Cory Clouston

Cory Clouston becomes latest Senators scapegoat as Bryan Murray fires another coach

The 2010-11 season was a fairly disastrous one for the Ottawa Senators. To the surprise of many, the team decided to (more or less) reward general manager Bryan Murray with a three-year contract extension yesterday. Yet to the surprise of few, it didn’t take long for the team to give embattled head coach Cory Clouston the boot, as TSN reports that the Senators fired Clouston as well as two assistant head coaches: Greg Carvel and Brad Lauer.

Assistant Luke Richardson and goalie coach Rick Wamsley will keep their jobs, though. (One must wonder if Wamsley gets along well with new goalie of the future Craig Anderson, thus keeping his job safe.)

While it would be tough to argue that Clouston was beyond reproach in the Senators’ sometimes-ugly 32-40-10 season, it seems a bit unfair to me. To paraphrase an old Bill Parcells quote, it’s pretty tough to blame the cook (Clouston) when the person buying the groceries (Murray) failed to buy the right ingredients.

After all, if Murray was such a visionary at the GM position, then why is he averaging a coach per year in his days as a general manager? His coaches include himself, Clouston, Craig Hartsburg and John Paddock.

In the mean time, the Senators keep rotating between awful and mediocre outputs, with Murray being one of the few constants. Clouston managed to help Ottawa grind its way to a first round appearance last season before the Pittsburgh Penguins dismantled his overmatched team. This season didn’t even go that well, however, although it’s tough to blame Clouston alone when the team kept getting hit with injuries and the stark reality that they simply didn’t amass enough talent.

Then again, you know what they say: you cannot fire the team, so fire the coach. There are certain GMs in the NHL who seem to have an endless amount of rope — likely because they found a way to charm a loyal and/or oblivious owner — and it seems like Murray might be one of them.

Either way, TSN points out that Clouston’s contract was set to expire on July 31, so it is reasonable to say that he didn’t do enough to show he was undeniably worthy of an extension. The frustrating part, though, is that Murray didn’t deserve one either.

Fair or not, it’s clear that Murray will get an opportunity to rebuild the Senators. He began such a task in earnest by dealing Mike Fisher and making other moves to stockpile draft picks. One can only speculate that he had an idea his job was secure while doing so, but again, that’s just speculation.

Nine times out of 10, a general manager will be able to keep his job while placing the blame on his coach’s shoulders. (In the event that one goes and one stays, that is.) Still, one must wonder how many times Murray will be able to hire and fire a coach before he ends up being the one on the chopping block.

Flyers staff give Gudas a talking to as questionable hits pile up

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1The list of questionable Radko Gudas hits — some of which he’s been suspended for and others he has escaped discipline — has grown again, prompting Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to apparently have a chat with the 25-year-old defenseman.

There was no hearing for Gudas from his latest infraction, a major penalty for charging called against him for a hit on Buffalo Sabres rookie Daniel Catenacci on Thursday.

Catenacci has since been put on injured reserve, after he went through concussion protocol, as per John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

The NHL didn’t hand out supplemental discipline in this case, but the Flyers brass held a meeting of their own with Gudas, because hits like this could end costing Philadelphia results and precious points in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Flyers are four points out of a playoff spot.

“There’s a big picture to all of it in terms of our main concern,” Hakstol told CSN Philadelphia. “Our main goal right now is to do all the little things necessary to win hockey games.

“In keeping with that, how individually does everybody do their part to help us win games. That’s the basis of my conversation with Radko.”

In December, Gudas was suspended three games for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad. Earlier this month, he was given a major penalty and game misconduct for clipping in a game against the Habs, but escaped discipline for that, as well.

Gudas, who didn’t want to comment on the hit on Catenacci, also spoke with Flyers GM Ron Hextall about this latest incident.

Asked about that conversation, Gudas told reporters, “Just making sure I pay attention and not get suspended again and make a good hockey play or make a good hit.”

After 11-game absence, Savard (oblique) back for Columbus

David Savard
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These are pretty decent times for the Blue Jackets.

The team is 7-3-2 in its last 12, recently re-upped with Ryan Murray on a two-year deal and, on Friday, announced that blueliner David Savard has been activated from IR after missing the last 11 games to an oblique strain.

Savard, 25, was a pretty integral part of John Tortorella’s defense when healthy. He averaged over 24 minutes per night and had 15 points through 39 games prior to being sidelined by the ailment.

He’ll presumably draw back into the lineup when the Jackets take on Ottawa on Saturday. No word yet on a corresponding roster move.

Who’s got the best/worst combined special teams?

The Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, (8), of Russia, leaps in the air in celebration after scoring his 500th career NHL goal during the second period of a hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Recently, the Washington Capitals went five whole games without scoring a power-play goal.

It was a real nightmare for those guys.

Despite the fact Washington went 3-1-1 over those five games, one headline called it a “troubling power-play drought” — which tells you how few “troubling” things the Caps have had to deal with this season.

Overall, special teams have been a boon for Washington, which ranks first on the power play and fifth on the penalty kill.

Compare that to, say, Calgary, which ranks 29th and 29th, respectively. Now that’s troubling.

Anyway, here’s how all 30 teams rank when their special teams are combined:

Rankings

Not surprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between good special teams and winning hockey games.

In the left column, 12 of the 15 teams are currently in a playoff spot. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Montreal are the exceptions.

On the right, only four teams — Colorado, Detroit, Nashville and the Rangers — are in a playoff spot.

John Scott to return to Habs’ AHL team this weekend

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John Scott’s had enough time off following his All-Star Game MVP award.

Now, he wants to get back to work.

Scott, who made major headlines at the end of January thanks to his unforgettable All-Star performance in Nashville, will return to Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s this weekend, as the IceCaps play a pair of games against the Toronto Marlies.

“It’ll be nice to [be] back playing hockey and doing my thing. I’m actually really excited for it,” Scott said, per ESPN. “This has been the longest break I’ve had, ever. But I play like 7-8 minutes, I won’t be too out of shape, I’ll be able to keep up.”

Scott, 33, hasn’t played since his Pacific Division team won the annual ASG 3-on-3 tournament on Jan. 31. Following that whirlwind weekend, the Montreal organization allowed him to take a leave to be with his wife, Danielle, who gave birth to twin girls on Feb. 5.

Scott only appeared in four games for St. John’s prior to the All-Star Game, going pointless with six penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.

Related:

The John Scott story, coming to a theater near you?

Therrien on Habs recalling Scott: ‘You never know’