2014-2015 Retort Cards: Forwards

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Due to overwhelming demand, I return with my flippant letter grade assessments of the performances of professional athletes all of whom, it should be noted, could beat the crap out of me before giving me a swirly.
WELP…it’s a spiritual journey of a read as turns out there are way more forwards on the team than defensemen…so let’s get started shall we?

Forwardsman Letter Grade Teacher says…every take a blog brings, an a-hole gets his wings.
Kyle Turris A Yo. On some admittedly petty shit, massive shout out to the kid for finishing the season with more points than Jason Spezza. I know I’m starting off on a hater tip but Turris doesn’t get to play in a top 6 with Jamie Benn, Tyler Segiun, and..is Ales Hemsky a top 6 player still? Anyway, KT continues to quietly get better and better and prove that he’s a quality 2 way centre at rock bottom prices.
Kyle Turris: Service, Selection, Value.
The best way to describe his game is with this question: Have you ever watched a Sens game and said, “Ah, goddamn it Turris what are you thinking?” He’s just such a smart, dependable player. He makes skating fast look hilariously easy and is continually proving himself a clutch performer.
He is the hockey player version of how he got traded to the Sens and sneakily was like, “Oh, the number 7 is available? Lemme just lowkey put that on my back.”
Mike Bananajazz A To go from starting last season in the AHL to getting extended looks on the top line and putting up a career high in both goals and assists (a 13 point jump) qualifies as a pretty damn impressive season. While I am unabashedly a Ziba fan, I will admit every time I heard Bryan Murray say that he saw Zibanejad’s ceiling as a first line centre, I had my doubts. Personally, I saw him topping out as a Mike Fisher type of rugged, dependable pivot who can put up around 40 to 50 points.
This season, especially when Dave Cameron took over, I felt I started to see the kind of top line potential in him Murray was talking about. Watching homeboy strong arm his way past defenders or shrug someone off his back who probably weighs 200lbs is pretty exciting considering this kid just turned 22 last month. Yes, he is younger than Mark Stone and JGP and aleady has 200 games and 3 playoff series under his belt.
The aspiring young Dubstep artist finished the year with a solid 20 goals and 46 points but what’s most exciting is I think he can do much, much better than that.
David Wandleg D+ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, how this guy put up 51 points JUST LAST YEAR is a complete mystery to me. I want to see what that even looks like. Can someone please put together a supercut of that? Talk about a tease. When Leggz was signed as an FA I figured he would mentor Zibanejad while he continued to develop. What we got was 4th line centre who consistently makes the safe play. Which, hey, is fair…but you know who else was kind of that? Zenon Konopka who you can pay in Sub Club stamps.
Also, I remember hearing he was “fast.” Okay. Did my dude age considerably between May and October 2014? Thing is, I didn’t even think Legwand was particularly bad at his assignment. What is so disappointing is what his assignment ended up being. I guess I expected a lot more of someone with his career, paycheque, and hell, the numbers he had put up just one year earlier.
Jean Gabriel Pizza Hotline A What? You’re a 5 foot 8 call up and you beat Zack Smith out of the 3rd line centre job and I’m going to give you anything other than an A? That’s nothing against Zack Smith per se. I just think as far as most GMs seem to go, Z is basically the ideal candidate for 3rd line centre.  An agitator who plays with a physical edge and can get on the score sheet occasionally. Pageau is these things plus the team’s second best faceoff man, a frustratingly elusive skater and crack penalty killer. He was a key component of what might have been Ottawa’s best line through much of the 2nd half and playoffs. As Curtis Lazar gets more comfortable playing in the NHL, I expect Pageau’s production to make a decent jump. Should Erik Condra have to leave this summer, I expect JGP to become heir to King Condra’s throne as “guy on the PK you trust the buhjezuz out of with the puck.” Easily one of my favourite players on the team at this point.
Courteous Lazar B First, a round of applause to our fan base for keeping their cool and staying patient with Lazar as he had some ups and downs dealing with the massive learning curve of making the NHL straight from junior as a teen. He’s not the generational talent that most guys who make that kind of jump are so, I was proud to see everyone ready to accept some baby steps. A little more courteousness over killer instinct in the first half of the season but nothing to be concerned about. After the WJCs, Lazar noticeably had more confidence and played a very solid second half. The points are a bit quiet but not abnormal for a rookie with upside. Consider future Hart/Scoring title winner Corey Perry had a modest 25 points his first season. Not to compare them beyond that but some awesome players spend their first year just taking it in. What Lazar’s ceiling is, to me, is not of much concern at this point. Ima let him just cook. If the club’s most inexperienced player captained his junior team to a WHL championship and Memorial Cup as well as Canada to a gold medal (on home ice no less)…all in the last calendar year? Yeah, I think it’s safe to feel good about this kid’s ability to handle pressure and grow.
Zmith D- I’d imagine it was a very frustrating year for the Smith Treat (?). I don’t want to get this twisted that I’m dogging on a guy for missing nearly half the season with a very gross sounding injury. That kind of thing can’t be helped.
No, what’s really rough for Smith is that it became quite clear that he lost his place on the team this year. He was supposed to spend time on the wing and put up bigger numbers. He struggled mightily at that. His game isn’t about points per se but homie has shown the ability to put up 13 or 14 goals in the past. You cant be putting up the same sat line as Chris Philips (3 ponts!) in basically the same amount of games (37 to Phillie’s 36). Greening gunna get bought out for just 2 fewer points than that, girl!
The quintessential mythic “Bryan Murray type player” with his size and toughness, as I already mentioned, was beat out cleanly by the diminutive JGP. What’s worse, even Legwand, unspectacular as he was, held down the 4th line centre slot instead of Smith. He also got bounced in the playoffs for Neil, who up to that point wasn’t given the time of day by Dave Cameron.
Simply put, life came at this guy fast this year. I still think he’s a very useful player who’s a bit of a coach’s dream and has a very reasonable contract. And because of that I believe that he be used to sweeten a trade package in the off season. It happens.
Mark Stone A+++ Just a little taste of how when you write about hockey stuff, shit can change on a dime. A reading from Stoner’s player bio on TSN.ca: “Could use more work on his skating and play without the puck.” I feel you. You don’t top the league in takeaways as a rookie without making a couple of enemies.
K, enough nitpicking. Let’s get to the good stuff:
Mark Stone is what I’ve been waiting to happen to the Sens in the time since Erik Karlsson emerged. A super talent that pretty unexpectedly pulls away from the rest of the prospects. Before someone hits me with the #ACTUALLY about EK being a 1st round pick, remember his initial ceiling was possibly to be a “Brian Rafalsky type” Respect due to BR’s Cup winning ass but EK ended up more of a workaday “Up for his 2nd Norris trophy in 4 years and team captain at age 24” type. I think, like Karlsson, among Sens fans we were pretty confident Stone would eventually find a place on the team but a season like this? And so soon? Wow.
I could really drone on with what you already know about what an amazing year he had but I think it can best be summed up this way: When he was injured in game 1 of the playoffs, it hurt the Sens chances of winning the series significantly. The guy was healthy scratched at the beginning of the season BTFingW. At the risk of sounding over the top, if Stone’s game reminds me of another Sens player it’s Alfie. Those feelings were strengthened when his wrist was fractured and he still managed to put up 4 assists in 6 games. Like #11, even with the chips stacked heavily against him, he adjusted his play and just found a way to get it done.
Bobbito Ryan B This is a bit of a tough one. Bobby’s year reminds me of Craig Anderson’s last season. Obvious struggles that came at parts of the season where they would be most noticeable/memorable. But also, like Anderson in January of ’14, Bobby carried the fucking team at some points. Namely the Western road trip that helped kick off Ottawa’s playoff run.
