OTTAWA (AP) — The Ottawa Senators have a new coach, and new philosophy.
Paul MacLean, an assistant coach for the Detroit Red Wings the past five years, was hired Tuesday by a team that failed to make the playoffs two of the last three seasons.
"I think it's important in the NHL today that the coach and players communicate," MacLean said at a news conference. "Communication with the players is important in empowering them and having them invest in what you're trying to do and what you're trying to accomplish. It's not me against them. It's us — the Ottawa Senators — against the rest of the league."
The Senators announced the hiring a day after the move was first reported by ESPN.com and confirmed by The Associated Press.
Ottawa fired Cory Clouston and two assistants in April following a season in which the club finished near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Clouston was criticized for being too hard on his players and too rigid with his strategy.
"After a poor season, the need for change was obvious," general manager Bryan Murray said. "I felt Paul fit the profile. He'd been a player, been a head coach, been an assistant coach in the National Hockey League. He's been a winner everywhere he's been. I think he brings energy, experience, expertise and people skills, most importantly."
MacLean helped Detroit win the Stanley Cup in 2008. He and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock also worked together for two years in Anaheim, taking the Ducks to the Stanley Cup final in 2003 when Murray was the team's GM.
"I believe the National Hockey League is a fast and physical league and the game needs to be played that way," MacLean said. "You have to be able to skate the whole rink, so we're going to skate the rink, play good defense, but we're going to attack the net and make sure we're putting pressure on the opposition."
MacLean spent 11 seasons in the NHL, playing for Winnipeg, Detroit and St. Louis from 1980-91. He finished with 324 goals and 349 assists.
MacLean is the fourth head coach to serve under Murray in Ottawa. Apart from Clouston, the others were John Paddock and Craig Hartsburg.
Murray coached the Senators from 2005-07. He was promoted to general manager the following season, but took over behind the bench for the fired Paddock in 2007-08 before moving upstairs again the next season.
"Paul represents a big part of the change we needed to bring to our hockey club," Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in a statement. "The fact is we are a very different looking hockey team compared to a year ago. Bryan and I agreed it was important for him to bring in someone who is a solid communicator, can easily build a strong rapport with our players and has a proven track record of winning NHL games and Stanley Cups."