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Senators name Staios as GM/President Hockey Ops, Poulin as VP Hockey Ops

January 1, 2024, 8:04 PM ET [227 Comments]
Sens Writer
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By Ken Hawkins (a.k.a. khawk)

On the last day of 2023, the Senators made a key announcement that further illustrates the benefit of new ownership under Michael Andlauer. As many had speculated, Steve Staios was named as the team’s GM/President of Hockey Operations. Less expected was the concurrent announcement of Dave Poulin as the new Vice-President of Hockey Operations. This ends a period of major uncertainty that resulted from the mid-season firing of former GM Pierre Dorion. It also positions the team to begin planning its trade deadline strategy, as they have multiple impending UFA and dwindling playoff aspirations.

In Staios, the Senators gain a young GM with NHL pedigree, a very promising AHL track record, and the benefit of having the full trust of the new ownership group. In Poulin, the Senators add a tremendous amount of NHL experience, leadership, and character to their management team. He also has extensive ties to the Ottawa region, and made it clear in the press conference that he’s particularly excited to be joining a team with such a high degree of potential. It’s yet another example of a quality hiring that just wouldn’t have been possible under the team’s previous ownership. Conversely, Andlauer continues to add nothing but quality and value to the team's management to help position the team for long-term success.

Turning the corner?

Despite a rough start to the second Martin-era of coaching, there’s reason for optimism as the team prepares for a difficult schedule in 2024. The new coaching staff has been able to have a few practices to start addressing their weaknesses, and the Senators have responded with a 3-1-0 record in their past 4 games. Even more important are some of the visible improvements in the on-ice product, including playing a more emotionally mature game where they stick to a more structured game approach. The team’s even-strength performance has improved to the extent that only 1 regular lineup player has a plus-minus worse than -2. That said, a key focus of attention has to become the PK, which has fallen to being the worst in the NHL. However, the recent return of Thomas Chabot to the lineup should provide a major boost to the team, especially in terms of their defensive structure.

The change in coaching approach has also resulted in a surge in the performance of a couple of notable players - including Batherson and Chychrun, who have combined for 6G-10Pts in their past 5GP, and are now top-15 in the NHL in terms of RW/D scoring. Key to this is the active teaching approach that’s been adopted by Martin & Alfredsson, which is helping the young players to actually learn from their mistakes instead of just repeating them without accountability. Batherson in particular has noted in post-game interviews the value of having Martin and Alfredsson talking to the players on the bench throughout the game to provide both a calming influence and guidance on how to improve. For such a young team, this really feels like the right direction to help them develop to their full potential. And who knows... the team still has multiple games in hand that could yet result in some very "meaningful" games later this season.

What do you think of the team’s recent management additions? Feel free to comment below, and as always thanks for reading!
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