Ottawa Senators fire head coach, assistants after disappointing season
NHL team finished 2015-16 season with a 38-35-9 record and didn't make playoffs
Ottawa Senators general manager says it was tough, personally and professionally, to fire head coach Dave Cameron and three assistant coaches after the team's disappointing 2015-16 NHLseason.
"This is not a great day and it's not a fun day. We're dealing with human beings here," Pierre Dorion told reporters at a news conference early Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after the moves were announced.
"They were all good people. It was tough for me to do on a personal level, and on a professional level."
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The dismissed assistant coaches are Andre Tourigny, Rick Wamsley and Jason Smith. Smith has been offered another position in the organization, but the team did not specify the role or say whether he had accepted it.
Dorion thanked the dismissed coaches for their contributions and wished them "the best of luck."
Ideally, the Senators will have a new head coach in time for the NHL draft, Dorion said, adding he would like it to be someone with a commitment to the team playing more defensively.
'We have a team that underachieved'
The Senators finished the 2015-16 season with a 38-35-9 record — eight points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. An evaluation to examine why had been underway for about a month prior to Dorion's decision to terminate the coaching staff.
In late March, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk publicly called out the entire organization for the team's performance.
"There's nobody safe when you have a year like we just did. No way. The status quo will just get us [back here] next year," Melnyk told reporters. "We're going to have to make changes for next year. I'm looking at all of it. It's right across the board."
Dorion said Tuesday he wasn't bound by Melnyk's remarks and that the decision was his.
"We all know Eugene's a very passionate owner. ... He cares so much about us winning that I think he spoke out of passion," he said.
"Were my hands tied? Not at all. ... If you want to coach in the NHL, you have to understand the circumstances. As far as reputation, I think we have a team that underachieved this year. ... I think that's pretty clear on how I feel."
Cameron had served for just more than a year
Cameron, 57, became the 11th head coach in Sens history when he was promoted in December 2014, according to the team. He had spent the previous three-plus seasons as an assistant coach, and has a career NHL head coaching record of 70-50-17, or .537 in 137 games.
Dorion said Tuesday that Cameron handled his firing professionally, along with the assistants, when they were notified Tuesday morning.
Tourigny, 41, joined the Senators coaching staff in July 2015 and had spent the two previous seasons as an assistant coach with Colorado. Before joining the Avalanche, he served as head coach and general manager of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
Wamsley, 56, was hired by the Sens in July 2010. He is a former NHL goaltender who played 407 games with the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. He previously had worked with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and in St. Louis and Toronto.
"We just felt that we needed to make a whole change," Dorion said about the decision to let them go.
"You don't want to string them along. The evaluation has been going on for over a month about why we didn't make the playoffs here. ... Players are part of this, too ... but you can't fire 23 players. You can't."