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Are The Senators Interested In Kelly? What About Julien?



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Will the Ottawa Senators come calling to interview Boston Bruins assistant coach Chris Kelly for their head coaching job that’s about to open up?

This past December, with their team not even coming close to preseason expectations, the Bruins’ Atlantic Division rival fired head coach D.J. Smith and put in longtime NHL and former Senators bench boss Jacques Martin as their interim head coach. They also moved legendary Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson into the role of interim assistant coach. At the time of the coaching change (December 18), new Senators general manager Steve Staios stressed that the change was made to potentially save this season but, more importantly, evaluate what needs to change going forward.

Staios has since begun his search for a new head coach, and Bruins assistant coach Chris Kelly is starting to surface as a potential candidate to go back to Ottawa and coach the team that drafted him in the third round (94th overall) of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. On a recent episode of The Eye Test, co-host, longtime NHL analyst, and former Senators senior vice-president of player development Pierre McGuire said he believed that Kelly would be a ‘good choice’ to take over the Senators’ bench.

“Why not? I don’t know why that wouldn’t be a good choice,” McGuire said, replying to the Kelly rumors. “Kelly was a really good player, Stanley Cup champion. He’s learned a lot coaching in Boston. He’s learned a lot from different people, too.”



Kelly made his NHL debut as a player with the Senators in the 2003-04 season and then played six full seasons for the Senators before being traded to the Boston Bruins just prior to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. Kelly went on to become a key part of the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team and then spent the next five seasons with the team before returning to the Senators for the 2016-17 season. He would go on to finish his career with the Anaheim Ducks in the 2017-18 season.

Kelly then served as a Player Development Coordinator for the Senators for a season and in the same role for the Bruins the following season. The 43-year-old Toronto native is in his third season as an assistant coach for the Bruins, having served under current head coach Jim Montgomery for the last two seasons and then former Bruins and current Vegas Golden Knights bench boss Bruce Cassidy for a season before that.

McGuire also mentioned former Boston Bruins assistant coach and player John Gruden as a candidate for the Senators’ open coaching post but then dropped another key name with Bruins connections. McGuire knows the current player core for the Senators well and believes they need a no-nonsense head coach with plenty of experience.

“I don’t think they need that,” McGuire said. “I think they need someone that’s one and somebody that’s going to come in and kick the door in. There’s a lot of potential guys. …I know you’re not going to like this but why can’t Claude Julien go and be the coach there? You don’t think those guys would be petrified having him come in?”

Julien, who coached Kelly and won a Stanley Cup with him, is from the Ottawa area and is back living there now.

In a recent article on the Senators’ coaching search, longtime Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch listed Gruden, Todd McLellan (who was recently fired by the Los Angeles Kings), Dean Evason (who was recently fired by the Minnesota Wild), Craig Berube (who was recently fired by the St. Louis Blues), and former Senators captain and current Philadelphia Flyers assistant coach Brad Shaw as the Top 5 candidates. Garrioch did mention Kelly as another potential candidate but wondered if the former Senators alternate captain is ready to make the jump to a head coaching gig and if he’d want to do it with the Senators.

Garrioch did not suggest Julien, who is the winningest coach in Bruins’ history and last coached in the NHL in the 2020-21 season for the Montreal Canadiens.

Speaking at the recent NHL general managers meetings in Florida, Staios acknowledged that the coaching search is in full swing but did not mention any candidates.

“The process has started,” Staios told TSN NHL analyst and host Gino Reida. “We have a list of people. We want to be patient with our approach because things do change in the off-season. We want to make sure that we have all the information that’s afforded to us to make the decision on bringing in the best coach for this group at this point in time.”

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