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Ottawa Senators name former Detroit assistant Paul MacLean new head coach

OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators have a new coach, and with him, a new philosophy.

The team named Paul MacLean as its new head coach Tuesday and the 53-year-old made it immediately clear how he plans on running things in the nation's capital.

"I think it's important in the NHL today that the coach and players communicate," MacLean told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa. "Communication with the players is important in empowering them and having them invest in what you're trying to do and what you're trying to accomplish.

"It's not me against them, it's us — the Ottawa Senators — against the rest of the league."

The Senators fired Cory Clouston and two assistants in April after the team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

Clouston was criticized throughout his tenure with the Senators for being too hard on his players and too rigid in his systems.

"After a poor season, the need for change was obvious," general manager Bryan Murray said. "I felt Paul fit the profile (of what the Senators need behind the bench). He'd been a player, been a head coach, been an assistant coach in the National Hockey League. He's been a winner everywhere he's been.

"I think he brings energy, experience, expertise and people skills, most importantly."

MacLean spent the past five years as an assistant in Detroit, helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 2008. He and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock also worked together for two years in Anaheim, taking the Ducks to the Stanley Cup final in 2003 when Murray was the team's GM.

"I believe the National Hockey League is a fast and physical league and the game needs to be played that way," MacLean said. "You have to be able to skate the whole rink, so we're going to skate the rink, play good defence, but we're going to attack the net and make sure we're putting pressure on the opposition."

MacLean spent 11 seasons in the NHL, playing in 719 games for Winnipeg, Detroit and St. Louis from 1980-91. He finished with 324 goals and 349 assists.

MacLean is the fourth head coach to serve under Murray in Ottawa.

Clouston, John Paddock and Craig Hartsburg have all been handed their walking papers.

Murray took over from the fired Paddock behind the Ottawa bench in 2006-07 and led the Senators to the Stanley Cup final, where they lost to Anaheim in five games.

"Paul represents a big part of the change we needed to bring to our hockey club," Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in a statement. "The fact is we are a very different looking hockey team compared to a year ago. Bryan and I agreed it was important for him to bring in someone who is a solid communicator, can easily build a strong rapport with our players and has a proven track record of winning NHL games and Stanley Cups."