Paul MacLean, who won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year just two seasons ago, was fired Monday by the Ottawa Senators and replaced by assistant Dave Cameron, it was announced.
The news was released via the team's Twitter account and marked the first head-coaching change of the 2014-15 season. The Senators were off to an 11-11-5 start and are 10th in the Eastern Conference.
General manager Bryan Murray, speaking at a news conference Monday at Canadian Tire Centre, said Cameron, a favorite of owner Eugene Melnyk, will succeed MacLean.
"I've had some tough days lately," said Murray, who is undergoing cancer treatment. "This is one of them."
Murray said there was an "uneasiness" in the locker room with MacLean.
"Some of the better players felt that they were singled out a little too often maybe," Murray said. "That's today's athlete. They want to be corrected, coached, given a chance to play without being the center point of discussion in the room."
Cameron's first game behind the bench will be at home Thursday against the defending champion Los Angeles Kings.
MacLean, who previously worked as an assistant to Mike Babcock in Anaheim and Detroit, won the Jack Adams Award in the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season, when he led an injury-ravaged Senators team to the postseason despite long odds. The Senators, however, followed up with a disappointing 2013-14 campaign and missed the playoffs following the departure of longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson.
Defensive tactics by MacLean, who was in the first season of a three-year deal, allowed opponents easier entry into the defensive zone, leading to games in which the Senators were often outshot. Through 27 games, Ottawa has given up the second-most shots in the league behind only the Buffalo Sabres.
Murray, who broke the news to MacLean on Monday morning, said he had grown frustrated watching the team's careless play.
"We continue to be a big turnover team in our zone," Murray said. "Our goaltending has been, to say the least, outstanding most nights to give us a chance to win hockey games. The chances against our team are, some nights, atrocious. I think there's an obligation for a lot of people, the players included, to perform better than that. But the leader of the pack always is the coach."
The Senators are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the Canucks on Sunday night.
Cameron has extensive coaching experience at the Junior A and AHL levels, including coaching the 2011 Canadian world junior team.
"I think he'll relate a little bit to what we need here with some of our youth in particular," said Murray, who acknowledged that communication with MacLean had become a "one-way street."
"This sometimes happens when there's pressure on people, they're not as open to listen and take ideas and go back and forth in the communication part of it," he said. "Players today more than ever need and want that."
In parts of four seasons the Senators went 114-90-35 under MacLean, making the playoffs his first two seasons.
Murray said after last season he felt MacLean deserved a chance to redeem himself.
"I was really in his corner to come back," he said. "Sometimes you have a bad year."
Katie Strang and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com and The Assocated Press contributed to this report.