Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hartsburg Possibly On The Outs: TSN

Tsn insider Bob McKenzie told the viewing audience after the game tonight that a coaching change is most likely on the way and that Eugene Melnyk is said to be looking for someone with vast experience.

EDIT: There are different interpretations about what McKenzie said. He did not explicitly say that Hartsburg is getting fired but, to me anyways, McKenzie is not one to broadcast just any old rumour but when he does, there is probably something to it. Like all rumours, this should not be taken as gospel.

Cue the Pat Quinn rumours (if Pittsburgh doesn't hire him first after firing Michel Therrien). McKenzie also mentioned Bob Hartley who was also interviewed for the job last summer.

I don't have much time to comment on the loss to New Jersey but you can basically just refer to my column on the loss to the Leafs. ie: the Senators are playing their assess off but they just don't have the personnel to compete due to a primitive, AHL level defense core and terrible goaltending.

In short, this team is toast and it looks like Bryan Murray will try to save his job by axing Craig Hartsburg.

The strange thing is, Murray will be on the side of reason by firing Hartsburg no matter what kind of chaos it creates in the organization. Hartsburg is obviously not the right coach for this team though he hasn't yet reached John Paddock's level of ineffectiveness.

Unfortunately for Murray, he is the one who hired both Paddock and Hartsburg and thought it would be safe to let both of his remaining NHL-level offensive defenseman go at the same time.

My hunch is that Menlyk is still a Murray fan and may only decide to change out the coaching staff. It does sound strange to insinuate that an owner would make what is usually a hockey management decision but there is no way that Murray would can Hartsburg on his own. It's just too embarrasing.

Like I've said before, Hartsburg is subject to the same rules as all coaches in the NHL, whether he's new or not. You win or you're gone, regardless of the roster you're given to work with.

Fair or not, that's life in the NHL.


Anonymous said...

I think that the story with this club is a lot deeper than has been reported.

If you recall, when Melnyk bought the team in 2003, he was viewed by many as an outsider. The Sens had a stable organizational culture that was built going back to 1996. We had one coach, Jacques Martin. Roy Mlakar was the president. The GM's (Gauthier, Dudley, Johnson, and Muckler) worked within that culture and built on one another's work. Drafted players were developed. The scouting staff was stable. In short, there was a lot of continuity in the organization, from players to management. The Ottawa Senators were like a big family and the team had that community feel.

There was a Senators way of doing things. It was principled, predictable, and fair. Drafted players were treated like they were the future of the club and given every opportunity to develop. They were not discarded and traded away.

The organizational culture was so strong that when the team's captain and superstar, Alexei Yashin, held out for more money, the team did not give in to his demands. They made him sit, because he was violating his contract. The Sens did this at a time when the norm was for teams to give in to a players demands. The Sens were a special organization. What made them even more special is that the team played well without Yashin and even made the playoffs. When Yashin gave up holding out, the team took him back and performed as if nothing had happened. No drama. At season's end, they flipped him for Spezza and Chara.

Even the bankruptcy of the club in 2002-03 was not enough to distract the hockey club. It performed well, when most teams would be distracted by such circumstances. The organizational culture of the Sens was bigger than any owner, GM, or player.

I believe that Melnyk felt like an outsider after he bought the team. I believe that when Murray was hired as coach, Melnyk's plan was make him GM so that "his guy" was in charge of hockey operations. Murray has proceeded to change the once successful organizational culture of the team.

He has made a mess of the team and the organization, but Melnyk made it happen.

Hartsy will be the fall guy. It is not fair, but he is not the right coach for this team. Murray should be canned, but I expect that he will voluntarily faded away in the offseason.

I expect that Pat Quinn will be hired by Tuesday. He is known for coaching an aggressive open game, so the Sens should be fun to watch again.

The new GM better be a guy who is better at building players up rather than tearing them down. He also better be a guy who the players respect. I want to see the Sens return to the classy organization they once were.

Oh ya, bring back the theme for the next home game. At least it'll feel like we are getting back on track.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 11:19 - very well written and expressed. I agree 100%, except that Pat Quinn is the solution.

Murray is 100% to blame for the dismantling of our 'Ferrari' and how he has managed to keep his job is beyond me. There are plenty of other terriffic candidates available right now - I would consider bringing back Randy Sexton or giving Steve Yzerman the franchise keys.

One other guy that needs to go is Roy Malakar. If Murray doesnt have the balls to can Hartsburg then Roy should get it done. At the same time he should fire Murray and himself.

The situation is grave - we not only need a roster rebuild, we need a culture rebuild.

Anonymous said...

My sense is that Mlakar has been marginalized. He used to be the guy in charge, but I sense that Murray has more clout now with Melnyk. Murray is "Melnyk's guy".

Brian Burke called Mlakar "the best sports executive in the last 50 years" on the Jim Rome show a couple of years ago. I think that Mlakar has done a great job at building the Ottawa Senators as an organization.

I don't think he could dump Murray even if he wanted to.

My advice to Geno would be to dump Murray. Pat Quinn is a decent interim solution but probably not a good permanent one. I think that he would give the team a jolt for the balance of the season. They might get there offensive instincts back.

Bring in Stevie Y as a full time guy in the summer. After that, just chill, Geno. Stop messing with the club.

Anonymous said...

Pat Quinn is the last thing this team needs in a GM role. In fact, I can't think of anyone who would be a worse fit from the hockey world. His practice of trading young talent and picks for old-timers is well documented. Note: As an interim coach maybe, but GM? You gotta be nuts. Stevie Y would be a nice fit, but honestly, I'm tired of the revolving door for management since Melnyk took over.

Anonymous said...

My interest in Quinn is as interim coach. He would be given GM duties just to replace Murray until a permanent guy is found. I agree with you in that I would not want Quinn to trade away the young talent.

Andrew said...

Mlakar is a joke. He happened to be lucky enough to be around when the Kings got Gretzky and has parlayed that into a long and undistinguished career with the Sens. The way this organization has been run (not talking about hockey operations here) in recent years is nothing short of bush-league and completely embarrasing from a fans point of view. This is a professional sports organization being run like some king of WWE style spectacle. In a situation like this everybody should be and must be held accountable, especially those who have overseen and been intrumental in letting this team turn into a steaming pile of crap.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, if you're referring to the gladiator at last year's playoffs, and "the Force United" BS, my impression is that these are innovations coming from the owner.

There have been so many weird changes in the last few years, that I gotta believe that Mlakar has been marginalized.

Anonymous said...

Do we have any young talent for Quinn, or anyone else, to tade? I don't think so. The cuboards are dry my friends, Karleson aside.

And to all you wing nuts that believe Malakar is insignificant - why don't we fire his ass then and save $300-500k! WHo cares really, the issue is whether or not to keep Murray and it sounds like we all agree - it's time for Murray to go before he makes, yet another, stupid personell decision.

kevin said...

hey now,
enjoy reading your blog...well updated too!
to answer your question that would be 1200 cfgo radio formerly energy 1200 and rock radio before that.
energy was tough to listen to.
i do have an answer for struggling all sport radio however i wouldn't share it unless the muckymucks making the big and bad format decisions paid me millions for the ticket to the promised land.
keep up the good work.
sens fan since i got peluso's name on the back of my jersey.