|Cory Clouston of the Ottawa Senators wears a special lavender tie to honour Hockey Fights Cancer Night during a game against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Place on October 23, 2010 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Back in the early 1990’s when I was in the play-by-play voice of the University of Alberta Golden Bears current Ottawa Senators Head Corey Clouston was a third line role player for Bears Head Coach Billy Moores.
The 1991-92 Golden Bears team that featured two defencemen in Ian Herbers and Cory Cross who both went on to play in the NHL, including a stint for each with the Oilers; and a 50 goal scorer from the WHL in Adam Morrison who was talented enough to have some scouts thinking he could have made the jump too.
Clouston certainly did not see a lot of time in the Bears top six; but he ended up being a huge factor in the 1992 CIS (then CIAU) National Championship semi-final game against the UQTR Patriotes.
The Patriotes coached by current Montreal Canadiens French Radio-Analyst Danny Dube had beaten the Bears 7-2 in the1991 University Cup Final despite being outshout 41-19.
Alberta was looking for revenge and did not let up on the #1 ranked Patriotes as Clouston sniped a hat-trick in a 9-1 shellacking.
The Golden Bears would go on to beat Acadia 5-2 en route to winning the National Championship.
Of all the guys that played on that team, Clouston might have been the last player I figured would go on to be an NHL Head Coach.
He was well-liked by his teammates but did not appear as serious or as driven as some of the other Golden Bears at that time. Clouston was the type of player who would bop around to Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun” as I recall in the pre-game warm-up; and a guy who once dropped a litany of words comedian George Carlin said you can’t say on TV in a live radio interview on CJSR after the Bears had claimed the Canada West crown that year.
What a difference a few years make…for all of us!
Clouston quickly transitioned into coaching starting out as an Assistant Coach with Powell River in 1994-95.
He then moved to the Grand Prairie Storm in the AJHL where he was named AJHL Coach of the Year in 1995-96.
I remember bumping into Clouston during the 1998-99 season at Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary after a Storm game and prior to a Bears game against the Dinos and suffice to say he was a completely different person.
|Head Coach Cory Clouston of the Ottawa Senators instructs his team during a break in the NHL game against the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center on March 25, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Hurricanes defeated the Senators 2-1. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) |
He was very intense and focused.
The Viking, Alberta native joined current Calgary Flames Assistant Coach Ryan McGill in Kootenay in the WHL to serve as his Assistant Coach for the 1999-2000.
When McGill left to become the Head Coach of the Hartford WolfPack of the AHL in 2002, Clouston was promoted to Head Coach of with the Ice and spent five seasons in that role winning a WHL Coach of the Year along the way and earning himself a reputation for having teams that were really committed to structure and process.
He was initially hired by the Senators organization in 2007 to be the Head Coach of their AHL affiliate Binghamton Senators, before being promoted to replace Craig Hartsburg on February 2nd, 2009; and helped turnaround a moribund Ottawa team going 19-11-4 in the final 34 games.
Last season the Sens won 44 games and made the play-offs; and as the Oilers get set to face Ottawa Monday Clouston will try to get his team back to .500.
To become a coach at the NHL level when you have not played in the “show” is a major accomplishment for anyone; to see Clouston’s rapid ascension to that level and his success in Ottawa certainly is a great story.
One that a know-it-all broadcaster could not have predicted 20 years ago!Other Stuff:
Clouston’s older brother Shaun is the current Head Coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, as he was promoted this past off-season after Willie Desjardins accepted a position with the Dallas Stars as an Associate Coach.
Shaun was a part of Clare Drake’s last University Cup winning team in 1985-86, and was drafted that season out of Alberta by the New York Rangers.
Edmonton Oilers Head Athletic Therapist T.D. Forss was also part of that 1991-92 Golden Bears Championship team, as Forss served as a Student Athletic Therapist for Moores that season.
And in the category of you never know who your equipment manager or trainer will turn it to be. Taylor Hall
’s father Steve played football for the Guelph in the early 1980’s and was drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos in 1983.
Hall’s equipment manager at that time was Tom Dimitroff, JR, the same Tom Dimitroff, JR who is now the General Manager of the Atlanta Falcons.Bob Stauffer is the Color Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Host of “Oilers Lunch” on the Team 1260, Monday thru Friday Noon until 2:00 PM.