The move may seem sudden and strange, especially given the fact that the Edmonton Oilers are inhabiting the basement and have thus far stood by their coach. And Ottawa’s firing of MacLean also seems sudden and strange given the fact that won the Jack Adams in 2013 following the posting of a 25-17-6 record.
MacLean leaves the Senators with a 114-90-35 record. He led them to the post-season in two out of the four seasons he found himself behind the bench, putting up an 8-9 record in the playoffs.
The problems started to arrive following that 2013 run, however, and it’s hard to argue that the Senators have been the same hockey team since. They parted ways with Daniel Alfredsson and traded Jason Spezza away. They haven’t committed to some key players and have the lowest payroll in the entire National Hockey League.
Outside of Bobby Ryan, it’s hard to say the Senators have made a real financial obligation to any player.
But regardless of management decisions, it fell to MacLean to make things happen on the ice. And in the eyes of management, that wasn’t working out. Turnovers have been a major issue, according to general manager Bryan Murray, and the statistics certainly don’t paint a pretty picture along those lines. The Senators have mostly occupied the bottom of the league in terms of shots allowed under MacLean.
So the matter before Ottawa now is a change in tempo, something Murray believes Cameron will bring to the table.
“We believed at the start of the year we had a chance to be a playoff team,” said the GM on Monday. “By doing it at this time, I think…that gives Dave a chance to get this team skating more, playing the way he wants them to play, better, a chance to take a run at a playoff spot, for sure.”
But maybe the MacLean firing isn’t all that shocking after all. Indeed, it was just a few days ago that he claimed to be “scared to death of who we’re playing” and added that he was “scared to death of who I’m playing.” The thought is that Murray didn’t take too kindly to the implications and pulled the trigger.
There were also hints of trouble in the locker room.
“I would say there was an uneasiness in our room without a doubt,” said Murray. “Some of the better players felt they were singled out a little too often, maybe. That’s today’s athlete. They want to be corrected, coached, given a chance to play without, I guess, being the centrepoint of discussion in a room.”
For now, it’s time for Cameron, the former assistant, to step up and step in. He’ll have the same “frightening” roster MacLean has had to work with and the same payroll full of “today’s athletes,” so now’s as good a time as any to start the corrective process.