My theory, FWIW, is that an awesome coach can get you perhaps five more wins a year. An absolute donkey of a coach can cost you five wins. The rest of it, though, is largely pre-ordained by the roster you have. These guys are pros, not minor hockey players, so there is a lot less "teaching and preaching" at this level than most think. Scotty Bowman and Toe Blake couldn't have tag-teamed to save this season for the Senators, for all the reasons that have been outlined here - brutal goaltending, aging core players, injuries, etc.
My own view is that Clouston is a smart technical coach who knows the game inside and out, and is very prepared. Is he a warm fuzzy guy, beloved by the players? No, but neither was Bowman. In fact, a lot of the veterans hated Scotty. Again, this is the pros - whether or not you love your coach doesn't mean very much. If Clouston gets fired, it will be in the name of a "fresh start", and selling hope to the fans by bringing in a big name like Hitchcock. Blaming him for this disaster is ridiculous, IMO. Didn't "manage" the goalies properly? Spare me. Years from now, Leclaire and Elliott will be remembered as the worst 1-2 goalie combo in team history by a country mile. The only way to "manage" them was via trade or the waiver wire, which we finally did.
I don't think comparing Toe Blake or Scotty Bowman in any way shape or form has any relevance to Clouston. In Blake's days players did what they were told or were in the minors, there was no need for the people skills the NHL coach of today requires. The same applies to Scotty in his early career. Later in his career the players listened because he was a proven winner, and gave them the best opportunity to be winners themselves. Players want to win first and foremost, liking the coach is only important when they are losing.
Can Clouston be blamed for this? Well for anyone to think otherwise just knows little about a head coach's role.
Clouston decided on the game strategies, team line ups, who sat, who played, and it was his responsibility to communicate his decisions effectively. While it may not be solely his responsiblility when they lost, it was totally his responsibility his decisions alienated his players.
Murray referred to this concern at season's end last year, talking specifically about Clouston's handling of Leclaire. Murray said everyone needs to improve, not just the players, but the coaches as well, and that communication needed to improve.
Again, when Murray held his press conference for the Kovalev trade, he repeated the same sentiment about the coach needing to improve communication.
Clouston doesn't communicate effectively, it is no accident the media calls him the Little Dictator. His autocratic approach may work in Junior or to an extent in the AHL, but with not so with today's NHL players. Communication is not just about talking or giving orders, it is about listening and understanding, Clouston lacks in this area.
Clouston is responsible and will be held accountable.
If you are going to be a coach with an abrasive nature, who calls players out in public, etc., you don't need the love of your players, but you do need their respect. When you didn't play in the NHL and haven't coached there either, you have to earn it, not demand it. Even established hard-***** like Keanan and Hitchcock wear out their welcome, Clouston never had a welcome to wear out.
On tv not too long ago Claude Lemieux said that it is tough for a rookie coach to take over a team of veterans. I imagine it is a lot harder when they don't like you either.
Agree with your post, and with what Claude had to say. Put those two things together with a coach that doesn't communicate effectively and you have Clouston.