Puppet Master

When Paul MacLean was named head coach of the Ottawa Senators, many people felt he was put in place to take a lot of heat. The team seemed to be in rebuilding mode. Many young players would be in the lineup. Winning seasons did not seem to be right in the future.

He took that team into the playoffs last year and has done it again this year. They play very well as a team. They are an organized group of five players on the ice.

Even this year when the team suffered major injuries, Paul MacLean kept them from drowning. When most teams lose their stud defenceman (Karlsson) and top center (Spezza) their ship sinks. Somehow MacLean kept them going and got them into the playoffs.

He is a character. He always seems to have a funny line for the media or a quick one liner. He has a big bushy mustache and a unique look. I would think the players really like playing for him and it shows on the ice.


My producer Marc Majeau put it best I think. He is the Columbo of hockey coaches.

At times he may look or act like he doesn’t know what is going on but the opposite is the truth. He is very shrewd and is playing the Canadians like a puppet master players the strings of his favorite doll. I love how he has got all of the Canadians rattled!

When Eric Gryba hit Montreal’s Lars Eller (a hit I think that was totally legal), Paul MacLean played it perfectly. In his news conference he referred to Raphael Diaz, the Habs player who passed the puck as, "#61". He said the hit was legal and really just stirred up the Habs.

They took the bait. Of course they are going to come to the defence of one of their injured teammates in the media but I think they got distracted. Brandon Prust referred to MacLean as a "Bug eyed, fat walrus."

They next thing you know MacLean is talking about that to the media when asked. Although it may seem that he was caught off guard, I guarantee he was ready for the question and had his answer ready. Just another way to help the Habs gets distracted.

The topper for me came in Sunday night’s game. Paul calls a timeout with seventeen seconds left! What a prick move to do. The Sens were killing the Habs and it was just delaying the inevitable.

MacLean did it to throw the Habs off their game even more. There had been a lot of fights before this point and he knew emotions were running high. Calling a timeout in that situation is uncalled for and quite honestly just wrong. But by doing it he got what he wanted, another response from an emotional head coach of the Habs, Michelle Therien.

He was losing it. Therrien kept looking over at the Sens bench, getting madder by the second. In his post-game scrum, Therrien made it clear that he did not respect that timeout call. I don’t blame him, I would have been upset as well. The problem for Therrien is that this is all organized by the Puppet Master, Paul MacLean.

MacLean wants the Habs to lose focus. After the puck drops, Josh Gorges tries to shoot the puck at a Sens player. Gorges is one of the leaders of that team. If he is rattled how do you think the rest of the team feels?

The challenge for the Canadians is to refocus. This series is far from over. There are down by one game in a best of seven, long ways to go. But how should or can the Habs regroup.

It starts with head coach Therrien. If I were him I would have sat down with my team today and discussed how the game ended. The brawl and fights wouldn’t have been my issue. I would have discussed out team’s reaction to the time out and the hit on Eller.

He needs to regain control of the team. Letting out frustration with some fights and dirty play isn’t the end of the world. It might even relax the guys. But now Therrien needs to make them understand that this is the playoffs and both coaches and players can’t lose sight of their goal, winning the series.

The veterans in the room like Gionta, Moen and Ryder need to have a similar discussion with their teammates. Do not react to what the Sens are doing. Initiate and make them react to us. Simple to say and harder to do.

I understand the response by the Habs. At this point in the year it just won’t win you games by getting so rattled. They need to refocus in a hurry or in less than a week they will have lots of time to focus about their mistakes in during the summer.

Lets get physical

Wow. If you have not been watching the series between the Blues and Kings you have been missing some great hockey. They are pounding each other into the ground. If I am the winning coach heading into the next round I am really wondering what my team has left in the tank. This one will go seven games, won’t be much time to rest.

I hope it goes seven!


Don’t forget to play StreakCred the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. You can win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest in Germany among the awesome prizes up for grabs. Only $20 and a portion of the proceeds go to Edmonton Charities. Sign up here.

I am playing almost every game but so far I can only get a streak of two games going! It is harder then it seems!

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  • oilman3

    i think he is probably a very good coach, but the time out call could just add unnecessary fuel to the fire and give the canadiens something to rally around. i’m really hoping the canadiens can rebound tonight. i have to say i am still pissed watching anderson dominate in net game after game and wondering why the heck we didn’t go after him instead of khabby.

    • OilLeak

      Great Article Struds.

      I loved the timeout, Paul Maclean keeps his cool, while pushing the buttons of Therrien (who is a ticking time bomb even without provocation). Maclean knows Therrien has a quick temper and and is exploiting that weakness and Therrien in his blind rage refuses to see that. Another Bonus, Therrien looks like an absolute madman in the media now, directing even more of the attention from the Sens players; brilliant.

      I didn’t have much interest in this series going in to the playoffs, but now it’s the one I’m looking forward to the most.

  • Eddie Shore

    Normally I would agree with you Jason but the way Therrien allowed his players to act was embarassing so the timeout actually dis not bother me at all.