His season was much like his playoffs. The story is that he was ice cold and sure he had a couple of weak games where he was in his head, but upon closer inspection he scored 2 goals in a big Ottawa win and played some pretty strong games in that series as well. If not for the outstanding play of Stone, Hoffman and Zibanejad during Ryan’s cold streak, this off season could have been one where much of the good he did would be completely overshadowed a bad stretch. With Ryan here for the long haul I am looking at this one big picture. In his two seasons here so far, he has yet to hit the 30 goal mark he routinely did while playing with the Ducks (actual team name). That’s too bad but watching him game in and game out I think Ryan might emerge as more of a playmaker and not just a sniper on this team. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s okay with me if he doesn’t put up 30 goals as long as he’s making his line better. Despite the cold snap, this was his most productive season since 2011-12. When he couldn’t find the back of the net I found he would routinely get on goalies doorstep. Even if he’s not scoring, goalies still have to respect him when he is in position to tap it in. I think this helped free up his linemates.
I also definitely appreciate how much he’s emerging as a leader on the team as we enter the next chapter of the franchise. I expect more next year mostly because I know he can provide more.
Alex Chiasson C (u l8r) The human Participation ribbon. What really can be said about Alex Chiasson’s season at this point? No, seriously, lil help here, it’s very hard to think of anything to say about this guy. There is understandable disappointment with him on the Sensphere given that he was the centrepiece of the Jason Spezza trade.
If this is your view, take my advice: Look at the removal Jason Spezza’s hefty salary and the pressure to resign him as the REAL centrepiece of that trade.
Look, as fans, we have a propensity to slot players into two categories: Goats and Golden Boys. Sure Chiasson is a goat but at the end of the day, it’s tough to sit here and say a guy who put up 11 goals and 26 points (more than fan favourites JGP and Condra) while spending much of the season on the 4th line a “failure.”  He was fine. I was hoping he would at least CHALLENGE the far less experienced Stone for a top six spot on the right side. At no point was that even a conversation.
In conclusion, I don’t hate the guy and at just 24 I could see room for him to grow still but if one RFA wasn’t extended, you’d be hard pressed to make an argument for anyone over him.
Erik Condra A Trying to think if there’s ever been a guy in Sens history who had a job as boring as penalty killer and also had as much trouble finishing a breakaway/in general as Condra who was more of a fan favourite. Im thinking maybe Antoine Vermette…but he had LADIES tho.
Regardless, there’s nobody on the team, aside from Karlsson, who I trust more with the puck than Condra. Just super smart and great at what he does. It will be a shame if he goes but every team seems to have to make these tough decisions once in a while in the cap world. The reality of budget indicates that despite getting paid relatively little by NHL standards, Condra might have to be sacrificed to move toward the future and retain young RFAs.
If he does go, I could not be happier that he went out like a boss making Carey Price his step-nephew on a beautiful goal in all alone. Look for Ottawa to have a significantly weaker penalty kill next year should they be without him.
Chris Neil C- Oh boy, here we go. K, this is going to sound a little over the top but I straight up think it was a pretty huge moment in the history of the franchise that after being given a clean bill of health Neiler was scratched for an extended period of time as the team went on their unprecedented march to a Wildcard spot.
In his 12 years in the capital, even on far better iterations of the team, the idea of a coach saying, “nah, we good” to Neil’s services is jaw dropping. The biggest part of it was that it was the right call to sit him. I highly doubt having him there to “keep the other team honest” was on many people’s minds during that final stretch of the season. Winning is winning and they did a lot of it while Neil, an Assistant Captain, had to watch from the press box.
I think he did an admirable job when he was plugged into the high intensity play of the post-season for two games after missing months. At his age that could not have been easy.
Bryan Murray indicated at the end of the season that some veteran players want to be moved. Much speculation is that the person is David Legwand and it probably is. But if I’m Neil and I’ve been with the team for 12 years and wear a letter and get sat for weeks on end because the team is doing so well without me? I might be wanting to head where my services are more in demand.
Mike Hoffman A You know Mark Stone is fuckin’ up the rookie game for everyone when you lead the entire team with 27 goals in your first full season and you’re not the breakout story of your team. Don’t even get me started on this Hammurderer guy. Talk about bad timing poor Hoff wasn’t even the second biggest breakout story on the Sens.
I will be very interested in his extension this summer as I find Hoffman’s regularly labelled as a guy who might have peaked but uh… it’s not like the Sens can’t use this guy’s kind of speed and scoring touch going forward. He spent a bit of time on the 4th line in the playoffs where one false move can cost a coach his job. That obviously shows he still needs to round out his game and asdsdkfjakdjfhsgrgg. Honestly, who DOESNT need to round out their game in this work a day world? (See below for answer).
Hoffman was eventually returned to the top 6 where he scored the most important goal of the series against the Habs.
Confession: I wasn’t completely sold on the guy at the beginning of the season and was concerned he was a little overhyped by fans and media. With 26 of his biscuits coming at even strength I will admit I was totally wrong. I feel like he could score 7 less next year and I wouldn’t sweat it. You cant have enough 20+ goal scorers who can skate like the wind.
Clarke MacArthur A- Even perfect hockey players go on dry streaks. Grizz had a pretty rough one this year. He suffered a scary head injury too. But you know how MacArthur-types respond to adversity like that? They come back like bosses that none of that shit happened to and help get the goddamn squad into the playoffs.
Additionally I thought he was a beast in the playoffs especially in games when no one else was. I was tempted to give him a B+ but as the only spark in a couple of those rough ass early playoff games against the Habs I gotta bump the boy up. Confident he will return to his normal self on October.
Milan Michalek B Poor Milo, he’s the kind of dude who can do something amazing like put up 35 goals (equal to B Ryan’s career high) and still have fans be all “Doze Spezza passes tho.”
Milo’s super underappreciated I find. This year was no exception. Blessed is the guy who you can plug into the top six one game and put him on the 4th line to kill penalties the next and receive quietly solid performance from each and no complaints from him on what is frankly a pretty harsh demotion. All you hear about Milo from players and staff is how he is a “good pro” and you know what? I believe it. Before he went down with a concussion, Michalek was absolutely flying for a good stretch of the season and when the Sens really needed it too. He’s the kind of player who would be totally reasonable at $4M per on other teams…but ours is broke so you know how that go. Would love to see a him hit the 40+ bracket in points but considering how good he is defensively having him around a point every other game is fine to me.
Matt Puempel Σ Great to see the kid get a couple goals in what ended up being a pretty short call up. What the end of season numbers don’t tell you is how close some of his scoring chances were. He showed in a short time he can be a pretty dangerous presence and i think think the team noticed that. A bounce here or an inch or two there and Pumps (sorry) might have had 4 or 5 goals.
I was super bummed out that just as seemed to get more comfortable his season ended with a high ankle sprain. It’s an injury I’ve had myself and know how frustratingly long the healing and rehabbing process is. Luckily, he’s got a great strength and conditioning staff looking after him unlike I did (thanks Obama).
Shane Prince µ Heyyyy speaking of “Thanks Obama” good to see my favourite right wing left winger Princey finally get a cup of coffee as he has been toiling away in Binghamton and improving every year since 2011. I have no idea if Prince ever gets a legit shot but at 22, as Hoffman has shown, he’s still a good amount of road ahead to prove himself an NHLer.
I’m sure its tough to get only 2 games. One was strong the other not so great but getting a nice assist is a good first step.
Have a great summer. Hit the gym hard and don’t get too distracted campaigning for Ted Cruz! He got this.
College Greening God bless Got paid $2, 650, 000.00 to score an empty net goal where he didn’t even shoot the puck on the play. Greening finished the year with the distinction of all time franchise leader in Cost Per Point. His salary increases next year and again the year after. Thanks for reading.

