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Senators bringing back Guy Boucher with changes in mind

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The Ottawa Senators’ plan is for next season is all about change. But there will not be any change for the man in charge behind the bench as general manager Pierre Dorion said on Tuesday during an interview with TSN 1200 that Guy Boucher — and his full staff — will return.

Dorion and Boucher met on Monday and the result of their chat means the head coach will work the final year of his deal. The decision makes sense since it wouldn’t be like owner Eugene Melnyk to allow a coach to get paid for a year and not be working for him.

“They came up with a game plan and we’re really happy with the direction the staff wants to go,” Dorion said.

The Senators finished with 31 fewer points this past season than 2016-17 when they made it to within a goal of reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Things fell apart quickly, and a three-way deal that sent Kyle Turris to Nashville and Matt Duchene to Ottawa didn’t improved things. Once the season started to slip away, rumors surrounding Erik Karlsson’s future with the franchise bubbled over, but the captain stayed with the team through the trade deadline. This summer, however, could be a different story.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Back to the changes. During their meeting, the GM wanted a gameplan moving forward from Boucher, who will also take over duties running a bottom-five power play. What Dorion heard pleased him, and so the staff stays in place, but not before Dorion passed on a few specific things he’d like to see.

First, Dorion wants the head coach to play the kids more with Colin White, Logan Brown, and Thomas Chabot, among others, seeing the ice more right at the start of the season, rather than after playoff hopes have evaporated. The future is now for the Senators, so rather than treading water with highly-priced veterans, they need to develop those players at the NHL level and determine if they can cut it.

The other change Dorion wants is more practice time, something he mentioned at his end-of-season press conference.“Rest is a weapon. If I hear that one more time I’ll go crazy,” Dorion said in April. He’s going to get that wish after it making it very clear in his chat with Boucher.

“Our intentions, and they were discussed with the coaching staff right after the year, is that we’re a skating team,” he said. “We need to practice. I think speed was Guy’s mantra when he came on board, and I think we derived a bit from it last year and we need to skate hard in practice to play as hard and as fast as much as possible, and they understood that.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Report: Hynes may be front-runner for Devils job (while Boucher’s out)

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The New Jersey Devils’ pursuit of a new head coach continues, and while they may once again come out and refute the latest reports, it sounds like we can cross off some names and promote another.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that John Hynes (coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) may be the current front-runner. Meanwhile, McKenzie notes that one can probably cross former Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher (pictured) off the list of possible candidates, as it appears that he’ll continue to coach in Switzerland.

That last bit of news may be a bummer to some, as many found some entertainment in hypothesizing about the source of Boucher’s Bond villain-style scar. The guy also tended to make some humorously dramatic facial expressions, as you can see from this post’s main image.

(You could also make a joke about upping the use of the 1-3-1 trap in New Jersey, if you’re into especially nerdy hockey humor.)

Hynes certainly makes sense from a familiarity standpoint, as new Devils GM Ray Shero is quite familiar with him. Beyond that, he’s enjoyed quite a bit of success in the AHL and seemed to have a good chance to nab the Penguins’ gig last summer, at least according to betting odds.

By no means is this official, but McKenzie does discuss what would happen next if the Devils do make the decision:

Report: Phil Housley the lead candidate for Devils’ coaching vacancy

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Phil Housley could be the next head coach of the New Jersey Devils.

According to Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger, Housley, who is currently an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators, has emerged as the front-runner for the coaching vacancy in New Jersey.

Chere reports GM Ray Shero has also interviewed former Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher, Washington Capitals assistant coach Todd Reirden and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes.

The Devils reportedly interviewed Dan Bylsma before he took the Buffalo Sabres job.

During his playing days Housley spent part of the 1995-96 season with the Devils.

The 51-year-old’s coaching experience includes a gold medal while behind the bench of Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship.

Lecavalier likes Flyers system ‘better than staying on your heels’

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Vincent Lecavalier finally spoke with Philadelphia media and may have gotten a dig in at his former coach, Guy Boucher, while doing so.

While the Flyers finally announced Lecavalier’s deal, he was asked his thoughts about the Flyers’ up-tempo system under Peter Laviolette and if he liked that. It turns out he’s a big fan.

“I like that better than staying on your heels” Lecavalier said. “I think when you’re on your heels a lot more, you’re not in the game as much. You’re not as sharp and as quick. I think if you’re on your toes like the Flyers play, I think it makes you a better hockey player.”

When Boucher was let go in Tampa, it was believed there was tension there between himself and some of the veteran players and his defensive system may have been part of that.

If you’ll recall, it was against the Flyers when Boucher’s 1-3-1 forecheck system was challenged via stalling as the Flyers sat back in their own zone waiting to be pursued.

Perhaps all that staying back on their heels was why Tampa’s defense was so poor the last couple seasons and not the motley crew of blue liners that took part in it. Oh, right.

Colorado housecleaning continues, VP Lacroix leaves organization

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Joe Sacco’s firing in Colorado was apparently the first step to be taken towards improving the Avalanche organization.

Adrian Dater of The Denver Post reports the team’s vice president of hockey operations, Eric Lacroix, has left the team following Sacco’s firing. Team president Pierre Lacroix, Eric’s father, and GM Greg Sherman are still employed.

After seeing the team fall to second-to-last in the NHL for the second time in three years, changes were due to occur. Sacco being fired is the least surprising move to be made, but it’s clear now there may be more moves on the way. Those working in the Avs front office might not want to answer the phone for a few days.

Rumors over who might land Sacco’s job range from Lindy Ruff to Guy Boucher to Patrick Roy. That’s quite the smorgasbord of names to choose from.