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NHL Rumours: Ottawa Senators

The rumours are flying around the NHL, specifically in the Canadian national capital, as the search for a head coach gains steam. The Ottawa Senators have been without a permanent head coach since D.J. Smith was let go in mid-December. A former head coach, Jacques Martin, has been filling in as a temporary replacement. But at 71 years young, the desire to be an NHL bench boss isn’t realistic. He has been great for the young group, teaching defensive structure, but the club needs a new leader.

The Top Head Coach Candidates for the Ottawa Senators as per NHL Rumours

These rumours have been swirling for a couple of months now, but TSN’s Pierre LeBrun has reported some top candidates. Before we mention the names, it is worth noting that General Manager Steve Staios isn’t in a rush to hire a coach. Moreover, the idea is that they would like someone in place by the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. This would still be right around three months from today. Furthermore, the timing is important, as there will be two waves of new options coming up. The first is after the regular season ends. Many teams will be looking for a change, and this would open up the playing field for Staios to decide. In addition, there usually are a couple of firings that take place after the first round of the NHL playoffs. So, Staios is keeping an open mind at this time.

According to NHL rumours, the list of potential top candidates right now does reveal some interesting prospects. The name John Gruden, no not that Jon (former Super Bowl Champion Head Coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers), ‘John’ is the current Toronto Marlies bench boss. The connection for Gruden is that he worked previously with Staios with Hamilton of the OHL. Other names that have been floating around include Todd McLellan, Gerard Gallant, and Craig Berube. Each of these three men has been NHL head coaches within the last year.

A Name That Has Been Low-Key Regarding NHL Rumours

The main idea with LeBrun’s discussion is that Dean Evason is someone who has likely flown under the radar. However, he is definitely a name worth considering for Staios. Evason was another NHL head coach fired within the past year, as the Minnesota Wild let him go after a 5-10-4 start. Even though Evason never had much playoff success with the Wild, during his tenure as head coach, he does deserve another shot at NHL success. He has been a coach through the ranks, junior, AHL, and NHL pretty steadily back to 1999. Maybe the Senators are where he and the club can enjoy their joint breakout.

Any Possibilities of Hiring from Within

Aside from all the NHL rumours and outside distractions, there has been tremendous growth within the Ottawa Senators organization in 2023-24. Jacques Martin has brought stability to the club, and begun the journey to defensive responsibility and structure. Also, Daniel Alfredsson was brought back, and his role going forward is yet to be defined. The consensus is that he is likely not ready for a lead role, but would plausibly have a spot on a new coaching staff. Finally, another name that is out there, but again probably more of a staff add, rather than a true head coach candidate is former Senator Chris Kelly. In any sense, the Senators will have a new head coach for 2024-25. The pressure for Staios and his staff to find someone to lead them to the 2025 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs will be high. Can the off-ice staff come through?

Main photo: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports


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