WTYKY Film Room: The Sens Say Thank You

As their last official act of the 2014-15 NHL season, the Ottawa Senators and their digital media team recorded a thank you video for us, the fans. We here at WTYKY would be remiss if we didn’t bring you a full breakdown of this off-ice content. It’s kinda our thing.

Whatever, it’s the summer. Just roll with it.

0:01

Look, if there’s one thing we’ve all learned from our Grade 8 graduation, it’s that nothing puts one in the mood for reflection like the soothing tones of a gently plucked acoustic guitar. Sometimes when something happens in my life, I’ll take out my second-hand 12 string and play the first few chords of Wonderwall just in case it turns out to be worth remembering later. Once I was served McDonald’s breakfast at 11:02 AM on a Sunday morning, even though Macca’s has a STRICT policy regarding the sale of Egg McMuffin’s past 11 on weekends, and I commemorated the event with a photo slideshow I created using iMovie. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of using Rick Wakeman’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII as the soundtrack, which totally ruined the vibe and it ended up getting badly downvoted on Reddit. Should have just used something by CSNY-Era Neil Young instead. Lesson learned.

You’ll notice that the Sens digital media team has not made the same schoolboy error I did so many weeks years ago. They may not be able to afford the rights to that one Green Day song whose name no one really knows, but they do know two dudes with guitars, effects pedals, a working knowledge of Garage Band, and an appreciation for Mumford and Sons’ new sound. Consider the tone set.

0:06

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Look, you may say that life is all about colouring outside the lines, but would you take that sort of BS from your tattoo artist?

That’s what I thought.

0:23

Not content to just be his team’s lead-off hitter in the Orleans fastpitch league this summer, Mark Stone gets this end-of-year video started as well! Let’s see how he goes.

0:26

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Ah, the classic look of a man who did not expect the phrase “continued support” to be written on the next line of the cue card.

0:30

Mika Zibanejad is a man of few words. You may think that a trite “Thank you Sens Army for your support” betrays a lack of interest, but take a second look. You think he’d put on his best boat shoes and fitted ball cap for just anyone? Love is about actions as well as words.

