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Report: Senators Hiring Paul MacLean as Next Head Coach

June 13, 2011, 12:38 PM ET [ Comments]
Travis Yost
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After a full month of speculation, it appears to be an unwaivering certainty that the Ottawa Senators have finally decided on their head coach. Paul MacLean, former assistant coach of the Detroit Red Wings, will soon leave for greener pastures north of the 49th parallel, taking over the vacated head coaching position with the Ottawa Senators.

The hiring of MacLean shouldn't come as a complete surprise; although his name did only recently pop up in the rumor mill, his interview was said to blow the proverbial doors off of Bryan Murray and company. In fact, I had almost entirely left him off of my radar until he came in and wow'ed the suits in the city of Ottawa. Clearly, the front office fell in love with his demeanor and resume, one that includes hoisting the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.

Two weeks ago on Twitter, I had opined that MacLean had surged ahead of the pack, putting a stranglehold on the Ottawa Senators coaching search. This, of course, was all barring some complete turn of events in Kurt Kleinendorst's interview - at the time, Kleinendorst and the Binghamton Senators were still locked up in the AHL Calder Cup.

With each passing day, Paul MacLean looks like a stronger candidate to land head coaching position with Ottawa. My money's there, easy.
Day 4 - still more confident than ever it'll be Paul MacLean behind Ottawa bench. Will be surprised if MacT/KK. Floored/dumbfounded if other.

Although MacLean has no head coaching experience, he learned under the expert tutelage of Mike Babcock for years, and has held important assistant positions with both the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings. The Detroit front office was very clear about wanting MacLean to return to their program, viewing him as a highly valuable commodity responsible for the team's present and long-term success. However, being the class organization they are, they gave MacLean the opportunity to look around for a head coaching position, and it didn't take Ottawa very long to make the most of that.

Other candidates, including Craig MacTavish and Kurt Kleinendorst, were very deserving. Unfortunately, each had a major asterisk next to their name for different reasons. Questions about how MacTavish works with a young team really plagued his entire interview process, and the fact that Kurt Kleinendorst is already in the Ottawa Senators system somewhat devalued him as a candidate. Make no mistake about it, Ottawa's very aware that should Paul MacLean fall on his face, Kleinendorst remains a very realistic option as next-in-line. He'll remain in the AHL coaching up the youngsters down in Binghamton.

And, speculation fueled by both Pierre McGuire and Bob McKenzie indicates that Kleinendorst may join the Ottawa Senators as an assistant coach under MacLean. No word on that just yet.

As for MacTavish, it looks like he's becoming the primary target of the Minnesota Wild for their vacated head coaching position. Michael Russo of the Star Tribune tweeted such last night, and I think MacTavish could fit in well with a Wild roster that's not exactly devoid of talent. They're missing a strong personality in the locker room, and MacTavish will provide that and more should they come to terms on a contract.

TSN's Bob McKenzie agrees.

As for my personal opinion on the next bench boss in Ottawa, I couldn't be more thrilled. MacLean demands excellence from his players on every shift, and he'll hold players accountable for their actions on the ice - something that was pretty hit/miss during the Cory Clouston era.

There's nothing official on the hiring just yet, and we may not hear anything until the Stanley Cup is decided. Still, I can say that at this point, it's a pretty safe bet to prepare for the next wave of Ottawa Senators hockey, headed by the 'stache, Paul MacLean.
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