Monday, June 13, 2011

MacLean Looks Like The Guy

"I like the moustache. I think people tend to listen to someone with a moustache more so than someone without. So he has that going for him. When a man with a moustache tells you to do something, you do it."
- random commenter on talking about the imminent hiring of Paul MacLean as head coach.

Lo and behold, it looks like that day is finally here. Bob McKenzie and TSN are all but assuring us that the Senators will announce Red Wings assistant coach (and former Winnipeg Jet player) Paul MacLean as the new chief here in Ottawa sometime tomorrow. Sounds like a done deal, and if you've been following the clues, a fairly easy prediction to make.

This guy comes with the "Detroit Red Wings guarantee", that aura of "winning" which GM Bryan Murray had with him when he came here as well (with a few pit-stops in between). Now, this is not to disparage MacLean or his solid credentials (he would have been my first choice as well), but rumours are NHL organizations are even trying to poach the janitors from Joe Louis Arena. That's how respected the Detroit franchise is nowadays.

And yes, MacLean has the moustache, which as the commenter I quoted above let us know - when a man with a moustache says jump, you jump. Or skate. Or whatever.

But besides the moustache, MacLean comes with an impressive pedigree and many around the NHL have been saying he's been due for a top job for years now. For starters, he's won the Stanley Cup. You could stop right there and he'd already be qualified to coach this struggling Senators team.  And additionally, he's been to the finals twice, once in 2003 with the Ducks under Mike Babcock, and once again in 2009 under Babcock as the Wings failed to defend their title against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

Let's just say this: if MacLean is half the coach Mike Babcock is, it's still a step up from Cory Clouston, who managed to alienate as many players on this team as those that thrived under him. Unfortunately, the guys who went to work for Clouston were mostly third and fourth line players. You can run federal prisons like that quite successfully, but you can't run NHL teams like that anymore. In fact, you never could.

And after seeing the amount of success that Bingo coach Kurt Kleinendorst had with many of the same players (although he had a much deeper team than Clouston did in the AHL), it validates Clouston's removal even more so.

It's even been speculated that Kleinendorst could end up as an assistant under Paul MacLean, although the Senators should let MacLean bring in his guys if he wants to. Every successive coach under GM Bryan Murray had to use Greg Carvel and every one of those coaches got the can tied to them. Not saying it's Carvel's fault, who was known to run some fine special-teams sessions, but you have to let a new coach run with the guys he wants, instead of having leftovers foisted onto his staff, or guys you want to give consolation prizes to. Which brings us right to OHL coach Dave Cameron.

Cameron's name has been thrown out there as well, probably because owner Eugene Melnyk made another of his famous blunders on live television/radio when he said current employee Cameron would be his "pick" before Murray even had a chance to interview everybody. Brutal. But that's the style of Melnyk and most of us hold our nose and get on with our day because someone's got to pay the bills and sit next to Gary Bettman whenever he visits town (about once every ten years). Melnyk even wears an actual suit on occasion, which at this point is considered a plus.

But we are off on a wild tangent here, and there are more important things to discuss. Such as this bit of trivia: Who was the last head coach to have a moustache behind the Senators bench? If you guessed Jacques Martin, you'd be correct. He had a full Mel Bridgman going on for a while when he got hired in 1996, but the moustache was gone by the time the 96-97 season rolled around, coincidentally the first year the team made the playoffs.

At this point, it's dangerous to discuss any more. What if Bob McKenzie at TSN is wrong and MacLean is on his way to Winnipeg right now to throw on a Jets blazer at a press conference? We would all look strange jumping the gun and wasting so many words on a phantom coach. Until I see MacLean shaking hands with Murray and one of the press corps asking the first "How will you motivate Jason Spezza" question, I won't believe it just yet.

More to come when more comes....


Anonymous said...

"This guy comes with the "Detroit Red Wings guarantee", that aura of "winning" which GM Bryan Murray had with him when he came here as well (with a few pit-stops in between)"

What aura of winning does Murray have that you are referring to? He's taken a Cup finalist and turned us into a lottery team. No Cups yet in a long career.

As for Maclean, I'm hoping for the best but much depends on how free he is to be his own man, in my opinion.

We saw with Paddock, and the whole Emery/Gerber drama. I think Emery was Paddock's guy and Gerber was Murray's guy, and that was the root of the problem.

I never got the sense that Hartsburg or Clouston were in complete control of the team. It seemed like they were following orders at times. I could be wrong.

There's a lot of positives about Maclean. For me, the only negative is that he was part of Murray's crew in Anaheim and so I wonder if he's another robot or a guy with a fresh take who can be his own person.

Winning silences all the critics.

Jeremy Milks said...

Anon: Murray has had a few fallow years as Ottawa GM, but there is no doubt he's long been considered a top executive. He's had success as a GM in Detroit, Florida and Anaheim. He's also rebuilt the Senators in short order, to the point where their AHL team is the best in the league.

People pretend he's never done anything in this league, which is simply not true.

Mark Parisi said...

In my experience, those who don't like Murray will cling to their mantra of "He turned a Cup contender into a lottery team" and point out his bad moves while conveniently ignoring the circumstances involving them.

For instance, even though Karlsson is the first Senator player drafted by the organization to attend the All-Star game (and in only his second season!) since Jason Spezza, that can't be counted as a Murray success, because -- get this -- not every player who's been to an All Star game is a Hall of Famer! This, of course, proves that being an All-Star isn't a good indicator of player talent, or something.

Haters gonna hate is how the saying goes, I think.

I don't mean to pretend Murray's record is pristine, because that's obviously not true, but there's no point in debating those who only see his failures.

As for the Maclean signing, I'm a little skeptical. I want to believe, but Murray hasn't earned a lot of trust in this area among Sens fans. I guess the biggest thing he's got going for him is that he's not Dave Cameron.