0:33

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Milo comes in and delivers his lines with the self-assured confidence of a man who knows that even if he didn’t have the best season, he still outscored Ales Hemsky. That said, I have to comment on some of the sartorial decisions going on here. Now, I don’t know what sort of life Milan Michalek had as a young boy growing up in communist Czechoslovakia. For all I know, he aspired to one day wear the trappings of the most capitalist institutions as a way to rebel against his Stalinist oppressors. I don’t know what else would inspire one to support the New York Yankees of all teams. You might as well just walk around in an BNP Paribas golf shirt or wear a blazer made of sea turtle shells with the Exxon Mobil logo stitched on it. If any sports team can be thought of as truly evil, it is the New York Yankees.

0:38

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Like I was saying, the New York Yankees are one of the finest franchises in all of sports and I feel honoured to even be allowed to cast my gaze upon their officially licensed headwear.

0:40

Bloody hell, Jean-Gabriel Pageau is the most long-winded francophone since Marcel Proust! Here is a translation of JGP’s message to Sens Fans.

I am an angel sent to earth by God to torment all those who would stand against the Ottawa Senators. Erik Condra and I will play on a line together for as long as there is hockey being played in the capital of this great nation. Sens rule, all them other teams stink. Thanks for a great season.

It’s amazing how good my French is after having taken two (2) French courses over a decade ago.

0:53

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You hear what Patrick Wiercioch is saying, but you cannot listen his words because he is looking deep within your soul to judge you and your darkest secrets. I bet if this guy blinked more often (read: more than zero times) he would have been scratched less.

1:13

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Jared Cowen is an NHL defenseman with the Ottawa Senators organization.

1:17

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See, now this is what I’m talking about. Andrew Hammond isn’t about baseball bandwagons, endorsement deals, or swag from his cousin’s music production company in which he has a 2.5% stake. There’s just a nice sweater, a Nike hat off-the-rack, and a simple “Thank you, Sens fans” which gets the job done without fanfare. Andrew Hammond is the Andrew Hammond of this video.

1:22

Likewise, Chris Neil knows the drill. He’s not here to do anything fancy, he’s just gonna say his lines into the camera and go off on a change. That’s called being a veteran, folks.

1:30

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Is Alex Chiasson’s lid game reflective of the fact that deep down he suspects he may have peaked in college?

No, YOU’RE projecting!

1:46

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You can tell Eric Gryba really went all out for this video because he shaved earlier that morning.

1:51

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Some might see this image as proof that Colin Greening is alive, but I’m not believing anything until I see a take where he’s holding today’s paper.

1:53

“Hey Sens fans, Curtis Lazar here.”

Curtis Lazar isn’t so vain as to think that just because you’re on this website for the team he plays for, it automatically means you know who he is. No, he’s gonna introduce himself, and you know why? ‘Cause he wasn’t raised in a goddamn barn, that’s why. After nearly a full year of watching Curtis Lazar on and off the ice, I can say confidently that “Meeting your parents for the first time” is just his default mode of interacting with people. He’s just so…earnest. He even said it was a joy to put on a show for us! Curtis, stop it. The joy is all ours.

2:09

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Is this to be Erik Condra’s last appearance in an Ottawa Senators video? Is the man who has given us so many memorable moments over the years going out in a Detroit Tigers ballcap (Michigan represent!) while playing with his jacket’s zipper? As much as we’d all love to see this guy be the 9th person on the team to hold the Stanley Cup aloft before he rides off just wide of the sunset, some things are too beautiful for this world. Erik Condra is one of those things.

2:20

Enough of the scrubs. Now we’re getting into The Faces of the Franchise™. Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan (or as you know him, “This is Bobby”) are givens, but who is the creamy middle of this Top 6 Sandwich? It’s Mike Hoffman! If I were Mike Hoffman’s agent (and really, who’s to say I’m not?), I’d be taking this video to the RFA negotiations this summer. “If my client doesn’t deserve to get paid like a top forward, why’s he in this part of the video instead of back with Cowen and Neil? Look, Turris makes $3.5 Million a year, Bobby makes $7 million a year, so let’s split the difference and go $5.5 Million.” Bryan Murray’s gonna be hoisted by his own digital media petard on this one.

2:40

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Codi Ceci looks good in a sheltered role here. Maybe you’d like to see more out of the kid, but he only just turned 21! Let’s not rush him. Look at everything he’s already incorporating into his game. He’s got the backwards hat of Jared Cowen, the chain of Kyle Turris, and the barely controlled hair of Mark Stone. Cody Ceci is all upside.

2:43

I gotta come clean: I’ve never been able to get a handle on Craig Anderson. Some people have very strong feelings about Craig Anderson, but I am not one of them. He’s very good, but he’s not even Ottawa’s best ever goaltender who routinely suffers mysterious injuries. I don’t know what else to say here. Nice hat, I guess? Thx 4 reading.

2:47

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“They didn’t give me the C, so I’m gonna give them the V………………neck.” – Chris Phillips.

2:53

I love Erik Karlsson. Has he ever been uncomfortable in any social situation? Both on and off the ice, EK only has to show up to crush it out of the park. I can’t wait to see his speech when he accepts his Norris Trophy next month. He’ll probably thank his dog and tumblr. It’s going to rule.

3:23

thebryan

I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that Bryan Murray is, both figuratively and literally, a boss. All hail The Bryan.

3:26

Ah, life comes at one fast. Dave Cameron started out the year as The Guy with the Earpiece on Paul Maclean’s bench, and now he’s repping the whole coaching staff and painting thank you messages on the ice. Cameron ends the year and the video the same way he began as head coach: talking directly and matter-of-factly with that soothing but totally unplaceable accent. I hope he gets a summer job recording audiobooks or something.

I think we’re done here.

Ottawa Senators Off-Ice Power Rankings – May 2015

May is a land of contrasts. The Senators of summer – those deathless kings of the beach, chowing down on foot-long hot links aboard their Sea-Doos – have yet to emerge fully, only now poking their heads out after a long winter like so many baby robins. Yet with the season finally over and emotions from the first round just beginning to fade, the last thing we feel like talking about is actual hockey, isn’t it? We’re all gradually disengaging from the game, remembering only to check in on each increasingly-satisfying Habs playoff loss, ready for something, anything different.

