Fired Clouston upbeat about job prospects

The Ottawa Senators fired Cory Clouston on Saturday, but general manager Bryan Murray knew as far back as December things weren’t going to work out.

Fired Clouston upbeat about job prospects
Matt Puempel. (Julie Oliver/OttawaCitizen)


Ex-Ottawa Senators coach Cory Clouston may not have to wait long to find another job.

The outgoing bench boss told reporters Monday that he has already received a couple of phone calls about coaching positions.

Clouston was fired following the Senators’ final game Saturday, done in by a mid-season swan dive that took his team out of playoff contention.

He was in good humour as he headed out the door, opening with a joke about not revealing his starting goaltender in the next game before getting on with the post-mortem.

He said he was obviously disappointed to learn he wouldn’t be back.

“We felt as a (coaching) staff that the team had played very well the last, whatever it was, 27 games, under difficult circumstances,” he said. “I would have loved to have had an opportunity to move forward with this hockey club, so disappointment was probably the biggest emotion.”

While the Senators let Clouston go on Saturday, general manager Bryan Murray knew as far back as December things weren’t going to work out.

In his post-season press conference in Ottawa, Murray said the team’s mid-season drop-off came as a surprise.

“We thought, leaving camp, that we had a competitive hockey team. We felt we could, certainly in the East, be a playoff team. Maybe in hindsight we were being a little optimistic, but I felt we were sort of a five (seed) in the East.

“You had a feeling by December that we were not playing the type of hockey that, again, we thought we were capable of,” he added.

Murray danced around his reasons for firing Clouston, who led the team to the playoffs last season but failed miserably in his second campaign, but dropped a few hints.

“We were falling quickly and, bottom line was, you have to make a judgment,” he said. “We did lots of talking, or tried to do lots of talking, we found that we weren’t going anywhere, so I made the decision.”

Asked if that meant he considered Clouston stubborn, Murray said no before hedging a little.

“I don’t know if stubborn in the right word,” he said. “I think winning is the big thing. I think that’s the bottom line in any position, you want players to feel included, but the bottom line, when you’re a coach, is winning and losing.”

Murray also pointed out that the coach was involved in every signing the team made, apparently taking a swipe at the argument that Clouston was unfairly saddled with high-maintenance, low-performing players like Alex Kovalev.

Murray wouldn’t elaborate when asked if Clouston lost the locker room at any point, saying that players just weren’t performing at the level the team expected.

Jason Spezza’s exit scrum suggested there was plenty of room for improvement in that area, however.

“I think everybody, as players we have our flaws, as coaches there’s flaws and I think that everybody’s always learning all the time,” he said. “I think coaches are learning a lot too, and we’re learning as players, and he’ll get better at the things he lacked in communication and such.”

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