Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Bryan Murray wanted Paul MacLean to prove him right and show everybody Ottawa's down year in 2013-14 was nothing more than an aberration.
Instead, MacLean only proved to his general manager that the Senators needed a new coach.
MacLean won the Jack Adams Trophy following the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, but less than 18 months later Murray realized he had no choice but to let go of his head coach.
However, it wasn't just missing the playoffs last season or the club's mediocre 11-11-5 start to 2014-15 that did in MacLean. Ottawa's GM also couldn't abide MacLean's inability to mesh with some of his players.
At first glance, MacLean could have been mistaken for a "players coach." He had an easygoing way with the media when the "Pesky Sens" made a run to the second round of the 2013 playoffs. It was easy to jump to the conclusion that MacLean had a similar rapport with his players, but Murray painted a different picture of the coach when he announced the firing on Monday.
Murray revealed locker room tension created by MacLean and a whole lot more when he met with the media to discuss the coaching change.
"There was an uneasiness in our room," Murray said. "Some of the better players felt they were singled out a little too often maybe."
The GM also agreed with a reporter who said "communication had become a one- way street" with MacLean at the helm, saying the fired coach was "not as open to listen and take ideas and go back and forth in the communication part."
MacLean's penchant for speaking a little too freely with the media at times also led to his downfall in Ottawa. In fact, comments MacLean made Saturday may have hastened his demise with the Senators.
Speaking to TSN's Chris Cuthbert before Saturday's game in Pittsburgh, MacLean made some disparaging remarks about his own club when asked if he'd be more worried about facing the Penguins when Sidney Crosby was on a hot streak, or if he was struggling.
"All I know is I'm scared to death no matter who we're playing," MacLean said. "Whether it's Sidney Crosby or John Tavares or the Sedins, I go day-by-day and I'm just scared to death every day of who we're playing.
"And sometimes," MacLean added. "I'm scared to death of who I'm playing."
Anybody who has paid attention to MacLean's public comments since he began as a rookie head coach with the Sens in 2011-12, knows he can wield a wicked sense of humor. It's possible MacLean's comments to Cuthbert may have been an attempt at gallows humor made by a guy who knew his job was at stake.
Whether MacLean was joking or not, Murray took the statement to heart. And how could he do otherwise? After all, taking a shot at the quality of players in Ottawa is pretty much the same thing as criticizing the GM himself.
"The fact that he makes statements that 'I'm afraid who I put on the ice' type of thing, that kind of sent a loud message to me that, whether it was in jest or otherwise, that maybe he didn't believe in the group the way we thought we believed in the group when we started the year," said Murray.
Of course, Murray also gave on-ice reasons for firing MacLean. Ottawa's defensive positioning and the club's problems with turning the puck over are the GM's biggest concerns, and something he tasked new head coach Dave Cameron with fixing.
Like MacLean before him, Cameron will get his first crack at an NHL head coaching job in Ottawa. However, instead of being impatient with the Senators and insulting them when things don't go well, Murray is hoping Cameron will help the inexperienced Senators grow into a winning NHL team.
"I don't know if he's a players' coach or a demanding coach," Murray said of Cameron. "[But] I do know that he's a teacher."
For Cameron's sake, let's hope he's a learner too. While serving as an assistant under MacLean over the last few seasons, Cameron knows all about the things his predecessor did to lose favor in Ottawa. If Cameron can avoid the same mistakes, there's a chance both he and the Sens will be better off because of it.