May is not the time for 3,000 words about why black-on-black doesn’t work for Patrick Wiercioch, is what I’m saying. So no ruminations this month, no philosophy, no prose – ten quick hits and we’re out. Let’s go!

1) Erik Condra (last month: NR)

Look ma! No teeth! 😜 @econdra22 #daddysboy

A photo posted by Ryan Condra (@ryan_r_condra) on



“Goodnight to the rock ‘n roll era” – some band, probably

We’re sending off pending UFA Erik Condra the only way we know how, at the top of the power rankings one last time. Goodnight, sweet Michigan prince. Flights of angels will sing thee to thy rest, on the third line in LA, or Chicago, or some other team with an analytics department and $1.5 million dollars.

2) Erik Karlsson (last month: 1)

Coincidence or not? #familyvisits #NationalLookAlikeDay #brothers

A photo posted by Erik Karlsson (@erikkarlsson65) on



We could talk about Karlsson-family secondary sex characteristics and genetic predispositions to wispy facial hair, or how Karlsson’s brother looks like Jeff Sweedy, but I just want to point out one thing. The man on the right has the genes of an elite Swedish defenseman, and he’s taller. The last time the Senators had a guy like that, they traded him for Kyle Turris. Bryan! Call up Kenny Holland and tell him you’ll give him a Karlsson for Anthony Mantha! I could be a GM.

3) Cody Ceci (last month: 8)



“I’ll use your tub for as long as I want, thanks. Pay you? Bro, you should be paying ME for this. What do you mean you’re closed tomorrow?”

4) Telling a Sad Short Story Through Official Team Merch (last month: NR)

“For sale, playoff towels, used thrice.”

5) There is No #5 This Month (last month: NR)

6) Curtis Lazar (last month: NR)

I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I saw Courteous Lazar being photographed with an unwashed truck this month. After all, this is a guy who shows up to interview day with healthy snacks, throws gentle shade at his billet’s hairline with adorable marker sketches, and even manages a winning smile when he’s caught in a candid during a night out with his orthodontist. Then he goes to Carp for bingo but can’t be bothered to wax his Ford Venator-class Star Destroyer the next day? Didn’t we scout this guy carefully?

7) Chris Phillips (last month: NR)

Why does Chris Phillips NEED to play hockey next year, anyway? He’s already hit the sweet spot most players only dream of when they’re grinding it out in junior; entrepreneur, dad-charity stalwart, beloved local icon holding court with a double-double everywhere he goes. He’s basically Ottawa’s Johnny Bower, but with 50 more years to enjoy it. So just enjoy it, Chris, and think about how furious we’ll all be when you’re gone, and the team immortalizes you with a #4 under the ice, and some dumbass blogger makes a cheap, tasteless joke about it.

8) David Legwand (last month: 3)

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We talked last month about how David Legwand is a man cheerfully out of time, a man without social media or a tinker’s cuss about what the younger generation thinks. Add a comb to that list, I guess. Christ, Legwand. You look like Bobby Ryan if he got frozen in a glacier for 20 years with a pair of jeans from the 90s.

9) Our Friend, Amelia (last month: NR)

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Second-last but not least, we’d be remiss if we didn’t salute Amelia L., who’s moving on as the managing editor at Silver Seven after several years of making it the go-to blog for Sens analysis, insight, and a number of other things that have nothing to do with WTYKY. Amelia helped a number of great young writers get into blogging and was never afraid to take a chance on a highly-unpopular feature. Best of luck with what’s next, Amelia; you will be missed.

10) Andrew Hammond (last month: 4)

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Is it possible that a man who uses a selfie stick could still be paid a lot of money very soon? Sure, what the hell – see you next month!

NOT RANKED: Eugene Melnyk; hot tips; the classic combo of white socks and grey sweats; when the prom chaperones can’t tell you’re high AF; getting shaved by a bear; tweeting while slumped against your condo door, oranges casually spilling out of your overturned brown grocery bags as well-heeled neighbours hurry to the elevator.

