It has been a long last four months for Eugene Melnyk and the Ottawa Senators who have been dragging along the bottom of the NHL standings and for an extended period of time now.
After having traded all three of their key assets at the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline, Melnyk and the team’s front office felt they were not done there with some transactions being discussed internally as the team continues to rebuild for the future.
It all started early on Friday morning when Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet.ca reported that following the team’s 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, a major shakeup could be on the way which would involve a decision from the club on the status of the future of Guy Boucher.
Just a short time later, the team announced that Boucher had been relieved of his duties, meanwhile, adding on that Marc Crawford would be taking over as interim head coach.
Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic Toronto then jumped in with additional details, noting that both Boucher and Crawford’s contracts expire at the conclusion of the regular season respectively.
The firing of Guy Boucher comes following what’s been a difficult season which currently finds the Senators at the very bottom of the NHL’s Atlantic Division with just 49 points. That makes for the league’s lowest as well as wins at just 22.
As noted by Kyle Bukauskas of Sportsnet.ca, Pierre Dorion met with the media on Monday where he said the following about Guy Boucher, “Guy is our coach. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me on this one that I’ve probably made his job pretty difficult the last few weeks, and we’re going to support him.”
TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie would then add fuel to the fire, making mention of the fact that the rationale for Boucher’s firing was more of a two fold for the Senators front office. Not only was the coaching change made as a result of his expiring contract, but Ottawa also did not like the dynamic tendencies the team was showing in recent weeks.
A short time later, Dorion met with the media at the Canadian Tire Centre to address the firing where he said when asked what he said to the players after morning practice on Friday, “I told them that our play recently wasn’t acceptable.” He would then close in saying, “No more excuses.”
As mentioned by Chris Stevenson of The Athletic Ottawa, Dorion said he made his mind up about Boucher last night, slept on it and fired him on Friday morning. This was then re-iterated by Faizal Khamisa of Sportsnet.ca.
In speaking about his decision to let Guy Boucher go in greater length, Dorion said in a statement to the media, “We just felt as recently as probably this morning Guy wasn’t going to be our coach moving forward. For both parties, we just felt it was time to move on. Obviously we made the decision and that’s why we named Marc as interim coach until the end of the year.”
In looking ahead to the rest of the season, Pierre Dorion said to the media that he wants to see a compete level that is unmatched and a team culture that can carry over into next year. He would also note that Marc Crawford will be be a candidate to be the next coach.
Dorion would close his availability in saying that the team added a coach to their team on Friday, welcoming former centreman Chris Kelly to their staff under the management of head coach Marc Crawford.
Before bringing the press conference to wraps, Dorion would say a quick thank you to Boucher, saying, “I want to thank Guy for his three years of service. He is a good person and has been an excellent representative of the Senators. At this point, however, we need a different set of coaching and leadership skills to guide our team through this rebuild. In the interim, Marc will bring a different perspective along with a wealth of head coaching experience.”
As noted by Colin Cudmore of silversevensens.com, Boucher leaves the Ottawa Senators after having made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017, although the team would finish up the 2017-2018 season in 30th place.
Boucher was originally brought on by the Ottawa Senators back in 2017, replacing Dave Cameron as head coach while bringing a more defensive style of play to the organization.
In almost three full seasons with the Senators, Boucher finishes in the nation’s capital with a record of 94-108-26. A concern for the Senators in recent days that played a part in Friday’s decision would be the fact that the team is in the midst of outperforming in a six-game losing streak.
Pierre Dorion spoke with TSN Radio 1200 Ottawa on Monday where he stated that a decision on Boucher’s future wouldn’t be made until the end of the season, however, given the way things are going for the Senators as of late, it only seemed fair to let him go now instead of letting the struggle continue to play out.
In speaking with Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun on Thursday, Pierre Dorion said in a statement with regards to the status of Guy Boucher’s future, “Guy’s job hasn’t been easy in the last few weeks with everything going on and I think he’s handled it well. We’re going to evaluate them at the end of the year.”
In taking a quick look now at interim head coach Marc Crawford, the 58-year-old native of Belleville, Ontario has over 1,000 games of head coaching experience which includes a term with the Quebec Nordiques looking back to 1994. Crawford also happened to have won the NHL’s Jack Adams award that season.
It is worthwhile noting that both Boucher as well as Crawford were brought onto the Senators in the NHL offseason of 2017, Crawford joining the team as an associate coach after Dave Cameron and his staff were dismissed. The hiring of Marc Crawford also happened to be a recommendation of Guy Boucher as the two men previously spent time together coaching the ZCS Lions of the Swiss National League.
It is likely that the Ottawa Senators will take a look at their coaching options this offseason unless the decision is made to move forward to re-instate Crawford as the permanent head coach. At this time, Crawford stands as the club’s eighth head coach in the last twelve years.
Following their 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, the Ottawa Senators return to action on Saturday night at Amalie Arena as they pay a visit to the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:00pmET. The game can be seen on Citytv and TVA Sports, meanwhile, it can be heard on TSN Radio 1200 Ottawa.