As first reported by TSN’s Brent Wallace, Eli Wilson has been fired as the goaltending coach of the Ottawa Senators.
Here is what head coach Cory Clouston had to say on the matter,
“I’m telling (you) right now: The responsibility doesn’t solely lie on Eli’s shoulders. I have to take some of that responsibility, I am part of the coaching staff obviously. I’m the head coach.It falls on my shoulders as well. We’re not solely blaming Eli. It appears that way, but to me we still have to find a way to make a change and this is part of the change.”
And here’s GM Bryan Murray’s take on the issue,
“Performance of the goaltenders in the organization had everything to do with it. I think Eli was a hard worker and paid a lot attention to it, but for some reason, both at the NHL level and American league level, we felt that the goaltenders weren’t where we thought they were going to be and where they have shown they can be.”
Alright, so I’m not going to pretend to be some goaltending guru or a guy who has any ability to contrast the impacts that the other various goaltending coaches have had for their respective NHL clubs, however, I may be one of the few who are asking, why now?
Why did the organization had to wait for a 5-game losing streak to fire the goaltending coach when the organization’s goaltending situation has been in disrepair for years? Think about that for second. For all of the garbage that we’ve endured as Senators fans since the team’s Cup Finals appearance in 2007, Wilson’s credibility has never come into question until now? Why? Are we to believe that the Gerber / Auld duo could have been more underwhelming?
Like Bruce Garrioch mentioned on Off the Posts, it’s easier to fire the goaltending coach than it is to fire the players. I never really want to revel in the fact that a guy lost his job but ultimately, the goaltending situation hasn’t remedied itself during Eli Wilson’s tenure and he deserves to shoulder the blame here. But, why now?
We survived the Martin Gerber era for God’s sakes. Thanks to the timing of the move, I can’t help but view Wilson as some sort of sacrificial lamb to appease the fans during this losing streak and absolve some of the blame from their goaltenders but he shouldn’t be alone. After years of being able to duck behind John Muckler’s incompetence, the time has come to hold Bryan Murray accountable for the job that he’s done as a general manager.
As head coach of the Senators during that 06/07 season, Bryan was the one who had a first hand experience of Ray Emery and his reported antics that still took place when the team was winning. And when Murray assumed John Muckler’s position as GM of the Senators, he didn’t trade Ray Emery. Instead, he rewared him with a $9M+ 3-year contract and catered to him by hiring his personal goaltending coach. (For the record, I don’t buy the argument that this recent losing streak was an easy opportunity to turf the guy who reportedly first got the job because he was Ray Emery’s friend and mentor. If that were the case, Murray would have turfed the guy at the same time that he pulled the trigger on the Paddock and Hartsburg firings.)
And after Emery, fans were forced to endure years of Gerber and lest we forget Alex Auld – a cruel punchline to some joke discussing all of the inconsequential players who were at one point dealt for Roberto Luongo. Which brings us to Pascal Leclaire. A goalie who looked like he was finally starting to put things together before that ill-fated night when Mike Fisher ripped a clearing attempt upside Leclaire’s visage. And since his return from the IR, Leclaire’s been Gerber’esque at best. (Ed. note: I’m not writing Leclaire off here. I’m just saying he’s played like shit.)
Although Eli could remain with the organization in some fashion consultant capacity for Cory Clouston, his tenure with the Senators likely ended when Bryan Murray pointed the finger of blame in his direction. And now that the blame game has started, don’t be surprised to see more people start pointing their fingers in Bryan Murray’s direction.