    Also, as someone who doesn’t watch alot of PK Subban, the way he acted in this game was a real eye opener for me. With all the rumours about this guy he generally gets the benefit of the doubt but I am beginning to think where there’s smoke, there might be fire.

  • Muji

    How the hell did Rene Bourque, PK Subban, and others avoid suspensions/fines for their actions in Game 3?

    This is the same Rene Bourque who was suspended for 5 games for elbowing and injuring Niklas Backstrom a year ago. This is the same leaque that suspended Eric Gryba 2 playoff games for an (obviously) clean hit.

    I’m usually not one to complain about the NHL’s wheel of justice – Shanny has a hard job – but they are SO wrong here. They don’t care about player safety.

    Btw, I love the time out call. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I remember, it was either 1997 or 1998 and probably both, when The Oilers played The Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs, the away bench in Denver was shorter and especially narrower than the home bench. It made a tight squeeze for the players on the bench.

      The Oilers modified their away bench to be narrower so that The Avalanche would be as uncomfortable playing away as The Oilers were.

      Loved it.

  • vetinari

    Have to agree that the time out was a jerky move on MacLean’s part but… I think that it was partly payback for Prust’s “bug eyed, fat walrus” comment. Of course, it could backfire and motivate the heck out of Montreal.

  • Muji

    Absolutely disgusting display by the vile Habs. The NHL is bush league and extremely biased. Therrien and several of the Montreal players should have been suspended immediately for being goons out to injure.

  • Muji

    Like Garry Galley correctly pointed out, I would have called a time out and drawn up a power play too if I were Maclean. I say keep lighting the punks up if they keep taking cheap shots at my players.

  • 106 and 106

    Pure coaching genius – his team’s ability to not crumple all season is inspiring…. And Alfredsson playing D at the end of last game? Priceless! Ol’ time hockey!

  • Muji

    Hmmmm. Switch from Habs to Oilers.
    Rather love to see how Krueger would have reacted to the `puppet master`s` little tricks.
    Oh wait, the Oilers haven`t made the playoffs in 7 years.

  • 106 and 106

    Struds you are bang on the mark with Mclean. THis guy ihas far more grey matter than most people give him credit for.

    He is not an motivational speaker……..we know how over rated that skill set is, but his team always shows up and plays within his system, even down their two biggest stars.

    Maybe we should be looking closer to his system and import it to our team?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I did because I do.
      I’m an old guy that still gets frustrated that the Omniplex was kiboshed.

      Get an arena where you can walk somewhere without having to stand in line.

      Let’s get ‘er done. Revitalize downtown and pull in some tax dollars!!

  • 106 and 106

    I agree Struds, The Canadiens and their obnoxious fanbase are being played by a master. Maclean is a genius especially with his unsubtle tactics against Therrien. Maclean knows that Therrien is like a hardboiled egg in a microwave…any second …POW!
    In fact Maclean should hire that old Nordiques coach Bergeron to sit behind the bench with him…classic Hockey!

  • Wax Man Riley

    Maybe we can make a trade that sticks this time with Ottawa . Example ; Spezza (7M – for 2 years ) and C.Neil ( 1.9M for next four years ). We give them Horcoff and our first round pick ,or swap position if we are that fortunate . Spezza cap hit is 7M for 2 years , but actual salary 5m and 4m respectively .

  • I just got back from the Jason Strudwick show at Rexall. What a silky voice. If I would have won the 50/50, I would have signed you to a contract on the spot. Beauty rendition of Sweet Caroline.

  • Mikey: In all honesty, I was surprised how good Yukon sang, all things considered. Strudy gave chills through my spine early on… or maybe those were cringes.. I’m not sure. But the performance was entertaining, and typically funny.

    If Yukon did some James Brown moves, that might have helped sway my vote.

    Anyways, looks like there is some vid up. Funny stuff:

    I seem to remember Yukon sounding better live.. lol

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    I would be pissed off about the timeout if it happened to us, but really? This walarus is my hero. He’s playing the Habs like a fiddle. I doubt any one of us would have anything but praise for him if he pulled the same stunt while blowing out say the Canucks.

    Canucks are out! Today is a great day!

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    I liked the articel but I have noticed that Jason Strudwick is not really interested in engaging with his readers……….on any of the articles that he writes.

    I have made this observation over time and as such will no longer read his articles or respond to them.

    Bye Jason………and I would encourage you to stop writing, stick to radio.

    • #ThereGoesTheOilers

      Jason I enjoy your writing. I will continue to read your inside perspectives on this crazy game.

      Rama Lama I hope you change your mind. I also enjoy your often insightful comments.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    “Do not react to what the Sens are doing. Initiate and make them react to us. Simple to say and harder to do.”

    Jason you are talking about dynamic tactical managment and there are only two ways to catalyse that,one is Intuitive and one is statistical.You arent being clear which one you are dealing with here man.

