There is a better than average chance Ottawa saw the last of Craig Hartsburg behind the Senators bench after tonight's 2-0 loss at home to New York. Hartsburg was a conservative choice, a coach who had already been fired twice in the NHL. From June 11, 2008, here's a reminder that there was a very successful junior coach who they might have had, Peter DeBoer, who does have the Florida Panthers in the playoff chase.
While the Leafs recycle, Ottawa is apparently looking a bit outside the box (just a bit, the NHL is very much firmly inside the box on most matters) for its next head coach. It’s widely reported that Kitchener Rangers headman Peter DeBoer is the front runner for the position.
Good on the Sens. Who knows if DeBoer will be a good NHL coach (although the evidence seems to suggest that he may well be). The point here is that it’s refreshing to se a team look beyond the same old, same old candidates for its head coaching position.
The NHL is stupidly conservative. Few teams are ever willing to move beyond the fraternity and as a result the game stagnates. Again, this isn’t so much a comment directed at DeBoer, but rather a celebration of something just a bit new.
It’s thought that you want an experienced guy behind the bench in Canada to deal with the unique media pressure. Why? How bloody hard can it be to spout off clichés once a day? In DeBoer’s case it can be argued that he has already faced a pressure cooker situation by coaching in a junior hockey mad market in Kitchener. Sure, there will be more press in Ottawa, but he’ll be less likely to have to deal with the postman giving him advice on how to run the PK in the larger centre (although it must be said that Ottawa’s not that much bigger than K-W).
Dealing with pro athletes will be a new experience, but CHL players aren’t exactly lacking in the ego department — plus they’re teenagers and we all know what a mess that can be.
DeBoer seems to be a good coach. Hopefully the rumours are true and he will get a chance to show that in Ottawa.
(You know the rest of the story. DeBoer went to Florida largely because the Senators maybe didn't like that he was negotiating with other teams. Ottawa went with Hartsburg and while there are a ton of extenuating circumstances for why the Senators are who they are, the rest is history.)