Days after Pierre Dorion took over for Bryan Murray as general manager of the Ottawa Senators, the new hockey operations chief made his first major decision. The Senators announced Tuesday morning that head coach Dave Cameron has been dismissed.
Cameron took over the Senators after Paul MacLean was fired during the 2014-15 season. Prior to that, Cameron had been an assistant coach in the organization for three years.
In addition to Cameron’s ouster, assistant coaches Andre Tourigny and Rick Wamsley were also let go. Assistant coach Jason Smith was relieved of his coaching duties and offered another position in the Senators organization.
Last season, Cameron helped guide Ottawa to one of the most dramatic late-season turnarounds in NHL history as Ottawa charged into the playoffs. They went 32-15-8 in the 55 games Cameron was behind the bench in 2014-15. This season, however, was a much different story. The Sens missed the playoffs with a 38-35-9 record and seemed to take a major step back.
When owner Eugene Melnyk recently said that “nobody is safe” in recent remarks to the media, it seemed like the writing was on the wall for Cameron’s dismissal. Then Dorion gave a non-answer about Cameron's future during his introductory press conference, which may as well have been an outright admission this decision was coming.
Prior to working in the NHL, Cameron had a successful run in the OHL. He also led the Senators’ AHL franchise for three seasons in the mid-2000s.
Now the Senators attention will turn to finding a replacement. There are multiple coaches with NHL experience who are currently unemployed and could be on their radar.
The first is Guy Boucher, who was fired by Swiss club SC Bern earlier this season, he returned to North America in hopes of finding a job in North America. Boucher was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning for parts of three seasons before being replaced by Jon Cooper in the 2012-13 season. Boucher led the Bolts to the Eastern Conference Final in his first year at the helm in 2010-11. Boucher was reportedly the Toronto Maple Leafs' second choice to Mike Babcock last year.
Marc Crawford, who has a Stanley Cup under his belt as a coach, could be another option. He spent the previous three seasons with Zurich in the Swiss National League A, but decided to return to North America to pursue NHL opportunities. He led Zurich to the championship last year and was top draft prospect Auston Matthews’ coach this season. Crawford, who won the Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, also spent time with the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars. He last coached in the NHL in 2010-11.
As Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun speculated, former Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo is another one that could be among those considered.
There’s also usually a host of AHL head coaches and NHL assistants that get a look, but it sounds like the Sens are going to be looking for someone with NHL head coaching experience to take the reins of a team that needs a new direction.