Hartsburg named Senators' 6th coach

Craig Hartsburg, who guided Canada to back-to-back titles at the world junior hockey championship, was named head coach of Ottawa Senators on Friday.

Former NHLer coached Canadian juniors to back-to-back world titles

Craig Hartsburg, who guided Canada to world junior hockey titles in 2007 and this year, was named head coach of the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

The 48-year-old Stratford, Ont., native takes over from Senators general manager Bryan Murray, who finished the season behind the NHL team's bench after John Paddock was fired in late February.

"I know it's a great challenge and I can't wait," Hartsburg, who signed a three-year contract, said at a news conference. "I love challenges."

Hartsburg, who has 13 years of NHL coaching experience, spent the last four seasons as head coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, compiling a 141-91-8-3 regular-season record.

The sixth coach in Senators history, Hartsburg takes over a club that won 15 of its first 17 games this season and held a commanding lead atop the Eastern Conference standings in January before fading down the stretch.

Ottawa won just 18 of its final 48 games — coping with a rash of injuries and a goalie controversy that disrupted the team's chemistry — to finish seventh in the East before suffering a four-game sweep at the hands of Pittsburgh in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"To me, it's not about being fixed, it's about a program and getting the players to buy into it," Hartsburg said. "A scorer's not just a scorer, he needs to do more. A checker's more than just a checker, he needs to do more."

Much talk about the Senators' late-season collapse centred on a lack of discipline and low morale, and the inability of Paddock to improve either.

During his five years with the Greyhounds, Hartsburg drew praise for his emphasis on discipline and for demanding a strong work ethic from his players.

Hartsburg said his top priority with the Senators will be accountability.

"Accountability to me is just about making sure things are done right and if they're not done right, there has to be a message sent," he said.

Kudos include OHL top-coach honour

This will mark the former Minnesota North Stars defenceman's fourth stint behind an NHL bench.

Hartsburg was head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks from 1995-98, and the then Anaheim Mighty Ducks from 1998-2000.

He also had two stints as an assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers and spent one year as an assistant with the North Stars, with whom he played his 10-year NHL career after being drafted sixth overall in 1979.

Hartsburg scored 98 goals and 413 points in 570 NHL regular-season games while adding 42 points in 61 playoff contests.

Before his second stint with Philadelphia, Hartsburg spent a season coaching the Guelph (Ont.) Storm and is a two-time OHL coach of the year.

Former NHL head coach Bob Hartley and Peter DeBoer, who has spent the past seven seasons in the OHL as the Kitchener Rangers bench boss, were the other coaching candidates for the Senators job.

Murray said Hartsburg's success at the world juniors was a big selling point.

"It appeared to me that one guy thrived on the scrutiny, thrived on the pressure and wanted to be in Ottawa," Murray said. "He wanted this job badly and he sent a message to me that at the end of the day, that's the kind of person we wanted."

The Los Angeles Kings are said to be interested in DeBoer, who led Kitchener to the league title this season and has posted a 539-248 won-lost mark in his 13 seasons behind an OHL bench.

On Tuesday, the Kings fired coach Marc Crawford after two losing seasons.

Hartley was let go by the Atlanta Thrashers last Oct. 17 after they dropped their first six games of the season. He coached the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup championship in 2001.

With files from the Canadian Press