Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison delivers his insights into the world of hockey, on and off the ice.
Sens' problems deeper than Paddock
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | 05:54 PM ET
By Scott Morrison
As the story goes, the belief of the general manager was that the team had taken on the low-key personality of the coach.
The challenge was to change that, to a light a fire and to win again.
An uninspired 5-0 loss to the Maple Leafs, followed a night later by a 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins would suggest the pilot light was still out.
And with the trade deadline passed, with no help in sight, John Paddock paid for it with his job Wednesday, dismissed as coach of the Ottawa Senators along with assistant Ron Low with 18 games to go, their team second in the conference but fading fast.
Indeed, after a 15-2 start to the season the Senators have ridden a roller coaster since, good for stretches, god awful for others and too much of the latter of late. The listless Senators had lost six of eight and 14 of 21.
But is that the fault of the coach? As they say, who else can you fire?
It says here the problems with the Sens may run deeper, though the jury is out until the new old coach has a few games under his belt.
Remember, though, for the first quarter of last season Bryan Murray, who was coach then, executioner on Wednesday and coach again, couldn't get the Senators inspired, either. But they persevered and eventually the message sunk in that they had to be as good in their end as the offensive zone.
Eventually a work ethic was fostered and the results followed, including a trip to the finals. It didn't hurt that the goaltending became a darn sight better, either.
But this season it has unfolded in reverse for the Senators, who came up empty at the deadline in their pursuits and interests in Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin and Marian Hossa.
Indeed, any of those three might have offered the Senators another dimension. Murray said it himself, if the big three don't score, the Senators don't have a chance.
The fact neither goaltender has been consistently good and Ray Emery has also provided consistent distractions undoubtedly didn't help Paddock had to battle the Emery saga and the fact Martin Gerber could run with the chance to be number one.
So times have become desperate and we know what that leads to.
One has to wonder if the owner, Eugene Melnyk, didn't grow a little impatient after he watched his team lose twice on the ice and see Hossa acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins and fear those budgeted playoff gates might be fewer than hoped.
Whatever, a good man and a good coach took the hit yesterday. Can't say it was the right thing to do, but it was certainly the only move left for Murray.
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About the Author
Scott Morrison, the recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fameís 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, has been covering hockey for 25 years. The Toronto native began his career at the Toronto Sun in 1979. After spending more than 11 years as a hockey writer and columnist at the paper, Morrison became Sports Editor in 1991 and led the section to being named one of North America's top-ten sports sections in 1999 - the first sports section in Canada to receive the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott, a former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, joined Rogers Sportsnet in 2001 as Managing Editor, Hockey, and is currently both a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada and a columnist for CBC.ca.
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