It was announced on Friday morning that the Ottawa Senators have released head coach Guy Boucher of his head coaching duties for the Ottawa Senators. The move comes after a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night and mere days after the team traded its three key players at the trade deadline. Needless to say, this move comes during a time of uncertainty for the organization.
Assistant coach Marc Crawford will take over as head coach in the interim and while the team looks for a new bench boss.
Of the release, general manager for the Senators, Pierre Dorion said:
I want to thank Guy for his three years of service. He is a good person and has been an excellent representative of the Senators. At this point, however, we need a different set of coaching and leadership skills to guide our team through this rebuild. In the interim, Marc will bring a different perspective along with a wealth of head coaching experience.
Why the Coaching Change?
Despite the organization and player changes in Ottawa, Dorion recently told Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia that the heading coach job remained safe for Boucher. The franchise had intended to wait until the end of the season, then evaluate Boucher’s future.
The team’s struggles likely changed that stance. Now last in the NHL standings by five points, the rest of this season is going to be a struggle for the Senators. Without the services of Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, and Ryan Dzingel — all of whom were traded at this year’s deadline — the decision must have been the pull the bandaid off as quickly as possible and have all the change to the team come at one time.
Another reason Ottawa may have made this move is that Boucher’s contract was set to expire a few weeks from now. Boucher’s 94-108-26 record with the team was enough to know they weren’t going to extend his contract and while he started out strong with the organization in year one, years two and three were not good, going 50-80-16.
In the end, the move is not surprising. The team has not been good and it was more than likely, whether it was now or later, a coaching change was coming. That it took place now and after a meaningless loss to the Oilers on Thursday suggests perhaps there were some habits or negative energy creeping into the dressing room. Not unexpected, but Dorion might have wanted to nip that in the bud immediately.
What’s Next for Ottawa?
Crawford will take the bench and former Senators player Chris Kelly has been added to the coaching staff. The next decisions for the club seem to be their search for a new coach and in their hunt, they’ll seek someone who has a strong ability to develop and grow young players. Dorion also listed qualities like a good listener who encourages feedback, a strong communicator and a tactician as things the team will look for.
— Murray Pam (@Pammerhockey) March 1, 2019
With his vast experience coaching the Quebec Nordiques, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche (1996 Stanley Cup Champions), Crawford will get a look as a candidate for the job. That said, the team appears to be looking outside the organization.
As far as players go, the organization is now in full-rebuild mode. The team is selling off all their major assets, leaving only some key young pieces they’ll attempt to build around. From there, the Senators will focus on the NHL Draft where they picked up some options in their NHL trade deadline deals and add pieces in trade and free agency while getting up to the salary cap floor for next season.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”