June 14, 2011
'Exciting day' for new Senators coach
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - On Paul MacLean's first day as coach of the Senators, sweat was aleady dripping down his forehead.
“It feels great,” said MacLean with a smile.
How much he sweats and how great it feels will be dictated by what his team does on the ice. And that’s the challenge for the team’s ninth coach.
MacLean, 53, takes over for Cory Clouston, who was set loose after the Senators came up well short of the playoffs. MacLean, who has been an assistant coach in both Detroit and Anaheim, promises to deliver in two areas where the previous coach couldn’t: Communicate with the players and bring an uptempo style of game to Ottawa.
“The NHL is a fast and physical league. It needs to be played that way. The game is played over 200 feet,” said MacLean. “You have to be able to skate the whole rink. We’ll play good defence, but we’re going to come out and attack the net.
“Communication with the players is important in empowering them and having them invest in what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s not me against them. It’s Us — the Ottawa Senators — against the rest of the league.”
That’s why after wrapping up his news conference MacLean planned to talk to Daniel Alfredsson — who was on at Tuesday’s press conference with teammates Chris Neil and Nick Foligno.
MacLean said he’s willing to listen — something Clouston wouldn’t do — but that doesn’t mean the players will get their way.
“They’re an important part of the team. You can’t ask somebody to do something if you don’t give them an opportunity to have some input into it,” said MacLean, who signed a three-year deal to join the Senators.
“That’s not to say they’re always going to be right. In the end, I’m going to be right. The opportunity has to be there for them to express themselves. If I’m going to ask them to invest in some things, I have to give them some solid reasons. I have to talk to them. I have to make sure we’re working together. Not pulling apart.”
Senators GM Bryan Murray said he interviewed seven coaching candidates. MacLean, Binghamton coach Kurt Kleinendorst and former Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish, who will be the Minnesota Wild’s bench boss, were the finalists.
“After a poor season, the need for change was obvious,” said Murray. “I felt Paul fit the profile. He’s been a player, he’s been a head coach, he’s been an NHL assistant. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s been.
“He brings energy, experience, expertise and people skills, most importantly. When you make a change, you want it to be a positive one.”
MacLean said he’s willing to be a teacher to the young players, but doesn’t believe this franchise is going to have to suffer long before getting back to respectability.
“They need direction and leadership,” said MacLean. “Every player in the league wants to succeed. They don’t want to be bad. They don’t want to miss the playoffs. What I’m going to try to bring is some direction and leadership.
“They have a great core of players and a great crop of young players. This team has a chance to get a little bit better every day and we’ll see where we are at the end of the year. The opportunity to turn around (this team) doesn’t have to be a long time.”