Some interesting comments by (soon to be departing) "Sens insider" Scott MacArthur on the Lee Versage-hosted Team 1200 show this morning about (soon to be departing) coach Cory Clouston.
MacArthur, who is off to Toronto shortly to co-host a show on the new TSN radio network, said that, in his opinion, Clouston doesn't have the capacity to handle different personalities on an NHL team. He has one way, and that way is "his way or the highway".
That kind of attitude sounds great to a lot of fans who already have a deep-seated resentment towards "millionaire athletes", and love nothing more than to see them humbled publicly, but it doesn't actually work in a locker room.
I don't pretend to know what Clouston is like behind closed doors but if a guy like MacArthur, who is as close to the team as anyone else not on the actual payroll, says that Clouston's approach rubbed many players the wrong way, including some guys who "are still on the team" (as opposed to the "bad guys" already gone that Eugene Melnyk bizarrely referred to the other day), then this assessment is probably pretty close to the truth.
Undoubtedly, MacArthur and other journalists close to the team have many off-the-record conversations with players over the course of a season who have had some problems with the way Clouston ran the squad, but those quotes will never see the light of day, as they shouldn't.
Clouston is not the first coach, and he won't be the last, who is unpopular with his players, but you can only get away with it when you get results. If your players don't like you and you don't win, then it's "Good Night, Irene".
Yet, there's been a minor upswell of opinion towards Clouston of late, mirroring his young team's late season rise in the standings.
It makes sense. Clouston has a group of young, hungry players who would go to the wall for any coach they were playing for, whether it was Clouston or Martha Stewart.
It's a tad ironic that Clouston may never have been more right for this team than he is now, just as he is about to get the can tied to him.
The point is, most coaches at a high level can get young players to buy into their system right from the get go. The real tough part is getting veterans, who have enjoyed success in this league without you, to follow your lead and believe in what you are saying.
All NHL teams are run by veterans, whether it's a team like Detroit with a roomful of them, or a team like Ottawa who are basically going with just four guys who have been around the league for a length of time. You think the Edmonton room is run by Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle? Not a chance.
If Clouston can't make believers out of those few veterans, even if he has 18 or 19 kids on his side, then he has no chance. No coach would.
Unfortunately for him, that might be the situation in Ottawa and Clouston looks like he's coached his way out of an NHL job.
It already seems as if it's a foregone conclusion that Dave Cameron is going to be parachuted into the vacant job this summer once his Memorial Cup run with Mississauga is done, but Melnyk isn't saying just yet.
Whoever it is will be faced with the same task as Clouston – getting your leaders to believe in your message. Reactionary fans will be quick to call these veterans "spoiled", and many have already done so in Ottawa, but it's no different on any NHL team.
Like MacArthur said, these players are the best in the world at what they do, and minor-league style regimentation simply doesn't work at this level. Players have to be allowed to smile once in a while.
Some of the most serious minded coaches in NHL history knew that. Scotty Bowman knew that. Even Mike Keenan knew that.
Why doesn't Clouston?