Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pushed panic button pushes Paddock out the door!

After two consecutive lack luster efforts and a continuing slide that threatens to undermine all of Senator’s owner Eugene Melynk’s plans, the Ottawa Senators decided that with only 18 games left to stabilize their ship that the navigator had to be tossed overboard.

General Manager Bryan Murray dismissed his hand picked successor and Assistant Coach Ron Low on Wednesday, after watching the Sens impression of non contact public skating on Tuesday from Boston.

Murray the architect of this edition of the Sens, was unable to swing a major deal by the trade deadline and instead was left with the less than desired option of having to fire his coach in order to spark the sliding Senators.

Part of the blame must surely be assigned to Murray, who has let the goaltending situation fester for the last three months, a lack of action that now leaves Ottawa heading towards the playoffs with no discernible number one in the nets, and more alarming a pair of goaltenders that seem to have no confidence left.

It’s a trait that suddenly seems to have spread to the rest of the line up, as the Senators make far too many errors for a seasoned veteran club, turning over the puck in their own end, allowing the opposition to carry the play and most alarming of all the Sens have hit a scoring drought of worrisome proportions.

Paddock, the former assistant coach under Murray and the once head coach of the farm club was hung out to dry by his players. He was a straight talking coach, one who was not afraid to speak his mind, and in an era of the entitled athlete that apparently wasn’t what a coach should do.

A few weeks ago, when asked about the troubles that his goaltenders seemed to be having, his answer was that they “need to stop the puck.” A simple and obvious statement, that apparently didn’t sit too well with either martin Gerber or Ray Emery, who both had reportedly asked to be traded in the last couple of months.

Emery has been a skating sideshow for a good portion of the season, missing practices, missing flights and showing a lack of focus on his team and team mates that has surely had to have been a distraction.

Gerber, who had been fairly successful early on in the season, now seems challenged to stop a beach ball let alone stone the opposition on a nightly basis. Frustrated with Paddock’s win and you play system both he and Emery seemed at times to be unconcerned as to whether they played or not. One thing was certain, the win and you play plan never seemed to gain much in the way of traction, as the two alternated games for a good portion of January and February.

Murray had the option to solve that problem before Christmas, before the soap opera theatrics got out of hand and before the potential alternatives were snapped up. The Phoenix Coyotes managed to find a pretty successful option in the nets off the waiver wire, something that the Sens GM somehow managed to let slide by without so much as phone call.

Interestingly enough Murray says that he first began to worry about his team just before Christmas, but yet did nothing to try to reverse what was becoming a rather troublesome dynamic in the capital.

The Sens problems now however go much deeper than the troubled situation in the nets, defensively the team looks like it would be hard pressed to shut down a minor bantam squad on a good night.

And unless the high profile and formerly high scoring forwards on this team rediscover their scoring touch, then the playoffs will be a short and unhappy period of time for this group of Senators.

Paddock paid the price today for this teams inability to focus on the job at hand, but if Murray really wants to find out where the problems were he needs to have his players find a mirror and take a good long look.

Globe and Mail--Paddock pays the price

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