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.

Bruins’ second line officially goes under the microscope

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While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.

Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronLoui Eriksson
Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
Jimmy HayesRyan SpoonerBrett Connolly
Chris KellyJoonas KemppainenZac Rinaldo

The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.

So, where is Krejci’s game now?

Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.

So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?

On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.

So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?

“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks