Just when we thought we’d seen the last of Bryan Murray’s lisp-induced post game press conferences, he fires John Paddock and takes over the reins for the Sens for the remainder of the year. Taking a page out of Lou Lamoriello’s book, who has a track record of firing coaches towards the end of the season, Murray’s hope is that the change of personnel will propel the Sens out of their current slump. The talk around Sens camp was that Paddock lost the Sens’ dressing room, and that the players had given up on their coach. As a result, an early season Jack Adams candidate is now unemployed along with goaltending coach Ron Low.
The Sens’ style of play on the ice shouldn’t be drastically altered with the coaching change, simply because Paddock was an assistant with Murray last season. The Sens’ run and gun style will still be implemented, so no need to worry about going back to the defense-first style, a la Jacques Martin and the Lance Pitlick era. Murray’s presence behind the bench will hopefully provide a sense of comfort and familiarity that the Sens were accustomed to during their glorious run to getting the tar kicked out of them by the Ducks during last year’s Cup Finals.
The one element that may be impacted the most will be the goaltending situation. It’s no secret that Murray has a soft spot for Emery, based on his performance during last year’s playoffs. Despite the fact that Emery’s off ice commitment, professionalism, and work ethic has been questioned, a lot of blame has been placed on Paddock and Low for not handling the situation properly. Expect Murray to give Emery the ball for the playoffs. Another element in which Paddock was criticized was that he overplayed the “Money” line during the beginning of the season (Alfredsson played upwards of 25 minutes some nights early in the season), and thus the reason for his late season injuries and struggles. As seen during last year’s playoffs, Murray won’t be afraid to shuffle his lines and move Alfredsson to the 2nd line, this year with Cory Stillman.