Yesterday was locker clean out day for the Ottawa Senators which as always, provides some interesting insight into exactly what went wrong this season and what needs to happen to make sure next year, this team is ready to return to the NHL playoffs.
One clear pattern throughout the day was support of Head Coach Paul MacLean. This was great to hear from the players, particularly when some media outlets suggest that MacLean may be on the hot seat at the end of this season. To hear from each player that the Coach still has the ear and the respect of the room is a great sign. It will be interesting to see if Bryan Murray echoes that sentiment during his season ending address.
Paul MacLean also took about 16 minutes of questions from the media and acknowledged that his own performance wasn’t good enough this season. MacLean mentioned that in his third year as Head Coach, he made a conscious decision to change some things and that maybe it didn’t work out as well as he had hoped. In particular, MacLean indicated that he was a little more “demanding” of his players, something we talked about on this site a couple weeks back.
Anyway, it was good to hear MacLean acknowledge his own personal shortcoming and stress that cutting back on stupid penalties and goals against will be a priority from Day 1 next season.
Probably the most “dramatic” interview of the day belonged to the Sens Captain, Jason Spezza. Visibly frustrated throughout, Spezza was awkward at times when addressing questions about his future here in Ottawa. To his credit, he did say “I do” when asked if he wanted to stay in Ottawa next season but really didn’t show much interest when asked (on a couple of occasions) about the possibility of talking contract extension beginning July 1.
You’ll notice this was in direct contrast with the approach taken by both Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, who suggested they were keen on talking contract as soon as possible.
What happens next with Spezza is going to be very interesting. Spezza is going to have to sit down with Bryan Murray and talk about exactly where they should go from here. I suspect that in Bryan Murray’s season ending media availability, he’ll express an interest in keeping Spezza here beyond next season and downplay the trade speculation. He really doesn’t have a choice at this point and needs to make it clear heading into the summer that he doesn’t “have to” trade his Captain. A GM’s job is a lot more difficult when he “has to” do something.
And a final note from locker clean-out day, was a couple comments made by Ales Hemsky. Set to be a UFA at the end of the season, Hemsky made it clear that he enjoyed his time in Ottawa but will be taking a wait and see approach to free agency. It would actually be pretty shocking to see Hemsky sign a deal with Ottawa before at least exploring other offers.
A reminder that Team President Cyril Leeder will speak to the media today at 1:30 PM, followed by General Manager Bryan Murray. Owner Eugene Melnyk is apparently going to answer some Twitter questions from 3:00 PM-4:00 PM this afternoon.
Should be another interesting day.
All of yesterday’s interviews can be found on SensTV