2014-2015 Retort Cards: Defense

Defenseperson Letter Grade Teacher says…every take a blog brings, an a-hole gets his wings.
Mark Borowiecki C+ If we’re gunna call Mark Stone a rookie, I guess it’s a rookie season for Boro too and that should be taken into account. He gets hated on a lot but sometimes I think that as a bottom pairing defenseman, part of your job is generally being disliked by fans. By sheer logic it follows that you’re the worst defenseman on the team. Who really is going to get behind that? Shouts to Christoph Schubert wherever you are. Anyway, for a 6th round pick rookie who makes very money little by NHL standards, he did okay. And by ‘did okay’ I mean he wasn’t great and it’s frustrating as hell at times to watch a player do his job when his job is basically taking a lot of penalties. I found I saw more good decision making and solid play when watching him in person. On TV, most of his camera time is him sitting in the box, spitting Gatorade through where his teeth should be.
Interesting that he managed to finish two points back of puck mover Patrick Wiercioch in only 7 more games played.
Room for improvement next season: Don’t take 2 penalties in one period in the playoffs, plz.
I am pretty confident his game can grow to the point that he’s not very noticeable outside of his physical game (a good thing). He sounds high AF when he laughs in interviews.
Jared Cowen A+ Just trying to build up my G’s trade value. Peter Chiarelli, if you’re reading this, Jared Cowen is like Erik Karlsson only faster, more skilled and better looking. He is like two Erik Karlssons.
Eric Gryba C I don’t know, fuck. Eric was a pleasant student to teach. Have a great summer shooting things.
Patrick Wiercioch C++ *gets pelted with scientific calculators* Listen nerds, I know this is your boy but I still ain’t going to pretend that I love every thing about his game yet. Does he carry the puck well? Yes. Does he have a deceptively good shot? Most def. Is he soft as a chinchilla to play against? Well, I haven’t seen a huge dude get strong armed that easily since Tom Jones was in court over a paternity suit. *bass guitar slide, audience howls at excellent 2015-friendly joke*
I believe in Wiercioch’s upside but you gotta here both sides on this season. I felt like it was clear why 2 different coaches had a hard time trusting him. Especially if you watch him in person. He drives possession fine but routinely does not effectively get in the way of attackers. I can’t ignore that after a promising first two seasons in the league this  overall was a down year for PW. As much as he was healthy scratched, he still played 3 more games than he did in ’13-14 and put up 10 fewer points. He was also dead last in blocked shots and hits for all defensemen, including Chris Phillips who played only 36 games. I don’t expect Wiercioch to be Chris Pronger but if he’s going to be the middle pairing defender we want him to be, he’ll need to do more than just “drive possession.”
He certainly turned it around in a noticeable way once he finally got a solid chance and finished strong with a great playoff round. If he can start playing that way he did in April from October on, his contract will be an absolute bargain next year at just 200K more than…
Chris Phillips D- At this point it’s hard to talk about Chris Phillips without feeling kind of mean. If you go back to the beginning of the season you can catch me shootin’ dice, praising Phillips for playing decently on the first pairing with Karlsson. Good times? Great times. All things must pass…to the point that I would take one solid or unnoticeable game from him as a gift. I guess it’s obvious now that at some point he suffered a chronic back injury but damn girl, his play fell off a cliff to the point that any discussion of him just immediately revolved around ways to trade him (LoLk, where/how?) or convince him to retire (Seat on the board of the Iris Street B.I.A?). So, you know, that…ain’t good. He broke Alfie’s record for games played as a Sen (#blessed?) and curiously sat the rest of the season after. As a fan, thanks 4 ur yrz of service and all but it is impossible for me to picture him helping the team should he return next season. To me, at this point, on the ice, there’s nothing he brings that Gryba or Borowiecki doesn’t (and for cheaper). Few people in the NHL are better prepared for retirement than the Big Rig. Huge question this off season is will he do it?
Cody Ceci A- Young Ceezy. Seemed like a bit of a quiet season I guess but I wonder if he came in too hot last season with his first NHL goal being an OT winner vs. -regular season only- powerhouse St. Louis .Maybe he got us all too expectant for moments like that. I try to keep in mind that he is only 21 years old *spit take* and has already earned a consistent assignment on the middle pairing. For a defender with offensive upside, 21 points may seem a little low but I try to remember that even Karlsson had 26 points in his first season.
Again if the points seem low it should be remembered that Ceci still finished 2nd among defenders in goals, assists, shots and handsomeness (you’ll never believe who came first). He was also first in blocked shots and just to melt your mind he  took only 6 minutes in penalties the whole season (zero in the post-season!). He had some shaky moments sure but, for a guy who hasn’t been 21 for 5 full months, he is progressing perfectly.
Marc Methot A Yo. Not since the Erik Karlsson incident of which we shall not speak has a player proved his worth to a team by being injured. Ima let the gawd Bryan Murray cook as the only person who doesn’t see the defense as the team’s biggest issue (who comes out of the current top 6 for that new guy tho, BM?) When Methot started the season on the IR and we were treated to a cavalcade of stars, Phillips/Cowen/Borowiecki getting paired with Golden Child Erik Karlsson, was it more evident how thin the left side is. As important as it was to sign Methot I have to admit my Memoires de Pascale Leclaire had me a bit shook at the idea of signing a player who was on the long term injured reserve. Luckily, once Methot jumped back into the line up full time, he was his old self: steady, hulking and very quick for his size. A bummer to hear he also finished the season hurt but kudos for it not showing in the slightest. Thrilled to have the guy signed. He took a bit of a discount to continue to play with one of the world’s best. I hear arguments that he’s a top 4 d man but to me, if you help Erik Karlsson to play better you’re a top guy. Seems to be emerging into a bit of a leader which is helpful should Phillips retire to focus on raising Curtis Lazar.
Erik Karlsson π Not. Known. For. His. Defensive. Game. Tho. Am. I. Right. ? I mean, maybe carrying/moving the puck out of the defensive zone more than anyone else on the team by a country mile counts as defensive play…I don’t know, who’s to say? Maybe you’re like me and watch pretty much every single game and find it clear he is easily the Sens best defensive player. Maybe criticizing a guy who plays half an hour a game and has the puck more than anyone turning it over or getting caught pinching a couple times a game is like blaming a goaltender for letting in two goals. Some reaching shit. Just a CONTROVERSIAL opinion of mine. ONLY TIME/NORRISESES WILL ABSOLVE MY JAZZY WAYS. It was good to see hockey experts panelists finally start acknowledging his play on both sides of the puck this year. Well, except for Steve Simmons who’s a fucking idiot. No seriously, he…does not seem like a very smart man. EK led all NHL defensemen in points and is up for the Norris again. Think of who he had to play with for half the season. Sink into that thought like it’s a nice hot bath. I feel lucky that I get to watch this guy play hockey.
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Roundtable of Death: The Sens are Dead, Long Live The Sens

In which Luke, Varada, Chet, Steph, and James discuss how it’s better to have won and lost than never to have won at all.

Luke:

Part of me just wants to let Mick, Keef, and The Boys take this one.

I’m having a hard time coming up with anything to say about this series other than “So it goes.” Having watched nearly every bounce go Ottawa’s way for two months, I’m not inclined to summon my equine dental hygiene specialist to closely examine this horse we’d been given.

