Approaching the busiest two weeks of the summer schedule – the free agent interviewing window, the entry draft and the start of the free agent signing period all occur by July 1 – the Ottawa Senators were noticeably lagging behind their counterparts in one area.
Having cleaned house almost completely on the heels of a disappointing season in which they missed the playoffs for the second time in three years, the Sens had plenty of holes on their bench and in their front office that needed filling. But with the draft just days away, new GM Pierre Dorion has finally rounded out his new, experienced coaching staff.
Looking at his staff it’s clear head coach Guy Boucher – who was given autonomy over the hiring process – went into the hiring process with a mind to bringing in candidates who are not only experienced, but who he is also familiar with: Each of Boucher’s new hires has crossed paths with him at some point in his respective career.
Below is a list of Ottawa’s new coaching staff and their background:
Guy Boucher (head)
The 44-year-old has spent parts of 12 seasons coaching at every level – major junior, minor-pro and the pros – in North America and abroad. His career started as an assistant coach with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in 2000 and slowly progressed until he landed his first head coaching gig with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in 2006/07 (he would go on to win the QMJHL championship in 2009, losing in the Memorial Cup semi-finals). The 2010/11 season saw Boucher earn his first NHL head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he would spend parts of three years, the best of which saw his team reach the conference finals in his first year. The last stop on his whirlwind coaching tour was with Bern of the Swiss-A League, where he has spent the past three seasons amassing a 44-29-5 record with little playoff success.
Marc Crawford (associate)
What Boucher lacks in NHL experience Crawford more than makes up for with his 15 years and nearly 1,150 games of coaching experience in the world’s best league. In the NHL his claim to fame came with the Colorado Avalanche where he won his first and only Stanley Cup in the 1995/96 season. Despite failing to win the NHL’s top prize in any of his remaining 13 seasons, Crawford did manage a Jack Adams award win in 1994/95. But it was with Zurich, also in the Swiss-A league, where Crawford came into contact with Boucher, having gone up against Boucher’s Bern team regularly.
Rob Cookson (assistant)
Another product of the Swiss-A league, Cookson spent the past four seasons serving as Crawford’s assistant coach in Zurich, including on the 2013/14 championship-winning team, and briefly served under Boucher on Canada’s bench at the 2015 Spengler Cup where he helped lead the team to a gold medal. Prior to his tenure in Switzerland, the entirety of Cookson’s NHL coaching career was spent as an assistant with the Calgary Flames from 2001/02-2010/11, which included a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. Cookson also has a decade of experience on his resume working with Hockey Canada as a video coach for a variety of its programs.
Pierre Groulx (goaltending)
A native of Ottawa, Groulx comes to the team from the Florida Panthers organization where he spent each of the past two seasons with its AHL affiliates – San Antonio in 2014/15, Portland in 2015/16 – as goaltending coach. He also has plenty of NHL experience, having spent three seasons with Florida in the mid-2000s at a time when current Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was coming up through the Panthers system; Groulx also spent four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens organization working with a young Carey Price between 2009 and 2013. As for his connection to Boucher, Groulx worked with the current Ottawa bench boss as part of the Hamilton Bulldogs staff during the 2009/10 season.
Kristopher Young (video)
The newest of Ottawa’s brand new bench, Young comes to the Sens having spent most of his career with the Hamilton Bulldogs in their two incarnations. He worked with the AHL vintage from the 2006/07 season – in which he won a Calder Cup – to the 2009/10 season when he worked alongside Boucher, and most recently with the OHL vintage. In addition to his video coaching experience in Hamilton, Young also has plenty of international experience working for the Canadian Women’s National Team beginning in 2011, helping the team to a gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Tim Pattyson (statistical analysis)
Pattyson, a Sens staffer for 10 years, was the only member of Ottawa’s 2014/15 coaching staff to keep his job, but with a caveat: the former video coach was moved into a new role focused primarily on statistical evaluation and analysis. The addition of such a position to the coaching staff is further proof of the stronghold the advanced stats movement has taken on the game, but more importantly shows Dorion is committed to exploring all avenues – the eye test and the numbers test – to ensure he ices the best team on a nightly basis.
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