Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray isn't certain who will be the team's next coach or what exactly the Senators' roster will look like next season, but he made it clear he doesn't want goaltender Ray Emery back.
Emery was a distraction to the team in 2007-08, fined for disciplinary reasons and essentially benched for the rest of the season when Murray took over for John Paddock as coach in late February.
Emery earned a substantial raise after helping Ottawa to an appearance in the Stanley Cup final last season. He still has two years and $6.75 million US left on his contract.
Murray would prefer not to have to buy out Emery.
"I told him yesterday, the plan right now would be to investigate possible options for him," said Murray. "I hope there's a team out there that will give him a look and talk to us about him."
Murray, appearing Friday with owner Eugene Melnyk and team president Roy Mlakar, said his first priority is to find the right head coach to get the team back to its winning ways.
"I think we need someone that will demand accountability, discipline, and obviously a good direction in technical skill, that is willing to do the right thing with players at the right time, which specifically means that if you aren't playing well, you may have to sit on the sidelines for a day or two," he said.
"I think that's what I saw more than anything this year — many things happened that allowed the players to slide in the way they behaved and played and we didn't make enough corrections at the right time."
Paddock, who had been with the organization for several years, failed to last a season as Ottawa's head coach. Paddock later said he didn't handle the Emery situation as well as he should have.
No plans for Heatley, Spezza
Murray couldn't halt the team's slide. Ottawa won just 14 of its last 39 regular season games and was swept out of the playoffs Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Expected to carry an even bigger load due to injuries to other key forwards, stars Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza underperformed in the first-round loss to Pittsburgh. Murray said he had no plans to offload them in order to address other needs, although it didn't sound like he'd made an ironclad decision.
"We made a commitment to them in the fall, we made a commitment to them to go forward with them as the people who are part of the core of this hockey team, and that is the plan at the moment," said Murray.
Emery admitted this week that he should have handled things differently when he lost his starting role to Martin Gerber.
The 25-year-old made a splash during the 2007 playoffs, when he posted a 2.26 goals-against average and three shutouts to lead Ottawa to the Stanley Cup finals.
In 31 games this season, Emery had a 12-13-4 record, with a 3.13 GAA and a save percentage of .890.