Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray said before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final that he's in the last stages of hiring his next coach, with second interviews with top candidates forthcoming.
The coaches who already interviewed with Murray (via ESPN) included former Columbus Blue Jackets assistant Bob Boughner; TSN analyst Craig MacTavish; Montreal Canadiens assistant Kirk Muller; Canadian junior coach Dave Cameron; and Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean.
Remember that last name; Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun believes the man with the glorious mustache will be the next head coach of the Senators.
From the Sun:
When Mike Babcock was hired by Murray to coach the Ducks, he hired MacLean as an assistant. MacLean has been with Babcock ever since, from his two years in Anaheim to six with Detroit. Murray's proudest hiring is Babcock and with good reason. The Wings coach is one of if not the best in the league.
There's no doubt he has given MacLean a ringing endorsement and it's certain Murray values Babcock's opinion. As an assistant in the NHL for as long as he's been, MacLean must be a good communicator. And judging by the success the Wings have had the past six seasons, he's done a good job coaching them up with Babcock. If Murray liked the way he interviewed, it says here MacLean will soon be moving to Ottawa. He can borrow my truck if he needs it.
Hey, that's gotta be a violation of journalistic … oh, right, Ottawa Sun. Got it.
Like we said when the Sens were flirting with Pierre McGuire as a new general manager, Ottawa needs a personality as a franchise. Or at least a different personality than "The Team That Bryan Murray Bungled" or "Goalie Graveyard" or "Trade Spezza."
Sometimes, the easiest way to find a new personality is to borrow someone else's, which is a time-honored tradition in sports. Like when Lou Lamoriello took everything but Youppi from Montreal and imprinted it on the Devils. Or like when the San Jose Sharks hired Todd McLellan and the Tampa Bay Lightning hired Steve Yzerman because they had the Winged Wheel on their résumés.
Hiring Muller would bring some Montreal glory to the Ottawa bench. Hiring MacLean would not only carry over some Red Wings cachet but a disciple of Mike Babcock.
Venerable Red Wings blogger George Malik thinks MacLean takes over in Ottawa. The 6th Sens wondered if, and why, the Red Wings would let him leave. Tony Mendes of Senshot sees a philosophical fit for MacLean and Murray:
Murray has longed to turn Ottawa into Detroit-East and make the Sens a puck possession team. Mike Babcock is not going anywhere, so the next best thing may be the man who has been his understudy for the last five seasons.
Indeed. Smart money is on MacLean in Ottawa. Now, when will the Winnipeg Whatevers announce Claude Noel? Before or after their new nickname?