That said, as someone who publicly stated “Montreal’s bottom 6 is terrible”, the first three games of the series were still deeply troubling to me. By the time Dale Weise scored in overtime to give Montreal a 3-0 series lead, I was reduced to a hollow husk of a man who could do nothing but mutter to himself “Well on the bright side, at least no one could have possibly predicted this!” My feeling is that if you play the first three games of that series over again, there’s no way Montreal goes up 3-0 a second time. I say this because they DID play three more games in the series, Bryan Flynn, Torey Mitchell, and Dale Weise were nowhere to be seen (just as God intended), and Ottawa won 2 out of the 3 games. If you lose because the other team does stuff that’s so unlikely there’s no way you’d ever expect it to happen again, should that make you feel better or worse? Let’s ask Bruins fans. I bet they have thoughts on the matter.

Going into Game 4, I was filled with something approaching dread. Making the greatest run to the playoffs in NHL history only to get swept in the first round would have raised philosophical questions I would have been ill-equipped to answer. Luckily we were spared these questions as Mike Hoffman did a thing, Ottawa blew out Montreal once in Montreal (as is now playoff tradition), and only the referees were able to stop the series from going to a Game 7. We had some moments, people, and that’s all you can really ask for as a 7 seed. *Hands out t-shirts reading “2015 Playoffs: They Didn’t Totally Suck!”*

Speaking of the Refs Tho

I’ve been trying for the past 18 hours to work myself into a moderate froth regarding the heinous refereeing that led to Ottawa’s untimely departure aaaaaaaannnnnd……………..I just can’t do it. Every team loses due to human error, and as annoying as it is that the errant humans weren’t the ones who play the game, the lesson to be learned is that if you don’t want to risk losing in an utterly soul crushing way, you shouldn’t go down three games to zero against Carey Price to begin with.

I feel like this was a fitting way for this Sens team to go out, to be honest. Yes Montreal won, but did Ottawa really lose? This year’s team will forever be remembered as the team that only the refs could kill. Not a bad legacy for a team that gave us one of the most enjoyable 12 weeks in Sens history.

So it goes.

Varada:

I just finished watching a bootlegged copy of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it’s just like, what, so the Hulk is invincible now? That’s his power? He can do anything and nobody can stop him? The movie ends when the Hulk just does the thing everybody said they needed to do? At least it’s not as bad as that show Daredevil. Hoo boy! What a torture-thon! Literally! He’s constantly torturing people! I don’t understand how that’s supposed to be an enjoyable watch. What’s that? There was a hockey game last night? Oh, yeah, that broke my heart.

But I think you’re right, Luke: it’s hard to be particularly bitter when the team put themselves in a position where a miracle run was required just to sneak into the playoffs on the last day of the season, then they lose a tightly contested first round which they just as likely could have won.

This isn’t a Toronto team that doesn’t know what stage of rebuild it’s in, or a Sabres team that’s definitely, definitely in stage one, or a Carolina team spending oodles of money to be terrible with no end in sight. This team played entertaining hockey, got into the dance, anything could, and did, happen, and we’re all better for it.

Was the announcing annoying? Considering Price was outplayed by Anderson, and debatably even Hammond (who I thought was really good! No idea where people get this “played himself out of a job” thing), and was talked about as if he was the best player in the world throughout: yes. Only one goalie in this series allowed five goals in one game.

Was the officiating atrocious? Maybe. It was certainly weird, as quick whistles and face-off violation penalties can attest. The series occasionally felt as if the refs would randomly drop a power-up onto the ice and the team would hope for a red shell. It was weird, but it’s an even weirder tradition in the sport itself. Powerplays change the whole dynamic of the game, and always have, in ways that forever distort the purity of the contest itself.

Are the Canadiens full of pests who really got under my skin? Absolutely. Prust and Gallagher had jobs, and did them, and I hate them for it. I guess it’s interesting to see Montreal learn from what we did to them a couple of years ago.

But all in all, the Senators won the respect of the league and its many armchair experts, all of whom couldn’t give a crap about a small market team with the lowest payroll in the league. They did so with Vezina quality goaltending, Norris quality defenseman, a Calder quality rookie, and only room and financial space to grow. The future’s bright.

Now bring back the damned heritage jersey and let’s build some memories.

Chet:

Winning is great, but you know what’s sometimes more memorable than winning? Heroic failure. We’re all moved by heroic failure, right? Gallipoli? Cervantes? Kristers Gudlevskis?

The Senators went out on their shields last night, and as much as I love the 0% ROI complaining about blown calls, I’m with Luke in that I can only get so frissoned about last night. They would have needed another goal anyway, and just like those Iranian hostages, they shouldn’t have been there in the first place, trying to win four straight off Carey Price. Besides, losing a game like that is all of a piece with a series in which the Sens had already lost two overtime games, which are already basically coin flips. It was clear from the very beginning that the only thing separating the Sens and Habs were a few bounces one way or the other, and it was almost immediately as clear that luck, or fate, or that Mufasa-like cloudbank over the casino that looked just like Julia Robillard, was not going to give the Sens those bounces.

But they scratched and clawed anyway, didn’t they? To make sure Montreal knew, in a deep, uncomfortable place, that Ottawa was better? That their own lucky bounces would run out soon enough? And when they do, maybe in the next round, maybe in the conference finals against the Rangers, when Carey Price simply can’t keep his so-so team afloat forever, they too will fail. Except at that point, there won’t be anything heroic about it. It’ll just be Julia Robillard evening things out.

The Senators played like beautiful, star-crossed, tragic heroes last night, and I’m proud of them. Senators history is full of more talented teams that choked, or gave up, or won, but in a predictable, suffocating fashion. These guys refused to do any of those things, which is why we’ll remember them. As failures, and as heroes.

Steph:

You know what sucks about being constantly convinced that your team is going to do the thing – come back in the third period to win the game, come back from a 14 point deficit to make the playoffs, force game 6 against a team with probably the best goalie in the league, etc. – is that when they don’t do the thing for once, you’re extra disappointed. I couldn’t be team tank in January and I still think this run was worth not getting a high draft pick, but it still doesn’t feel good for the season to end like this. We all went through the stages of hockey grief together.

