In light of the recent list of coaching candidates that GM Joe Nieuwendyk has contacted (or those that have contacted him) we have a couple of late entries into the coaching candidate series and we'll start with former Ottawa Senator coach Cory Clouston.
Playing Career: 1989 - 1993 (college)
Coaching Career: 1994 - present
Playing Career: Mr. Clouston played hockey for the University of Alberta from 1989 to 1993 while he earned a degree in "recreation administration" and then took his first coaching job immediately following that in 1994, painting a pretty clear picture: The guy was always going to get into coaching and forgo trying to make it as a professional hockey player.
Coaching Career: He started fresh out of college in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League and the Alberta Junior Hockey League before making it to major juniors in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice as an assistant, eventually becoming their head coach and winning WHL and CHL coach of the year honors along the way. He also coached the Canadian U18 Junior team to a gold medal in 2006.
He would go on to join the Binghamton Senators of the AHL in 2007 and then just two short years later was promoted to head coach of the Ottawa Senators of the NHL (kind of like Glen Gulutzan is hoping to do, perhaps...).
His time with the Sens was marked with early success and then a first round exit to Pittsburgh in 2010 that only served to raise expectations for this last season, and that's where things went south. With a strong core group of players and fans and ownership alike expecting more his team struggled mightily out of the gate and the result was a selling off of assets (like Mike Fisher) mid-season and a triggered rebuilding process.
When the season was over he had to go, because as the Ottawa media said, someone needed to have the finger pointed at them for such a disastrous season. The situation is mildly akin to Dave Tippett's firing the season following the Stars trip to the WCF in 2008 and raised expectations.
How He Fits: Style of play is the plus here. He was supposedly brought into Ottawa to change their game to a bit more up-tempo pace and scheme, which is what GM Joe Nieuwendyk supposedly favors and why Marc Crawford was brought in. He's a young coach who climbed the ladder quickly and has had success at nearly every stop along the way. Uneven goaltending and injuries were partially to blame for his team's flame-out last year and he motivated a young roster to finish the season strong rather than just play out the string once the veterans were unloaded.
How he doesn't fit: The Senators goals per game saw a decrease in each of his three seasons there and the power play was an issue throughout, going an anemic 16.9% and 17.5% the last two seasons, and that's an area in which the Stars need immediate improvement. The year he took the Sens to the playoffs they had a negative GF - GA differential. Some Sens blogs and media seem to indicate a lack of personableness with his players, something Dallas just had with Marc Crawford. Most of the analysis out there says that Clouston's Sens teams competed at a high level at various times during his tenure, but never when the pressure was high.
He had less than three seasons to prove what he can do and he had to deal with the Dany Heatley departure (Heatley cited Clouston as a reason for his trade request). His NHL resume seems incomplete at this point. Can Joe Nieuwendyk take a chance here on a young guy with something to prove?