was an assistant to Babcock for three years with the Anaheim Ducks — while Murray was the GM.
“Paul MacLean deserves the chance,” said a league executive Monday. “He’s paid his dues. He’s won at every level. Now, it’s time to find out whether he can coach at this level.”
“He’s won everywhere — including as an assistant. He’s very knowledgeable and he’s very well respected,” added another league executive.
“He took his time before looking for a head coaching job. He’ll be able to relate to the players. I’m not sure whether he can be the hard guy, but this is probably what they need right now: A teacher and a more patient guy.”
League sources told the Sun the Senators were trying to finalize the details of MacLean’s contract and may try to put some of his coaching staff in place before making the formal announcement.
For the Senators to get back on track, MacLean needs to get star centre Jason Spezza and defenceman Erik Karlsson to buy into the program.
Spezza, the club’s highest-paid player, played more of a role under Clouston last season, but has been inconsistent. Karlsson took a step back after a tremendous rookie season and needs to be a top performer every night.
The other player MacLean must get producing is veteran defenceman Sergei Gonchar. Signed to a three-year, $16.5-million deal, he had a horrible first year in Ottawa.
“If MacLean can go in there, get Spezza going, get Karlsson going and get Gonchar back to playing the way he’s capable of playing, then they’re going to have a good team and they’ve got a chance,” said the league executive.
“It’s a lot like the Tampa Bay situation that Guy Boucher went into last year. They’ve got some young defencemen coming in (with Jared Cowan, David Rundblad and Patrick Wiercioch). If you can get Spezza playing the way he can, it can turn around quickly. The league is so close: You can miss the playoffs one year and be right back on top the next year. You just don’t know.”
League sources said MacLean has been the frontrunner since the search started in April. It’s believed Binghamton coach Kurt Kleinendorst and former Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish were on the shortlist.
Two league sources weren’t sure where Mississauga Ice Dogs coach Dave Cameron, who was also interviewed for the coaching job, fit in the picture, if at all. The word is MacLean might want to go in a different direction, but is considering Cameron.
A source said MacLean would like to hire Owen Sound Attack coach Mark Reeds, whose club beat Cameron’s Ice Dogs in the OHL final. Reeds and MacLean worked together in Peoria in the IHL.