MacLean has work to do

Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean will ask his coaching staff and he’ll have a long discussion with general manager Bryan Murray.

MacLean has work to do
Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean got a chance to show off the Jack Adams Award as he visited kids attending hockey camps at the Bell Sensplex in Kanata, Ontario. (Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen)

Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean will ask his coaching staff and he’ll have a long discussion with general manager Bryan Murray.

But the one thing he won’t do in his search for a new captain is canvas the players. Professional hockey is not a democracy and they don’t get a vote.

The new captain to replace Daniel Alfredsson, who had worn the C since the beginning of the 1999-2000 season, will be chosen by the team’s management. That’s generally the way it works in the National Hockey League, though some teams involve the players in the decision more than others.

“No, no, I don’t think we’ll ask the players to vote,” MacLean said Friday, as he showed off the Jack Adams Trophy — given annually to the top coach in the National Hockey League — to a group of young hockey players at the Bell Sensplex.

“We’re going to talk to a number of players that are in consideration, and to a number of people, and talk to the fans, and even to the kids here today to get their input on who it should be.

“And when you do that, there are a number of different players that people believe are qualified to be the next captain of the Senators, and I believe the same thing.

“So the process that Bryan and I and my coaching staff will have to go through is sifting through (the candidates) to find who is going to be the best guy.”

Whoever it is — and Chris Phillips and Jason Spezza appear to be the front-runners — he’ll be the one with the right stuff, the player whose work ethic is above reproach and who leads by example.

“(It’ll be) someone who does it right every day and is a good representative of the team,” said MacLean. “But the most important thing is that you’ve got to be here every day and you’ve got to do it right.”

MacLean did not set a deadline to name a captain. He’s is not going to constrain the search with an artificial deadline, but teams usually announce their leaders before the season opener.

“I’ve got to spend some time talking to the individuals, talking to Bryan Murray, talking to my coaching staff,” said MacLean.

“We done a lot of preliminary talking. It’s going to be a process but I don’t think it’s going to be a difficult one, and we just have to take the time to get through it.

“I’m not going to put a timeline on it. When we make the decision, that’s the day it will be.”

MacLean was speaking as he displayed the Jack Adams Trophy to summer camps at the Sensplex.

Because the NHL didn’t have an awards gala in Las Vegas last year and simply announced the major trophy winners, MacLean hadn’t had a chance to pose with the trophy.

So he had that chance Friday, with hundreds of youngsters in their last day of camp.

MacLean said that, like many people, he was disappointed Alfredsson left to join the Detroit Red Wings, but he added the former captain had earned the right to make the decision that he thought was best for him.

Now it’s time to move on, said MacLean.

“We’re going to progress without him and start down a new path, and I think it’s a great opportunity for a number of our players to step into that leadership void and show that they can be a bigger part of the team than maybe they’ve been in the past,” he said.

Heading into the main training camp, it would appear there are only a few openings on the team, maybe one up front and maybe one on defence.

It would also seem that players with one-way contracts have an advantage, since it would be expensive to have them toil in the minors on an NHL salary.

But MacLean said his philosophy is that the best players play.

“We’re going to play eight exhibition games and we’re going to sort out who the best players are — or, they’re going to sort it out, actually,” he said.

“The best 23 guys are going to stay here and play, and if you’re not one of those 23 guys, then we’ll have to make arrangements for them to play wherever that has to be, no matter what the circumstances are.

“The best players are going to be here to play.”

While MacLean has lost Alfredsson and Jakob Silfverberg, he has gained Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur. That may look to make the Senators a better team on paper, but MacLean said talent means nothing without hard work.

“You can write a lot of things on paper, but it’s all done on the ice,” he said. “We’ve made some changes in our group and we have an opportunity to be better. But if we don’t come to the rink every day and work as hard as we’ve done, or even harder than we’ve done in the past, we’re going to get left behind.

“That’s what excites us about this season, but that’s also what scares us, too.”

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