    If you use an Intuitive Dynamic Analysis and Managment perspective it is simple to do and harder to say. You can make a few small adjustments and attain a dominant result.

    If you use a statistical influence to manage your system read and reacts it will be simple to say and harder to do.You can make core systemic adjustments repeatedly in a reactionary manner and not attain dominant results.

    One method is handsoff and one is labor intensive.Jason you only know the labor intensive method,same as the Oilers managment team.

    The sequence of events you just described is called a “Tactical Dynamic Template” within the NewAge Hockey Systems philosophys.The TDT isnt random,and it isnt hard to manage if you understand it properly or have a good teacher.

    If you want to learn more about the NewAge Hockey System and its history Jason feel free to ask.I would get a real kick out of watching your face as you go over 3 years worth of game day Threads and Game Day Blog posts because you as an ex-NHLer will not be able to miss the facts as they stand,when you see the NHS data being posted and then immediatly and identiclly incorporated on the ice you will be shell-shocked,no doubt about it pal.The only question is wether or not you have the cojones to stand up and say it like it is or if you will refuse to validate the dynamic templates you will be seeing.Your old team needs the NHS more than the NHS needs it.

    You like to write and you like to get involved in things,why dont you become a conspiracy theorist and a documentary producer for a while and walk with me man.
    Three years ago I created the NewAge Hockey System for the Oilers and they have utilised the data but still havent embraced fully or officially it or validated its source despite the fact that they and other NHL teams who are emulating the Oilers own NHS influenced tactics and implementing them into their own systems are proof of influence.

    If I post specific detailed read and reacts online in a paralell manner to the Oilers coaches and it turns out that my calls and adjustments would have produced consistantly superior results,then your hockey acumen will immediatly know this to be fact,i would go so far as to say that it would be undeniable to you at that point.If I can consistantly out perform the coaching staff and then lead them to incorporate my data into their own execution in realtime via my online posts being communicated live to the Oilers staff,and I can do this consistantly for an extended period of time say 3 years,ha ha ha,then Jason my man you will dam well know it. If I can show you how these same exact NHS influences propelled LA to win the Cup,Jason your Honest Eddy arse will know it.What will you want to do then Jason?

    Jump onboard,the NHS Express at the grassroots level,all you need to see is positive results documented in chronological order combined with a solid dose of professional and personal integrity,then you can fully support and endorse the NHS. I am not abject to teamwork,the NHS can and is standing on its own,but with a focused team effort by a handfull of people we can do some damage league wide.

    Jason just so you are aware there is no possibility that my read and reacts will just be due to luck or regular hockey plays,I am ultra-specific in my posts and adjustments down to feet and sometimes strides,and exact zone placements and specific and sequenced playactions that are part of an original NewAge Hockey System catalysed Tactical Dynamic template or TDT that I create and implement on the fly.When the data is transferred and implemented it is like majic man and you will immediatly recognise the sequences and be as amazed as I was at first at the impact the NHS has on system potential and optimisation.Your hockey senses will be going off like fireworks because I will have you so far ahead of the developing playaction in realtime while the pro coaches struggle and sink that your head will spin.

    Take a look Jason,it might be worth it.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    Maybe someone ought to ask Dougie Weight what he learned while watching last years playoffs that he incorporated into his system execution this year,because he is currently about to dismantle the Penguins in the first round and then take the Isles to the finals,take a close look at the things he is doing ,look at how he is managing his system dynamiclly on the fly and how that is ripping the Pens apart.Oiler fans should recognise the explosive offense after all it is exactly like ours when we use the same adjustments Dougie is useing,the NHS adjustments,the DYNAMIC MANAGMENT adjustments.The Isles cannot be out coached using this systemic influence and Sidney cannot bust the system on his own nor can Malkin.

    The Isles are this years Kings and for the exact same reasons and NHS influences.The Blues are feeding the Kings the same NHS influences and locking them in a system checkmate because many teams are now embracing the influences.

    Watch the final game in the Isles series when the Pens try to kick it up a notch offensively,it will be a disaster and they will be steamrolled by the Islanders dynamic read and reacts.Like last game.Because the Pens dont understand how the Islanders are generating so much terminal offense they cannot stop it,they will tighten up their defense and the damage will get exponentially worse–if they open up the same thing will happen like last game,this NHS influence began to spread from the Western Conference 3 years ago starting with the Oilers where I posted the data.The Pens must be wondering how the hell the islanders always seem to be in the right places at the right times,just before they can recognise the playaction,this is usually the seat the Pens are in,ha ha hah a ha.

    Gagner got to know Sidney over last summer and I am a fan of Sams,maybe he is willing to give Sid a ring and let him know about the NHS,I am willing to work on a game to game basis as an Intuitive Dynamic Consultant,a Dynamic Hitman so to speak.I could shut down the Isles or the Kings or any system using the NHS.

    I will need to log onto the next Isles game GDT to ride shotgun for Dougie,I am biased at this point as old loyalties run deep.