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Carvel at home working in Ottawa

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators
Often after practices, Greg Carvel will work on faceoffs with players such as Dany Heatley, left, and Chris Kelly. Photo: T. Anderson/OSHC

by Todd Anderson

A former assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks, Greg Carvel was asked by former Ducks general manager Bryan Murray to join him in Ottawa after the latter was hired as the Senators' head coach in June 2004. Carvel couldn't believe it.

"It was a real honour and surprise," Carvel says. "I thought he was pulling my leg. It's exciting to work in Ottawa because I grew up about an hour and a half from here in Canton, N.Y."

Continuing to work with Murray has also made the move enjoyable.

"Bryan is an excellent head coach because he delegates responsibility," says the 36-year-old Carvel. "He trusts you to do your job well. All you can ask for is to be given a chance to do your best."

During Senators games, Carvel acts as the eyes in the sky for the coaching staff.

"I sit upstairs for the first and second periods and talk back and forth (through a headset with fellow assistant coach) John Paddock. I share what I see from our team, and the other team, and how we can adjust. A lot of what I do upstairs is looking how to adjust special teams."

Carvel joins Murray and Paddock on the bench for the third period.

"We already have a good grasp of what the other team is doing and it's a good education for me to be on the bench," Carvel says.

Before the game has even started, the St. Lawrence University grad, who earned a bachelor's degree in political science and mathematics in 1993 at the school and then his master's degree in sports management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1996, already has a strong idea of what to expect from the opposition.

"I watch two or three of their previous games," he says. "I look for their tendencies and line combinations to help us figure out matchups. I also look at how they work the power play and how they kill penalties."

At practice, Carvel organizes the first five to 10 minutes to warm up the players. When practice is over, he often sticks around to work with the younger players, or skate with injured players.

"He's been great," sophomore forward Chris Kelly says. "Not many coaches make themselves available like that. On the PK (penalty kill), he helped Antoine (Vermette) and I a lot. He's the key reason why we had success."

After the Senators were eliminated by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round of last year's Stanley Cup playoffs, Carvel continued to watch the other games on television. He noticed a common theme among the remaining teams.

"You really have to have a system built," he says. "It has to be something the whole team is into. Everything has to be done with speed and nobody can take shortcuts. We have to have more of a warrior attitude in our players.

"We had the opportunity of being up by three or four goals a lot last season. There's nothing wrong with that but we want to be a team that when we're up one goal, down one goal or tied, we're confident that we'll find a way to win."

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