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Cory Clouston becomes latest Senators scapegoat as Bryan Murray fires another coach

Apr 9, 2011, 8:23 PM EDT

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Cory Clouston AP

The 2010-11 season was a fairly disastrous one for the Ottawa Senators. To the surprise of many, the team decided to (more or less) reward general manager Bryan Murray with a three-year contract extension yesterday. Yet to the surprise of few, it didn’t take long for the team to give embattled head coach Cory Clouston the boot, as TSN reports that the Senators fired Clouston as well as two assistant head coaches: Greg Carvel and Brad Lauer.

Assistant Luke Richardson and goalie coach Rick Wamsley will keep their jobs, though. (One must wonder if Wamsley gets along well with new goalie of the future Craig Anderson, thus keeping his job safe.)

While it would be tough to argue that Clouston was beyond reproach in the Senators’ sometimes-ugly 32-40-10 season, it seems a bit unfair to me. To paraphrase an old Bill Parcells quote, it’s pretty tough to blame the cook (Clouston) when the person buying the groceries (Murray) failed to buy the right ingredients.

After all, if Murray was such a visionary at the GM position, then why is he averaging a coach per year in his days as a general manager? His coaches include himself, Clouston, Craig Hartsburg and John Paddock.

In the mean time, the Senators keep rotating between awful and mediocre outputs, with Murray being one of the few constants. Clouston managed to help Ottawa grind its way to a first round appearance last season before the Pittsburgh Penguins dismantled his overmatched team. This season didn’t even go that well, however, although it’s tough to blame Clouston alone when the team kept getting hit with injuries and the stark reality that they simply didn’t amass enough talent.

Then again, you know what they say: you cannot fire the team, so fire the coach. There are certain GMs in the NHL who seem to have an endless amount of rope — likely because they found a way to charm a loyal and/or oblivious owner — and it seems like Murray might be one of them.

Either way, TSN points out that Clouston’s contract was set to expire on July 31, so it is reasonable to say that he didn’t do enough to show he was undeniably worthy of an extension. The frustrating part, though, is that Murray didn’t deserve one either.

Fair or not, it’s clear that Murray will get an opportunity to rebuild the Senators. He began such a task in earnest by dealing Mike Fisher and making other moves to stockpile draft picks. One can only speculate that he had an idea his job was secure while doing so, but again, that’s just speculation.

Nine times out of 10, a general manager will be able to keep his job while placing the blame on his coach’s shoulders. (In the event that one goes and one stays, that is.) Still, one must wonder how many times Murray will be able to hire and fire a coach before he ends up being the one on the chopping block.

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