After minimal news from the Ottawa Senators since their season ended, a piece of news was released today to the public. Head coach Guy Boucher and his entire staff will return next year. When the Senators season came to an end a few weeks back, there were still many questions left unsolved. One of them was if the coaching staff would return. 24 days since the Sens season ended, that question was finally answered. The news was announced by general manager Pierre Dorion on TSN 1200.
Guy Boucher, entire staff returning for 2018-19 season
The Ottawa Senators season was a disaster from top to bottom. Whether it was their defensive structure, not scoring goals or even not practicing enough, the entire team from coaches to players had to take criticism for their lack of success. The Senators got off to a very respectable start, but the train derailed once November and December rolled their way. General Manager Pierre Dorion tried to revamp the team by acquiring Matt Duchene, but even that did not help the Senators. Once the trade deadline came, the Senators were in sell mode and got some young pieces and assets.
When you talk about bringing back the entire coaching staff, there are two main tunnels you can analyze this move.
Everyone is Accountable for a Poor Season
Dorion is clearly stating the players have to also be better. When teams have terrible years after great ones, GM’s like to push the panic button and dismiss the club’s head coach. This was not the approach Pierre Dorion took. Although he is definitely upset by how staff managed themselves, he knows the players have to be accounted for also. By taking this approach, Dorion is showing that both sides have to be better. He is in no favour of favouring one story to another, and he will expect both parties to improve next season.
Some fans may not agree with this approach and that Dorion explored it. Near the end of the season, the likes of Matt Duchene, Mike Hoffman and others began to excel. While Boucher’s structure and defensive flaws continued to reflect upon his team. Dorion might also be taking into consideration that the players might didn’t buy in this season like last.
Although, that would be puzzling and worth questioning. The thought of the players not buying into Boucher’s system doesn’t make much sense. They were all in last year, and the numbers showed it. What changed the course this year? If anything it should’ve been easier. Coming in as a new coach, it was obvious that patience was key at the beginning of the season in 2016-17. But in 2017-18, even Boucher said the process was much simpler. What was said in meetings is something we, as fans, will never know, but Pierre Dorion clearly listened to both sides of the story before making a decision.
Offering a second chance with more on the line
The second main reason Dorion might’ve kept Boucher is to simply give him a second chance. After all, the success Boucher brought to the Sens game last year, would it be wrong to turn on him immediately? Dorion might think so. We’ve all heard the phrase “Hockey is a business”, but Dorion is not looking to give up on Guy Boucher just yet. The general manager knows that even after a catastrophic season, it would be unfair to not recognize Boucher’s past success.
All of this said, Dorion has mentioned that he has requirements he’d like to see Boucher follow next season. Him keeping Boucher around means there will be more on the line for the bench boss next year. In the team’s year-end press conference, the GM said that Boucher needs to make changes next year. Dorion had plenty to say regarding Boucher and the players, ” ‘Rest is a weapon’ — if I hear that one more time I’ll go crazy ” Dorion said. Also mentioning that he’d like to see more younger players implemented in the team’s lineup. The Sens GM also said that players blamed themselves in exit meetings, but he thinks the problem is beyond just the players – once again showing that Dorion knows there are two sides to this story.
What happens going into next season for Guy Boucher
Depending on how the offseason goes, Boucher has high expectations next year from Dorion. The first step is re-signing captain Erik Karlsson. Whatever happens with that situation will go towards how Boucher is perceived next year. The Senators will look to improve on all aspects of their game. After a strong defensive effort in 2016-17, the 2017-18 season was the polar opposite of that.
The staff might be returning next year, but roles are changing within them, Pierre Dorion announced. Guy Boucher is expected to handle special teams. Assistant coach Rob Cookson will now be behind the bench. Cookson was what the Senators called “an eye in the sky ” for his two years so far in Ottawa. He was slotted upstairs watching the game. Martin Raymond will now take Cookson’s spot, being the new hawk watching over. Marc Crawford will handle 5v5 play. From these new roles, it sounds like Marc Crawford might as well be the Senators head coach. Assistants are usually the ones taking care of special teams, in this case it’ll be head coach Guy Boucher.
Guy Boucher and his entire staff have a short leash next year to say the least. If the team manages to re-sign Erik Karlsson on the last year of his current deal, Boucher has no room for error. He’s shown that he can be an effective coach. With the likes of Mark Stone coming back, it’ll help him have Stone’s offensive prowess throughout the entire year. There is no excuses for Boucher next season.
In other staff news regarding the Ottawa Senators, the team also announced today that Kurt Kleinendorst will not return next year. Kleinendorst was the Belleville Senators head coach this past season. A search for a new coach will begin in the near future.
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