Maybe ex-Senators coach Paul MacLean was only joking when he said he was “scared to death no matter who we’re playing. … And sometimes I’m scared to death of who I’m playing.”
But it was clear Monday, after MacLean had been fired, that his ex-boss, Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, didn’t think it had been very funny.
“The fact that he makes statements that ‘I’m afraid who I put on the ice’ type of thing, that kind of sent a loud message to me, whether it was in jest or otherwise, that maybe he didn’t believe in the group the way we thought we believed in the group when we started the year,” Murray said.
Today, it was MacLean’s turn to fire back.
“I thought we lost four games in a row,” he said. “I didn’t think we lost our sense of humor.”
Which was a pretty good zinger.
At the same time, you could probably find a Senators player, or maybe two or three, who’d say that, actually, we had lost our sense of humor. That it wasn’t fun to play hockey in Ottawa anymore. And the coach — who used to be a fun guy (a.k.a. “old Paul”), but wasn’t anymore — was the big reason why.
MacLean, for the record, denied he’d changed:
He also said he had no regrets, about the way he treated his players or anything else.
Still, it was telling that, per the Ottawa Sun, his replacement, Dave Cameron, had this to say today:
“I recognize how hard it is to the be an NHL player and the work they’ve put in. I want them to know I respect that so when it comes to a point that I’m pushing on a player I never want him to think that I’m pushing because I don’t think he’s a good player. The fact he’s in the NHL means he’s a good player. I want him to know that when we give information it’s not to make him feel like he’s a bad player.”
Does that sound like something a new coach would have to say if the players felt respected by the old coach?