|Brad Lauer (right), whose 16-year pro career included a brief stint with the Senators, is returning to Ottawa as an assistant to head coach Cory Clouston (Photo by Glenn Cratty/Getty Images).
Cory Clouston believes he's found just the right man to join him on the Ottawa Senators bench.
Let's just say he'd be hard-pressed to have found a more familiar, comfortable hire.
The Senators announced earlier today that Lauer has been added to a staff that also includes assistant coach Greg Carvel, goaltending coach Eli Wilson and video coach Tim Pattyson. Luke Richardson is also being retained by the organization as a part-time coach.
Lauer's hiring brings about a reunion of sorts on two fronts. He spent 30 games with the Senators in the 1993-94 season and, after his playing days were done, got his start into coaching as Clouston's assistant with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League. During five seasons together there (2002-03 to 2006-07), they produced a .638 winning percentage, including two 100-plus point seasons and a trio of 40-win campaigns.
"This is another step forward for the organization," said Clouston. "I'm real happy and excited that Brad is on board. He brings a lot of experience in a lot of different ways." (mp3.file)
Back during his brief stint with the Senators, Lauer never imagined he'd someday return to the organization in a coaching capacity (mp3.file)
"At that time, I didn't know I wanted to get into coaching," said Lauer, who spent the last two seasons as Lane Lambert's assistant with the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals, the top farm team of the Nashville Predators. "As my career went along and as I got older... you tend to want to know where you're going. I got handed assistant coaching roles and player-assistant coaching stuff and I enjoyed it.
"I enjoyed working with the kids and the guys toward the end of my career. So that kind of made my choice that I wanted to pursue this. That's one of the reasons I went back to the Western Hockey League (where he formerly played for the Regina Pats), just to get to know the kids and the next generation coming up. The last couple of years, I got to understand the pro side of the game."
That game that, Lambert admits, has changed greatly since his playing days ended. Over 16 years, he suited up for the Senators, New York Islanders (the team that drafted him into the NHL in 1985), Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins, along with 13 seasons of service in the American and International leagues.
"It's a business now," said Lauer, a 42-year-old native of Humboldt, Sask. "Just the kids Cory and I had in junior alone... they have strength and conditioning coaches and agents. They know what they want at a young age and they're sponges. They want to learn and get better.
"I was wondering what the guys would be like at the (minor) pro level, but there wasn't a lot of difference. They want to learn, they want to develop and they want to move up. I don't know if the dedication and commitment were there 15 years ago like it is with the guys now."
Clouston considers that type of player's perspective a vital addition for his coaching staff (mp3.file)
"It's very important," he said. "I never played in the NHL and I relied on Brad's experience as a player over the five years that we worked together (with Kootenay) and I'm going to do that in the future here. That type of insight is very important. Brad played for a lot of different coaches and he was up and down between the minors and the NHL. That experience alone is invaluable to our guys.
"As my career went along and as I got older... you tend to want to know where you're going. I got handed assistant coaching roles and player-assistant coaching stuff and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed working with the kids and the guys toward the end of my career. So that kind of made my choice that I wanted to pursue this." - Brad Lauer
"He can look at things from a player's perspective and over the past seven years, Brad has transitioned into becoming a very good coach. He's been able to amalgamate both. He's learned the game from a different perspective as a coach and he's used his experience as a player to make himself a very good assistant coach."
The organization also hopes to make use of the experience of Richardson, who ended his 20-year NHL career as a Senator last fall. While he spent the rest of the season working with the Senators coaching staff, family commitments will limit Richardson's time with Ottawa in the season ahead.
"I loved what he brought to the team last year," said Clouston. "Just to have Luke involved is a real big plus for the organization. He's a leader and he's going to be working with our defencemen as much as we can possibly use him. I think there's an opportunity for him to go down to Binghamton (the Sens' AHL affiliate). We've got some very good young defencemen there and we want to make sure their development is progressing and moving along."
The Senators also announced today that conditioning coach Chris Schwarz and assistant athletic therapist Dom Nicoletta have been added to the team's training staff.