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Junior rivals joining forces as Senators assistants

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
In his fourth season as the team's head coach, Mark Reeds guided the Owen Sound Attack to the Ontario Hockey League's playoff crown and a berth in the Memorial Cup. Now he'll join the Senators as an assistant on the staff of new Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean (Photo by CHL Images).

Just a month ago, they were coaching rivals duelling for top honours in the Ontario Hockey League.

Now Dave Cameron and Mark Reeds have joined forces with the Ottawa Senators.

The Senators announced today that Cameron, who guided the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors to the OHL’s top regular-season record, and Reeds, whose Owen Sound Attack were the league’s playoff champs, have joined staff of new bench boss Paul MacLean as assistant coaches.

Luke Richardson remains on board as a part-time assistant, while Rick Wamsley returns for a second season as the organization’s goaltending coach. Video coach Tim Pattyson and conditioning coach Chris Schwarz round out the Ottawa staff.

For the newcomers, it's quite the pairing, especially considering just a few weeks back, their teams battled in the OHL final, then met again in the last game of the round-robin in Mississauga, Ont.

"In this business, you go head to head with a lot of guys and I have a lot of respect for Mark as a coach," Cameron said on a conference call with reporters when asked about teaming up with a former rival. "A couple times on the road the past couple of years, our teams crossed (paths) and we ended up staying at the same hotel.

"I’ve sat down with him over the years and had a cup of coffee, picked his brains a bit and we talked about different things we face in hockey now as coaches and some of the challenges we have and just exchanged information. He’s a class guy and a heck of a coach."

Said Reeds: "It was a very spirited seven-game series for the OHL title and we were fortunate in Game 7 to come through with an overtime victory. I’ve known Dave. We’ve talked quite often, we’ve spent some time together over the last four years ... it’ll be great to be able to actually sit down with him and have a chance to work with him."

Cameron, a native of Kinkora, P.E.I., also shares a Maritime background with MacLean, who hails from Antigonish, N.S. They were university hockey foes during their playing days — MacLean with Dalhousie in Halifax, Cameron with UPEI — and they've occasionally bumped into each other back home during the summer months.

"Any time you’re as old as us and you’re from the Maritimes ... you go back more than a few (years)," said Cameron. "I know him, I know his personality. I can’t say I know him in great depth but I certainly know him enough that I’m comfortable with being able to work with him."

At 52, it's Cameron's long-awaited first shot at an NHL job and something he doesn't take lightly.

"Every coach aspires to get to the National Hockey League," he said. "When you get older, you get a little mellower and you just realize that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, and you spend all your time concentrating on the day-to-day operations of the team you’re working with at the time. If it’s going to work out, it’s going to work out and fortunately, I’m getting an opportunity (in Ottawa) and I’m very humbled and very excited about it.

"When you get older, you get a little mellower and you just realize that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen ... fortunately, I’m getting an opportunity and I’m very humbled and very excited about it. Coming in there, I’m just looking forward to (being part of) what I hope is going to be a real good coaching team and finding ways to make the Ottawa Senators a winning organization." - Dave Cameron
"Coming in there, I’m just looking forward to (being part of) what I hope is going to be a real good coaching team and finding ways to make the Ottawa Senators a winning organization."

Both Cameron and Reeds bring impressive resumes to the job. The former took over a struggling Majors franchise four years ago and built it into an OHL powerhouse that posted a league-leading 53-13-2 record in 2010-11 and rolled through the playoffs until falling to the Attack in a dramatic seven-game final. The Majors also played host to the Memorial Cup and reached the championship game before falling to the No. 1-ranked Saint John Sea Dogs.

Cameron has extensive international coaching experience as well. He was head coach for Team Canada’s silver-medal winning entry at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, and was an assistant on the staff of the Canadian team that mined gold at the 2009 world juniors in Ottawa. He earlier directed Canada to a gold medal at the 2004 Under-18 Junior World Cup. Cameron also previously served as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Binghamton Senators for three seasons before taking over the Majors program.

Reeds, 51, was named the OHL’s coach of the year after guiding the Attack to the top mark in the Western Conference (46-17-5) and the playoff crown in his fourth season behind the Owen Sound bench. The Attack were eliminated in the Memorial Cup tiebreaker game by the Kootenay Ice.

Previously, the Toronto native spent 11 seasons as a bench boss in the minor pro ranks with the ECHL’s Peoria Rivermen and the United Hockey League’s Missouri River Otters and Kalamazoo Wings. He was a three-time UHL coach of the year including 2005-06, when the Wings won the Colonial Cup as playoff champions.

There is also a previous connection betweeen Reeds and MacLean. Both got their coaching starts with a Peoria entry in the older International Hockey League, with MacLean the bench boss and Reeds serving as his assistant. They also were part of a Central Hockey League championship Salt Lake Golden Eagles team as players in 1980-81

"I know Paul’s expectations are very high and my expectations are just as high for him," said Reeds. "We’d like to be able to turn the Ottawa Senators around and get them heading in the right direction. That’s what it’s all about, winning, and I’m very confident in Paul’s ability. And having the opportunity to work with a guy like Dave Cameron is going to be a tremendous asset to the team as well."

Senators general manager Bryan Murray likes the mix that MacLean has assembled.

"I'm really happy," Murray said in St. Paul, Minn., where he's preparing for this weekend's NHL entry draft. "Both Dave Cameron and Mark Reeds are regarded as top coaches in junior hockey. They’ve both had pro experience. They’ve both played and coached at a good level. Paul knows and speaks so highly of them."

The two Senators assistants are also former National Hockey League players — Cameron with the Colorado Rockies and New Jersey Devils (1981-84), and Reeds with the St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers (1981-89).

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