Senators: A Brief Look at Ottawa’s Coaching Candidates

When the Ottawa Senators canned Guy Boucher Friday, they put out a press release to detail exactly what they had in mind from a new bench boss. It was a list of characteristics, but it read like a final smack in the face to Boucher on his way out the door.

The Senators are looking for, in short:

  • A teacher
  • A listener
  • A communicator
  • A tactician

There is more, of course, and the official press release reads like a job advertisement.

One wonders what this kind of information is doing on a press release that announces the firing of a head coach, but this is Ottawa and there are no rules anymore. Anything goes, like an Internet comment section, and all bets are off as to when some semblance of stability or reason will find their way to the Senators organization.

In the meantime, it’s Marc Crawford’s mess and he’s responsible for guiding this malfunctioning train into the station at season’s end.

But questions persist and the Senators need a long-term answer to their coaching woes, which means finding a bench boss capable of ticking off the boxes on their job application/press release.

There are options.

Alain Vigneault is one. He’s jobless after he was bounced from the Rangers at the close of last season. He’s got a year to go on his New York contract, but the Blueshirts would be willing to pay some of that to get his deal off the register. He’s got playoff experience, something Ottawa doesn’t really need right now, but he does seem to fit some of the conditions.

Troy Mann is another entrant. The coach of the Belleville Senators is due a big league gig and could get his first kick at the can with Ottawa. He won a Calder Trophy with the Hershey Bears and has experience developing young players. Also, the Senators could do it on the cheap. He has no NHL experience, so everything would be a fresh start and that could mean signing him to that Jeff Blashill money.

Brad Shaw is another possibility. As one of the most valued assistants in the NHL, the Cambridge native has plenty of experience. He’s currently the assistant for the Blue Jackets, replacing the retired Craig Hartsburg, and was assistant coach of the St. Louis Blues from 2006 to 2016. When the Senators went with Boucher, Shaw was one of the other candidates they interviewed for the job first.

And there is, of course, Crawford. If he manages to impress during the final leg of the season, he could have his chance at landing the post on a more permanent basis. There are many things working in his favour. He knows the team, for one. But he’s also quite a bit removed from his last head coaching job in the NHL and there’s no real sense he’s factoring into Ottawa’s long-term plans.

Other names are out there, some of them more fantastical than others. Joel Quenneville is without a job, but it’s hard to imagine him having an interest in such a challenge. Dallas Eakins is out there, but the Ducks have special interest in him and will perhaps sign him before the Senators have a shot. And, if you want to get imaginative, you can throw Todd McLellan in the mix because it’s fun.

(Photo credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

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