Denial: Nah, nah, this was a shitty dream and I’ll wake up to the Sens in the conference final and also Jared Cowen never existed and Alfie is back on the team.
Anger: The Habs are a shitty team with maybe 3 good players, they’re dirty, Gallagher is a piece of shit, the refs were against us, it was a garbage end to a Cinderella season, fuck hockey, I’m done with sports.
Bargaining: If only the ref hadn’t whistled early on the Pageau attempt they would have evened the score, forced overtime and probably won, since the Sens work best in high pressure situations, right?
Depression: Get the tequila. No, not the good stuff.
Acceptance: I guess I’m cheering for the Flames. Habs are still garbage fucks though.

I don’t know, I’m still mad about the officiating, but I don’t want to be thinking about it 20 years later like Leafs fans about Kerry Fraser. The last months of the season were incredible to watch, and I want those crazy goals, improbable wins, and Hamburger themed revolutions to be what’s remembered about this season. In the end, the Sens did the thing – they kept trying to win no matter how many shitty bounces or shitty calls went against them, and that’s what should be remembered about this season and give us all hope for next season (when it will be revealed that Jared Cowen never existed). ​

James:

Hahahaha You slay me Chet…those things you’re referring to that I totally know about…CLASSIC examples of heroic failure things. I would add some but I’m…uh…in a—

HEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY what a way to go out. And by “what a way to go out’ I mean “I’m still trying to figure out what all the feels mean.”

Corny as it sounds, I think today we are all Dave Cameron showing a stiff upper lip to that blown call. There’s nothing we can do other than move forward and let that dickbag in the office cook and act like he actually won that series. BTW I think it’s going to be a big year for “his” Yankees AND “his” Patriots/Cowboys…I guess he doesn’t root for the Heat at this point.

To build on Chet’s point, hey, to the victor go the spoils and everything but if I take one major thing out of this series it’s this: If that’s the class of our division I’m extremely excited about the future because that simply is not a very good hockey team overall. Sure Ottawa lost this time but have you ever seen a team go down 3-0 and seem less intimidated about that? Especially a Sens squad. If that’s what losing to Montreal looks like, where the biggest margin in the series was a 5-1 win? I’d take them as a playoff dance partner again in a heartbeat. That was not like Sisyphean task of facing the Pittsburgh Killbots year after year in the past. The Senators still have a lot to work on (Could have made Price work way, way harder) but they have a ton to build on as well. I’ll take a 1-1* rivalry with these assholes.

To me, the story of that series was Craig Anderson. Just a few weeks ago, I was confidently saying the wise move going forward was to give Robin Lehner his long awaited shot as starter, install Hammond as backup (he’s not going to keep going undefeated but SURELY he’s as good as Curtis McElhinney) and deal Anderson while the dealing’s good. 3 games of Andy and I am totally rethinking it. To come in after basically not playing for months in relief of a goalie who couldn’t have been on a hotter run just to go toe to toe with Carey Price and to hold it down like that? That was damn impressive. Not to get too ahead of myself here but I think a big move is going to be made this summer and I’m glad I’m not the one who has to decide what that move is.

Moaning Korner: Dat fucking broadcast tho. Much as I talk about shit about commentary, don’t get it twisted, I looooove cheering for the “bad guys.” Ask yourself this: Would you really want Glenn Healy endlessly waxing on about if he were but a glove upon the hand touching the cheek of Craig Anderson? Blech, no thanks.

We live in a world of hockey media where the most talked about team is a garbage pile of perpetual failure. The Canadian hockey press basically covers the Chicago Cubs as if they were the Yankees. It’s funny and consistently shines a spotlight on the ongoing embarrassment of our hated rival. With years of training I’ve come to embrace that bias to a large degree. If you ever want to know the extra satisfaction that is your team beating the opposition AND the announcers just look up JG Pageau’s hat trick on Price two seasons ago. Bob Cole’s call on that third goal is worth more than all the Saturday night losses to the Leafs on HNIC combined. As I’ve said in the past, I am more or less used to the bias at this point. I have no doubt that if Toronto went on the same epic march to the playoffs that Ottawa just did, they would put them on a postage stamp. Whatever. I don’t want Ottawa to be Canada’s team. I want to see them grow and succeed on some hater shit. There is no bandwagon here (well, save for the gawd Ann Murray). This thing is ours for better or worse and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Anyway, all this in mind, the coverage of those six games was just unbearably shitty. I’ve sat through countless Saturday night cringefests on CBC but that was just a new level all together. From the gotta hear both sides on Subban’s slash on Stone it was slanted to the point that I think went beyond being annoying as a Sens fan to just a sports fan in general. Hearing any series called that way would be frustrating. I can handle bias of that stripe from a bunch of failed football commentators on an ESPN Nashville feed or whatever, all of those local broadcasts have an obvious slant, including ours. But there’s a reason a clownshoes guy like Jack Edwards is on Boston public access and not NBC. For national coverage of TWO Canadian teams that was just embarrassing. The Habs already had Gallagher, Prust and Subban trying to get under everyone’s skin, they don’t need your help from ice level there, Glenn Healy. You know the game’s fucked up when former Leaf AND Hab Mike Johnson feels like the only voice of reason in the whole mess. For the first time I thought even Elliot Freidman’s approach was clumsy. Felt like HNIC jumped the shark and pandered out of desperation or something. Either way, what an all around shit show that was. “You think that shit is poppin’ man but it’s not poppin’ man” – Ghostface Killa, Re: HNIC Panel.

I have more to say (WHAT!?) but I’ll leave it at this, after a season and a half of almost inexplicable lethargy came a coaching change and an historical run by a below average career minor league goalie we were treated to something truly special. Hammond was the spark, the inspiration, but the whole team turned the season around under immense pressure. The team as a whole, especially many of the young guys, can’t unlearn what they went through these past few months. How to win games. I think as fans all we wanted were honest efforts and we got those to the very end. We got a team who figured out how to compete with anyone. I’ve been yammering on about the need for a passing of the torch for a minute. All you need to do is look at the lineup Dave Cameron iced these past few months to see that the time has come.