By Savannah Malnar
When a sports team starts to slip in the standings, the blame can be placed on multiple people. In hockey that blame frequently is directed at the coach. With that in mind, in was announced on Monday that the Ottawa Senators had fired coach Paul MacLean who led the team to an 11-11-5 start this season.
This was a shock to a lot of Senators fans and media. The Senators are placed 7th in the Atlantic division and 10th in the entire Eastern Conference, but had just come off of a huge overtime win at home against the Vancouver Canucks. MacLean recently won the Jack Adams Trophy, which goes the NHL coach of the year, in the shortened 2012-2013 season and was awarded with a contract extension in the offseason. In roughly four seasons, the Senators are 114-90-35 under MacLean and made the playoffs in his first two seasons as coach. Despite this, reports stated that his locker room attitude had changed and he was more demanding than ever.
Just days before his firing, MacLean was quoted saying that he was “scared” of any team the Senators had to face. He did not elaborate on it anymore, but the media took it as a lack of trust in his players.
MacLean’s termination garnered a lot of attention in the hockey media as it was the first coaching change in the NHL this season. Larger media entities remained objective in their reporting, but each still drew attention to his recent Jack Adams award. One local media outlet, CBC News Ottawa, took a different approach and instead just presented multiple screenshots of the media and fan reaction to MacLean being fired.
The result? A lot more blame placing, but not on MacLean; instead, many fans showed support for the coach and instead said the problem was a cheap owner (the Senators currently have the lowest payroll in the entire league) and an underperforming team. One tweet in particular said, “Good coaches lose their jobs when their team doesn’t perform.. Which is exactly what happened with Paul MacLean in Ottawa.”
This personnel move by the Senators is questionable, especially this early in the season. But with the rumors of his change in attitude and a lot of critique of his poor defensive strategies, the Senators ownership must feel they need a new person in charge in order to get back into the postseason. That new person will be MacLean’s assistant Dave Cameron, who has now been promoted to head coach.