The Ottawa Senators have made another major move in their continuing rebuild, this time firing head coach Guy Boucher. Assistant coach Marc Crawford will take over in the interim as the team begins its search for a new head coach. GM Pierre Dorion had this to say in a press release:
I want to thank Guy for his three years of service. He is a good person and has been an excellent representative of the Senators. At this point, however, we need a different set of coaching and leadership skills to guide our team through this rebuild. In the interim, Marc will bring a different perspective along with a wealth of head coaching experience.
This move comes almost immediately after Dorion told Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia that the team would wait until the end of the season to evaluate Boucher’s future. Apparently Senators management changed their mind and made the move now to ensure different habits would be instilled over the last few weeks of the season. To that end, former Senators player Chris Kelly has been added to the coaching staff.
Boucher’s tenure in Ottawa comes to an end a few weeks before his three-year contract expired, and he’ll finish with a 94-108-26 record. His time in Ottawa went similar to his previous job in Tampa Bay, where he led the Lightning to an outstanding first season before struggling in years two and three. The Senators went 44-28-10 in 2016-17 before almost making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but fell apart last season and have been a disaster this year.
The team announced their coaching search and explained what they are looking for in their next bench boss, with development and growth listed at the very top. Dorion did admit that Crawford would be considered for the full-time job, though it sounds more like the team is looking outside of the organization for their new head coach. Crawford of course has plenty of experience in the role, previously coaching the Quebec Nordiques, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars while also taking the Colorado Avalanche all the way to a Stanley Cup championship in 1996.
It’s not surprising that Boucher was not retained, but the timing of this move is certainly curious. The team has not performed well all season but Dorion spoke about their recent play as something that sparked this decision. Part of that play is obviously because of the lack of skill after jettisoning Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel, but Dorion must have seen something else that he did not want creeping into the dressing room.