In a season that was lost months ago, the Ottawa Senators, the worst team in the NHL, have fired coach Guy Boucher, the team announced Friday.
Assistant coach Marc Crawford was named as the team's interim coach.
With a gutted roster and a prolonged rebuild ahead, it was widely assumed that Boucher would not be offered a new contract, as his current one ran through the end of the season. But general manager Pierre Dorion stressed that the team needed a new voice behind the bench now.
"I want to thank Guy for his three years of service. He is a good person and has been an excellent representative of the Senators. At this point, however, we need a different set of coaching and leadership skills to guide our team through this rebuild," Dorion said. "In the interim, Marc will bring a different perspective along with a wealth of head-coaching experience."
Dorion further said the team would search for a new head coach in the offseason with the following, rather specific, attributes:
• A teacher who will focus on the development and growth of each player on the team
• A listener who encourages feedback from players and the coaching staff
• A communicator who lets every team member know where they stand and what is expected
• A tactician who brings structure and game planning that will enhance our rebuild
Crawford, a 58-year-old Stanley Cup-winning coach, is in his third season as a member of the Senators' coaching staff. With 18 seasons of NHL coaching experience, he has served as head coach for 1,151 games with stops in Quebec, Colorado, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Dallas.
He won the Stanley Cup with the 1995-96 Avalanche and was named NHL Coach of the Year in 1994-95.
Boucher was in his third year as Ottawa coach, with a 94-108-26 record. His trajectory with the Senators mimicked that of his first stint as a head coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning: getting his team to Game 7 of the conference finals in his first season, missing the playoffs in his second and getting fired in Year 3.
Of course, it wouldn't be the Senators without some level of dysfunction. Boucher was fired just one day after Dorion told the Ottawa Sun that a decision on his coach would happen after the season.
"Guy's job hasn't been easy in the last few weeks with everything going on, and I think he's handled it well," Dorion told the Sun.