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Dorion says decision on future of Sens coaching staff not expected until April

OTTAWA — Pierre Dorion knows changes need to be made, but the Ottawa Senators general manager won't rush into any decisions concerning the future of team's coaching staff.

Dorion made it clear the status quo is not acceptable Thursday morning in a post-mortem on Ottawa's disappointing season. The future of head coach Guy Boucher and his staff remains unknown as Dorion said a complete evaluation is underway from top to bottom.

But Dorion said a decision on Boucher is unlikely to be made until after the draft lottery in late April.

Dorion said he believes Boucher is still a very good coach, but there are areas that need to be improved after a 30th-overall finish.

Two specific areas Dorion mentioned were better implementation of younger players into the lineup and less days off from practice.

"'Rest is a weapon' — if I hear that one more time I'll go crazy," Dorion said.

Dorion said players blamed themselves in exit meetings, but he believes accountability needs to come at every level.

"This year we found too many excuses, we've got to move forward from that."

This will be a crucial off-season for Dorion and the Senators.

Erik Karlsson is heading into the final year of his contract and negotiations on an extension can begin July 1. Dorion has already said they will offer their captain an eight-year deal, but the question remains whether or not they will be able to offer enough money to entice the 27-year-old to stay.

Karlsson said earlier this season that he wouldn't take a hometown discount, but Dorion said he has the budget he needs.

Forward Matt Duchene is also headed into the last year of his deal and has made it clear he wants to win a Stanley Cup.  In addition, the Senators have to deal with restricted free agents Mark Stone and Cody Ceci.

Earlier this week the Senators announced part of their plan was to contend for a Stanley Cup in three to five years, which may factor in a player's decision to re-sign.

"We want to be a playoff time every year," Dorion said. "When the puck drops next year, whatever the date is, in early October, we want to feel that we're a perennial playoff team every year and build towards a Stanley Cup in three to five years."

Not surprisingly, Dorion said buyouts have been discussed with more than one player as they look to get a little younger.

"Our model has to be a bit better how we align our dollars so we can have as much cap flexibility as possible."

Dorion also said he's "99.9 per cent" sure he'll keep Ottawa's first round pick in the upcoming draft, meaning he'll have to give a 2019 first-round pick to Colorado as part of the Duchene trade. That would give Ottawa two first-round picks this year.

Dorion was part of the three town halls held this week with owner Eugene Melnyk, where a common refrain from the duo was a criticism of the media coverage the organization receives.

"When it comes to dealing with the media and the people here we have to be better, we have to do it more often," Dorion said. "We finished in 30th place, we have to accept criticism — as long as the criticism is the truth and I think some of the things reported weren't even close to the truth.

"If you want to criticize us because we're in 30th place that is your right and you have no issues with that because we weren't very good this year and we have to accept it. As a second year general manager I have to take part of that blame and that responsibility, but we have to be better at it, there’s no doubt about it."

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press

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