No Talks With Carkner & Clouston Fallout

As an impending free agent, it’s not particularly surprising to learn from Bruce Garrioch that management has not had contractual negotiations with defenceman Matt Carkner’s representatives.

In light of the knee injuries that limited Carks to 29 games this season, coupled with the assumed readiness of defensive prospects like Mark Borowiecki or even Eric Gryba, the Senators have a few inexpensive alternatives who project as bottom pairing guys.

This isn’t to say that negotiatons between Carkner and the Senators won’t take place. With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft five weeks away, it’s likely that much of management’s attention is being devoted to its draft preparation and exploring the trade market.

Much will inevitably be made of the role and the likable character traits that Carkner provides, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, the Senators aren’t hamstrung to retain more depth defencemen. With the impending loss of Filip Kuba to unrestricted free agency and with one year left on Sergei Gonchar’s contract, there should be a concerted effort to address the blue line’s top four defencemen. Whether that’s through a trade, free agency or the draft itself, as an impending unrestricted free agent who has had the season that he did, management can afford to exhaust all options before having to make a decision on the Winchester native.

And as a player who has enjoyed his time playing for his hometown team, it’s probably fair to assume that Carkner will give the Senators an opportunity to retain his services before making the decision to move on to another organization.

Clouston Fallout

In a shocking revelation, okay not so much, former Senators head Cory Clouston was fired by the Brandon Wheat Kings for his… wait for it… ability to communicate and develop rapports with his players.

Thanks to things like the constant indirect references by management to how effective Paul MacLean’s communication skills have been or last season’s awkward video of Clouston telling Karlsson that he was Ottawa’s representative for the 2011 All-Star Game, fans in Ottawa quickly became familiarized with Clouston’s shortcomings.

In Brandon this year, apparently things weren’t much different.

According to an article written by Yahoo! Sports‘ Neate Sager, Wheat Kings play-by-play announcer Bruce Luebke said there was a clear schism within the team.

The hard-driving coaching style employed by Clouston was looked upon with disdain by the players, and his treatment of the players, especially the younger players, became such an issue that sources told me that team captain Mark Stone met with GM Kelly McCrimmon midway through the season to discuss the matter.

… An observation during the post-season for me came in the post-season, when I had a chance to watch the Wheat Kings’ opponents (Calgary and Edmonton) practice, something not often afforded during the regular season.

Those teams ran high-tempo practices with coaching staffs that worked in sync with one another — two things lacking during Brandon’s practices.

Bottom line, Cory Clouston might be good with the X’s and O’s of the game, but his motivational techniques and personality might be in conflict with what’s effective in this day and age of hockey.

As team captain, it’s surreal to read that Stone had the leadership and courage to speak out against Clouston; even though as a 20 year old, he would not be returning to junior and his teammates next season. Who knew that Ottawa’s rookie development camp could also help him develop these anti-Clouston skills?

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