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NHL Report: February 28, 2008

<p>Bryan Murray fired John Paddock as the Ottawa Senators’ coach this week but here’s what he really should have done...</p>




Bryan Murray fired John Paddock as the Ottawa Senators’ coach this week but here’s what he really should have done:





He should have fired himself.





Why should Murray get to stay on as the Sens’ general manager and why should he get to resurface as head coach?





If it weren’t for Murray, after all, the Sens wouldn’t be in the pickle they seem to be in now.





Murray was the guy, remember, who, as Ottawa’s head coach, talked club owner Eugene Melnyk into firing the Sens’ general manager after the team advanced to the Stanley Cup championship series last season.





Murray backstabbed John Muckler, got the wise, old hockey man fired and took over as the Sens’ GM himself. Then he hired his assistant coach, John Paddock, as head coach.





Muckler, I imagine, has been laughing uncontrollably for several days now, first when the Sens were shut out by the lamentable Toronto Maple Leafs, then when they were blanked by the Boston Bruins and then when Murray went back to Melnyk and received permission to fire yet another couple of men.





This time, Murray’s targets were Paddock and assistant coach Ron Low.





Murray is a hatchet man. He is the kind of person you shouldn’t trust. He hangs you out to dry. He’s out for No. 1, or at least the man he considers No. 1 – himself.





He pretended Muckler was his friend and you know what he did to Muckler, despite Muckler’s success in Ottawa. He dumped Muckler’s men, too, players such as Mike Comrie, who played well with the Sens last season. Comrie, in fact, has excelled this season after joining the New York Islanders as a free agent. So enamored of Comrie are the Isles that they gave him a raise and a new contract this week.





Paddock not only was Murray’s assistant coach in Ottawa. He also was his top aide. And his confidante.





Now, Paddock is a goner.





Will Paddock’s departure and Murray’s return turn around things for the Sens?





Don’t count on it.





From what I hear, Paddock and Low were both popular with the Sens. The players liked and respected Paddock and Low. They’ve been slumping, no question, but the general belief in the dressing room is that Paddock was more capable of motivating the Sens than Murray, who makes a lot of the Ottawa players uncomfortable because of his irascible personality.





The Ottawa Citizen reported that two of the Ottawa players, Jason Spezza and Christoph Schubert, were beyond glum after hearing about Paddock’s firing.





Spezza has known Paddock for many years and played for him while in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators. Despite the rumors preceding the firing, Spezza never suspected his coach would be dumped.





"We feel directly responsible, as players, for the coach getting fired at this point of the season," Spezza said. "It's a tough day for us."





Schubert called the firings a "horrible" turn of events. He owes much of his NHL career to Paddock, who coached him in Binghamton and played a large role in preparing the defenceman for the NHL.





"He was a great coach," Schubert told The Citizen. "I have nothing bad to say about him. He's probably the reason I'm here right now, and he made me the player I am. I had a tough time coming over to North America, and he took his time, took me aside a couple of times, and talked to me a lot. It was a great job by him.





"So it was surprising and, for sure, a tough day for me.





"Apparently it's part of the job. I hate that part. I've never been through these kind of emotions before. It's a tough time for me."





Another Citizen story Thursday led like this: Murray “started to worry about his team around the end of December.”





In reality, he should have started to worry about his team way back in the off-season, when he got a better GM than himself fired.





I’m sorry, but I don’t believe the Sens would be this miserable and underachieving this much if Muckler were still in charge.





The ugly picture in Ottawa these days was, in reality, painted by Bryan Murray himself. Shame on him.






• Trade-deadline day means a lot of things to a lot of people, but no one on the planet cares quite as much about it as TSN.





The all-sports network created a television event for Canada’s hockey fans on trade-deadline day a decade ago and, despite the mimicking from other networks, TSN still rules on trade-deadline day.





It’s big business for TSN, which is why it proudly announced in a news release that it attracted more viewers on trade-deadline day, Tuesday, than the other Canadian sports networks combined.





TSN said in its release that it delivered an average audience of 166,000 viewers, more than three times Rogers Sportsnet’s audience for its trade-deadline show and nearly 14 times the audience of The Score for its trade-deadline show.





In all, 1.7 million Canadians watched some or all of TSN’s deadline coverage, up from 1.2 million last year.






Stan Fischler, a New Yorker, has been covering the NHL for more than 50 years and has written 101 hockey books, and I happen to think he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the sport he loves.





And he doesn’t like it much when CBC’s talking head, Don Cherry, goes on and on ad nauseum about Bobby Orr being the greatest player in NHL history.





Fischler believes the top player in NHL history is Gordie Howe.





“Orr only played 10 years when the calibre of the NHL was at its lowest,” Fischler said. “But Gordie played from 1946 to almost 1980 and could do almost everything.”





By the way, don’t look now, but Howe will be turning 80 in less than a month.






• Yesterday, Fischler was a telephone guest on The Fan 590, a Toronto radio station, and was asked about the possibility of New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello jumping to Toronto to become the bossman of the Maple Leafs.





“No way,” Fischler snapped. “Americans have no interest in going to Canada.”





Which, of course, came as a surprise to Fischler’s interviewer, a basketball announcer named Chuck Swirsky, who left the United States after applying successfully to become the voice (and shill) for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.






•And Fischler on the 121 NHLers with no-trade clauses:





“It’s a stupid, stupid thing that is a bad invention and it’s hurt hockey.”




marty.york@metronews.ca


 
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