Having gone through three bench bosses over the last three years, GM Bryan Murray has been given the task of hiring yet another coach. Good chance this will be his last hire.
Word was the leading candidates at the end of the regular season were Dave Cameron ( who is coaching in the OHL ), former NHL coaches Ken Hitchcock and Craig MacTavish, as well as Canadiens assistant coach Kirk Muller. Other names thrown around were Kevin Dineen ( who took the Panthers job ), Gerard Gallant ( who recently won the Memorial Cup ) and Paul MacLean who is an assistant with the Red Wings.
However one dark horse has emerged over the last month. Kurt Kleinendorst, who took a young Binghamton Senators team into the AHL playoffs as an underdog and led them to the Calder Cup title, worked himself into contention.
As of June 10th, Murray was said to have spoken to all candidates and was in the process of deciding who would be the right fit. The Ottawa Sun reported MacLean would most likely be the next coach. Both MacTavish and Kleinendorst interviewed well, and you have to think winning an AHL championship will be fresh in the minds of the Murrays.
Look for a hiring within the week.
Senators win the Cup
The AHL Calder Cup that is. Getting into the playoffs as a cross over team due to a higher point total, Bingo trailed the Manchester Monarchs three games to one in the first round. Three overtime wins later, the Sens were on their way.
One of the keys was the players who came back from the parent club were given roles and they performed them. Colin Greening, Zach Smith, Bobby Butler and Eric Condra all spent considerable time in Ottawa this year, and adapted right away to their return to the AHL. Mixing in with Corey Locke, Kaspars Daugavins and Ryan Potulny enabled the baby Sens to have a balanced attack.
Another key was the play of Robin Lehner. The first year pro who is still a teenager had a tumultuous season. Injuries as well as being shuttled back and forth between the NHL, AHL and World Juniors had some thinking Lehner was going to take a few years to deliver on his potential. But he became the catalyst during the run, winning 14 games and posting a goals against of 2.10. He was also named the playoff MVP.
Considering how his season went and his teams, Lehner and the Sens have to be more than happy the way things ended.
Alfredsson goes under the knife
Captain Daniel Alfredsson played in only 54 games in 2010-11 due to injuries, his lowest total during his 15-year career. On Friday, Alfie had surgery on his lower back, removing a portion of a disk that was bulging and causing him severe pain. The hope at the end of the year was that rest and rehab would cure his ills but the injury was not progressing. So the surgery was performed. Recovery time will be about four-to-six weeks, which should give Alfredsson more than enough time to be ready for the beginning of the season.
This past week Sens management had a chance to get up close and personal with five top prospects in the upcoming NHL entry draft. Ryan Strome, Sean Couturier and Mika Zibanejad stopped in on Monday, while Jonathan Huberdeau and Gabriel Landeskog had their turn on Tuesday. All participated in meetings, as well as an on ice workout. The belief is one of these players will be putting on a Sens jersey in a few weeks. Landeskog seems to be high on the lists of many teams, and Ottawa is no different. One player who seemed to really impress is Zibanejad, who has climbed from a second round pick at the beginning of the year to a top eight at this point.
If he is available when the Sens pick at the six spot, and Landeskog is off the board, look for Ottawa to take Zibanejad. Adding another Swede to the group will not deter Murray come draft day.