Friday, June 19, 2009
Let me preface this by saying that while there is a strong chance that there is far more to this story than the “Coach yelled at me in front of everyone and I didn’t like it” story, that’s all we have to go on for now. His agents have talked about how Heatley didn’t like the treatment from the media, as well, but let’s focus a bit of time on the Clouston/Heatley relationship going forward.
One thing that nobody has talked much about is the immense amount of pressure this adds to Cory Clouston in 2009-2010. Think about it – he took over a bottom dweller at a point when we were begging for the summer. Expectations at that point were nil. We had no idea how to pronounce this guy’s name, let alone why he was picked to finish out the year. Every win he got was gravy for self-confidence (although it screwed up our draft pick).
But in finishing the year to a standing ovation and a summer of anticipation, Coach Clouston is about to see the other side of the Ottawa fanbase. Most of us are expecting a decent summer from Murray and a strong start from Pascal, resulting in a quick return to the postseason. We are about to see Cory Clouston coaching in an era of expectation, just like predecessors like Jacques Martin, Bryan Murray, John Paddock, and Craig Hartsburg all faced.
But here’s the ticker – as far as we have been told, Coach Clouston is also one of the main reasons that our leading scorer (he puts up 50 of them per year, sometimes) wants to leave Ottawa. I’ll repeat that – Dany Heatley asked to be traded out of Ottawa because he didn’t like the coach’s system.
Let me ask you this, Smithers: what happens if Dany Heatley opens up with a quick 10-12 goals in his first month in his new city while Ottawa stumbles, bumbles, and fumbles out of the gate in the Northeast? As much as we hate Dany Heatley today, we have the tendency to turn on our own heroes incredibly fast and will throw just about anyone to the wolves if given the airtime. Remember when half of Ottawa wanted to rescind Alfie’s key to the city?
I opine that if Heatley’s tiff really is with the system and coaching style in Ottawa, then Clouston had better be winning games early and often this fall. While I think his job security will last a while and I am confident that he is the right person for the job, there is an immense amount of pressure on him. Don’t be surprised if the post-game show pundits start screaming for Heaters to come back if he has a more successful start this fall then Clouston’s Senators. Fairness has never been a part of our MO in Ottawa. (photo from Ottawa Citizen)