Howdy from Ottawa.
Hindsight is 20/20. It is real easy to critize an athlete or management after the fact. But quotes are that one little caveet that helps us draw the line from past to present. Here is one from Senators owner Eugene Melnyk.
"There's no question he'll be back next year. Bryan's done a great job," Melnyk said. "The way you judge a good GM is the way he recognizes a problem and acts on it....I'll give him a mulligan. He recognized a change was required. Think about it. He signed up Cory and look where we are today."
That was 'today' in April and Cory Clouston just signed a two-year deal. It's now June and today Sens GM Bryan Murray is taking offers for star forward Dany Heatley. We'll just give him a mulligan.
Look folks, I am not one who supports the needs of star players whom feel the need to have a say in hirings and firings. However this case is different as former Ottawa coaches John Paddock and Craig Hartsburg were victims of poor play and star players disliking them. The Senators just didn't get branded 'coach killers'...they earned it. So with it being the case that the inmates have in the past made their case why said coaches should be given pink slips, then why all of a sudden is another 'unpopular' coach ushered in through the door?
Through no fault of Cory Clouston, it seems quite likely he is the reason Heatley wants out of Ottawa. Clouston is what he is and Murray bought it for 2 years. Heatley and Clouston had a known rift (and who knows what else) in February, to which both sides down played. Clouston said at the time Dany had 'a ways to go' in adapting to his style of read and react hockey, which is a far cry from wing-lock coverages and trapping styles Hartsburg had just instituted months earlier. But Cory always contended that him and Heater saw 'eye to eye'. For Heatley's part he said of the rift "We're obviously on the same page". Yeah right. Weeks later Heater had his ice time cut and was demoted to the 2nd PP unit.
Heatley has always said he enjoyed playing in hockey-mad Ottawa as it helped raise his game. He has however disliked the media attention, unless of course it was positive. And he rarely got anything positive after last season's diaster...$10 mil. for 39 goals doesn't cut it. Factor in a lack of effort mentioned by two coaches and a general manager plus sports writers who watch him nightly and Dany would have been feeling the pressure. Hence why he wants out west. He wants the Joe Thornton treatment...make the big bucks, yet still live in anonmity because he can't handle the pressure.
So is it Heatley vs Clouston or Heatley vs Self? Is this whole Clouston-thing a front for something else? I believe so. To be blunt, Dany Heatley is running away again. Like he ran from Atlanta when things got rough, like he is running now off a horrible season. Is he best friends with Clouston? No. But is the coach the real reason Dany see's fit to tell the team that just gave him a long-term deal to now trade him? No.
GM Bryan Murray deserves some of the blame for this mess, and how he handles it now should make or break his tenure as the Sens GM. You can't let the players decide when to fire the coach but not let them decide who to hire. It's either all or nothing. To me it looks like Bryan has ticked off both Heatley and Spezza and while I'm sure Sens Country will say the hell to both of them, the hard reality is then who will want to play here? Remember the days when this organization was a model for others? Hindsight is 20/20.