Probably About Time
Craig Hartsburg inherited a mess not of his making and couldn't fix it in 48 games. Given that he's an experienced coach at all levels and a former standout NHLer, that tells you something about how bad things are in the nation's capital with the Ottawa Senators.
You'll recall I said in the fall I believed the Sens would miss post-season play. But I thought it would be a near miss, not the disaster that has unfolded.
Interestingly, in replacing Hartsburg with minor league coach Cory Clouston, the Senators are just the latest NHL club to pass on a group of highly-experienced veteran coaches with championships on their resumes, a list that includes Pat Quinn, Bob Hartley, Marc Crawford, John Tortorella and Peter Laviolette.
Tampa chose to elevate Rick Tocchet when Barry Melrose was dumped. Carolina, after firing Laviolette, turned back to Paul Maurice. Chicago made the earliest move, replacing Denis Savard with Joel Quenneville.
Now Ottawa has replaced Hartsburg with Clouston, leaving Eugene Melnyk with two men - John Paddock and Hartsburg - on his payroll being paid not to coach.
Maybe that's why Clouston, and not Quinn or Crawford or Hartley or Tortorella, got the job. Melnyk didn't want to pay yet another coaching salary when Clouston was already in the organization down in Binghampton.
With 38 games left, you have to believe this is Clouston's opportunity to make some judgements about the team that he can move forward with. In other words, the idea has to be that he'll be the coach next season, and that this is a start on making next fall a lot more promising than the past 12 months have been.
Melnyk, meanwhile, looks a little silly today after his bombastic pronouncements of last year in which he suggested those who believed his team needed to be "blown up" should "blow themselves up." He was defiant and supportive of those who he had put in place, and to now turn around in a matter of days and, for the second straight year, fire a coach with less than one season on the job, makes it appear as though the problems with the Ottawa franchise might begin with the toast of the town, the man who got an ovation every time he appeared at the recent world junior championships, and that would be Melnyk himself.