A nation’s capital is supposed to be filled with secrets, skeletons in cupboards and other such paraphernalia.
Still, some of the mysteries that surround Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray’s decision to rid the club of head coach Paul MacLean are stranger than the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
MacLean stopped respecting his players, especially his star players, Murray charged, adding the coach not only had Milan Michalek sit as a healthy scratch, but Bobby Ryan, too, and the latter named was not impressed. Instead of talking with his players, the coach started talking to his players, Murray said, and that doesn’t work at a time of modern, enlightened style of coaching that has been taking over lately.
What he said, basically, was simple: the inmates have taken over the asylum, and those who haven’t fathomed it (and adjusted accordingly) are going to suffer the consequences.
If half of this is true, then, heavens help professional sports. In fact, heavens help any professional organization. If the boss is no longer the boss, no need to employ bosses any longer. Hired hands can do a better job, without bosses of any kind.
Is that the message Bryan Murray tried to convey?
From the outside looking in, it is.
Just for the record: when MacLean sat Michalek and, later, Ryan, neither was producing which is what they are being paid for.
Controlling the active roster (who plays and who doesn’t) and time on ice are the last tools of coercion a coach has. So far as Bryan Murray is concerned, it shouldn’t be that way, and it should be upon the players to decide what is right for the team and what isn’t.
What borders on the shocking is that not many have picked up on this. Not many have questioned the wisdom (or lack thereof) of having inmates run the asylum.
In addition, several voices with inside knowledge intimated that the newly installed head coach, Dave Cameron, had been a personal friend of the owner, Eugene Melnyk, for quite some time. Some went so far as to suggest Cameron had an assurance whispered into his ear to the effect that the head coaching job is going to be his sooner rather than later.
If that is so, Murray extending MacLean’s contract after last season defies logic.
In any case, why the questioners let Murray off the hook after he suggested we all make mistakes is beyond abnormal.
In his news conference a day later, MacLean avoided unpleasant questions regarding these mysteries, concentrating instead on country singer Taylor Swift’s hit song, Shake It Off, and explaining that an unknown woman who yelled profanity-laced praise for him during the gathering was not his daughter.
Smart on his part: why burn bridges? After all, the Senators will now have to pay him not to coach at least till his contract with them runs out. It’s not even clear what they are going to do if and when MacLean lands another NHL head coaching gig, as is bound to happen.
Watching Bryan Murray embrace some perfectly frightful trends (fads, one is tempted to say) with no follow-up questions coming from the intrepid reporting crowd was a sight from another world.
Why the Senators’ management decided to go along this path is the darkest mystery of them all.