With each passing day, a Senator playoff spot becomes even more of a longshot. As of today, the first place Boston Bruins (62pts) have lapped the Senators (31pts). The Sens are 11 points out of a playoff spot behind 8th place Pittsburgh.
Well, holidays and the World Juniors are almost over. If Toronto beats the Sens tonight, I believe all hell will break loose. Just think, at night’s end, the Sens could find themselves 13 points out of the playoffs and 7 points behind Toronto, which was supposed to be garbage this year. They could also stand alone, 2nd last overall in the NHL.
All this may be too much for owner Eugene Melnyk to bear - watching the Sens fall so far out while Leaf fans are partying and laughing at his team.
They'll wait until the World Junior smoke has cleared but I believe a loss tonight in Toronto will essentially be Craig Hartsburg’s swan song. A coaching change is the least invasive of the shakeup selections. Yes, Bryan Murray is probably planting the charges of TNT under this club as we speak. But I think it’s prudent to first double check that it’s not the coach’s fault. Hartsburg has a fine junior resume, just as John Paddock had a fine AHL resume. But that hasn’t translated to NHL success anywhere either man has gone.
So before we get all hasty with heavy player movement, the Sens should first give this team to someone with a track record of winning. Their timing is excellent. There just happens to be a few of those out there. Pat Quinn, John Tortorella and Peter Laviolette are all out there waiting for a gig. With all due respect to coaches like Paddock and Hartsburg, what’s wrong with Olympic gold medals and Stanley Cup rings?
I don't believe Murray has any plans to flick Hartsburg. It looks awful to fire 2 straight coaches in the same season you hired them. But it may not be his call to make. Melnyk is a passionate fan who wants things done yesterday. Maybe it's Murray himself who'll feel the wrath of the owner.
Buckle up. It could be an interesting start to the Senator new year.