Paul MacLean fired by Senators

The Ottawa Senators have fired Paul MacLean, who won the NHL's coach of the year award 18 months ago but had since been guiding a struggling team.

NHL's coach of the year in 2013

MacLean firing analysis

9 years ago
Duration 2:43
CBC Ottawa sports reporter Dan Seguin analyzes the reasons behind Paul MacLean's firing.

The Ottawa Senators have fired head coach Paul MacLean.

The NHL team made the announcement Monday, and general manager Bryan Murray said at a news conference later that assistant Dave Cameron has been promoted to head coach on a permanent basis.

"I've had some tough days lately," said Murray, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment and watched longtime Senator Daniel Alfredsson retire last week. "This is one of them."

MacLean, 56, was in his fourth season as Ottawa's head coach.

The Antigonish, N.S., native won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach in 2013, his second season with the Senators, and took an injury-ravaged team to the second round of the playoffs that year. The team rewarded him with a three-year contract extension that runs through 2016-17.

But Ottawa missed the playoffs last season and is currently outside of a playoff position with a record of 11-11-5, despite Sunday night's comeback overtime win over Vancouver.

"We continue to be a big turnover team in our zone," said Murray. "The chances against our team are, some nights, atrocious. I think there's an obligation for a lot of people, the players included, to perform better than that. But the leader of the pack always is the coach."

'Drifted' from players

The first NHL head coach to be fired this season, MacLean finishes his Senators tenure with a regular-season record of 114-90-35.

"I thought when he came here he was a guy who related very well to the players... but that kind of drifted," Murray said. "He became more demanding of some of the players and more critical of some of the players."

MacLean played parts of 11 NHL seasons as a forward, the bulk of them with Winnipeg. He made his coaching reputation as an assistant under Mike Babcock in both Anaheim and Detroit before Ottawa gave him his first NHL head coaching job in June 2011.

MacLean guided the Senators to the playoffs in his first season and was a finalist for the Jack Adams before winning it the following year.

He was involved in a whimsical moment during the 2013 season when a fan impersonated him from a seat behind the bench.

With files from The Canadian Press