Skip to main content


Report: Candidates emerge in Senators’ coaching search

Steve Staios Ottawa Senators Steve Staios -

The Ottawa Senators are ramping up their search for a new head coach, according to Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch.

Garrioch reports Senators general manager Steve Staios has met face-to-face or has plans to meet with at least three coaching candidates, including former Minnesota Wild head coach Dean Evason and ex-St. Louis Blues bench boss Craig Berube.

Garrioch adds it’s believed in league circles Ottawa has had talks with former Los Angeles Kings coach Todd McLellan as well, but that has yet to be confirmed.

All three candidates were fired from their respective NHL teams during the 2023-24 season.

“We have spoken to a couple of people. We have a longer list,” Staios said last week at his season-ending media availability. “I think making sure we take the appropriate amount of time to be able to look at everybody that may be available is important.”

Staios said he isn’t sure when Ottawa will officially hire a new coach. 

“If some of these conversations move along more briskly, and we feel comfortable that they’re checking the boxes to be our next head coach of the Ottawa Senators, we would move on it,” he said.

“It’s hard to tell from a timing perspective.”

The Sens fired D.J. Smith on Dec. 18 and replaced him with Jacques Martin on an interim basis for the remainder of the season. The team announced last week Martin would move back into an advisory role going forward.

Staios also told reporters that assistant coach Daniel Alfredsson would not be a candidate for Ottawa’s head job and added the beloved franchise icon told him he believes more development is needed should he continue down the coaching path.

In addition to Evason, Berube and McLellan, Garrioch adds the Sens also have their eye on Philadelphia Flyers associate coach Brad Shaw and Toronto Marlies head coach John Gruden.
Should Gruden not land as Senators’ head coach, the sense is he will be offered a spot on the Sens’ staff, though Garrioch writes Gruden’s primary focus at the moment is on the Marlies’ playoff series against the Belleville Senators, the AHL-affiliate of the Senators.

Evason went 5-10-4 with the Wild before being let go in November. Garrioch reports he has one year remaining on his deal with Minnesota at a tad under $2 million.

Berube, 58 and a former Stanley Cup winner with the Blues in 2019, was fired by the Blues in December after a 13-14-1 start. According to Garrioch, there is talk he wants to see what happens in some of the league’s other potential coaching hotspots. The same could apply to McLellan, who departed the Kings 23-15-10 on Feb. 2 and has two years remaining on his contract in the range of $5 million.

Ottawa closed out the regular season at 37-41-4, finishing seventh in the Atlantic Division with 78 points. The Sens have missed the playoffs in seven straight seasons since coming within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2017.