I was going to make a Jared Cowen joke but he made the joke himself by being a -7 through the two massacres by Detroit and Boston
Movie edition (because the Oscars were last week or something, I don’t know)
Spezza gets sentimental after having to leave the love of his life (he shall who not be named)
“I’m an…I’m an excellent player.”
Get it? Because Stanley Kubrick was notorious for taking an insane amount of shots (also because Andy is slowly driftin into madness with these 40+ shot games)
I think we’re all just cautiously positive right now and that isn’t a bad thing.
This game recap was delayed a day because I was too full of birthday alcohol to be funny, so get ready to be disappointed all over again (which coincidentally is the Sens new slogan for March, I hear). As proof of my drunken sadness here is a picture of the only notes I made in preparation for this post:
Bonus: Story of the Game
Having two related Murrays in GM roles is a convenient way to contrast approaches to building an NHL team. While we’ll never know the degree to which Tim Murray was involved in the decision making in Ottawa, what we do know is that in 2010-2011, when Ottawa finished 5th last in the league, they declined to sell off a number of their veterans—Chris Phillips, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and the newly acquired Craig Anderson—and go full rebuild. Instead, they traded Mike Fisher for a late 1st round pick, Chris Kelly for a second, and salary dumped Jarkko Ruutu and Alexei Kovalev for late picks. By the end of the 2011 draft, their rebuild was entirely comprised of the sixth overall pick, and two late first rounders.
In a lot of ways, this was totally defensible. Ottawa had almost as many points separating them from dead last as they did from a playoff spot. They weren’t a catastrophe; they were just one of many mediocre teams in this league. Ottawa settled for their meager picks, the emergence of Erik Karlsson as a stud defenceman, and the notion that once you make the playoffs, anything can happen. Ottawa looked at their future and decided to be a bubble team sooner than a contender later. Buffalo, in the same situation, could have re-signed Miller, kept those veterans who wanted to stay, drafted 1st overall this season and hoped for the best. Tim Murray took the other option. He set the house on fire.
And Ottawa’s choice may just reflect the reality of a mid-sized market team without a Pegula to stand on. (Sorry.) Eugene Melnyk surely had no appetite for four or five years of basement finishes and terrible financial returns in the name of a complete rebuild. Bryan Murray, in the twilight of his career, would surely rather go for it than be the Overseer of Rebuild: Phase One. All of this is fine. You do the best with the cards you’re dealt.
But here we are, just three years later, and the returns of the mini-rebuild are pretty much exhausted. Zibanejad is a good player with lots of room to grow, though not someone you build around. Noesen and Silfverberg are gone in the Bobby Ryan trade. Matt Puempel is in the minors, shaping up nicely as a complementary scorer. Ottawa now looks to several mid- to lower-tier prospects, like Mike Hoffman, while preaching the importance of the pipeline. Cody Ceci and Curtis Lazar are promising, but nobody is winning championships on their backs. Ottawa’s status as a middle-of-the-pack team is secure.
Contrast this with Buffalo, where everything not tied down is out the door for draft picks. Tim Murray not only has quality picks, but also quantity. I think he gets to make a sour face at the podium 12 times in the first two rounds over the next two drafts. This is in addition to Buffalo already selecting twice in the first round last season, and already having excellent young players like Grigorenko to build around. You could see a scary Buffalo team in a few years…
…or maybe you won’t. Ask Oilers or Islanders fans how that goes. Rebuilds are not a sure thing, and a few years is a long time to wait to find out. As a fan of hockey, I wouldn’t be particularly interested in soul-crushing awfulness for that long. And make no mistake that it’s going to be a painful few years in Buffalo.
But the point is that, even though a rebuild is not a sure thing, it’s a shot: an opportunity that comes along maybe once every decade. Rare is the opportunity where ownership, the fans, and management are aligned in their willingness to be terrible in the service of eventual greatness. When Ottawa had their chance, they didn’t take it. Even this year, given the opportunity to trade Chris Phillips – an old, soft, poor-possession third pairing defenseman – Bryan Murray decided to re-up for two more years. It’s just sort of sinking in for me…Ottawa is comfortable with being mediocre.
So we are what we are: a bubble team at best, who hopes for lightning in a bottle come playoff time, and who are at least another 3-4 years from the next opportunity to rebuild. We may bother a higher seed and occasionally go to the second round. We’ll bring in decent prospects like Lazar to replace the players we lose to free agency or ineffectiveness, but we won’t have these players at the same time, and we won’t have blue-chippers. I think the best we can hope for is to compete for a cup in…what, 2022, five years after the rebuild we launch in three years, if we decide to go for it then?
This isn’t a criticism of management, understand. Ottawa doesn’t have the money or the patience for a rebuild. And I saw a good comment on Twitter about how Ottawa still has a lot of flexibility and interesting opportunities in the offseason this year. (And, Jah-bless, we still have Karlsson.) But it’s about managing expectations. I, for one, feel much more comfortable heading into every season hoping for a low playoff seed at best and just enjoying hockey for what it is. What other choice do we have?
It was the Hemsky of times it was the Phillips re-signing of times.
Well, we’ve had lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fun with this trade deadline bologna and here we are. One Ales Hemsky richer and one Phillips…here-er…for two more friggin years-er.
Well, it’s been tough focusing on tonight’s game what with the whole “not knowing what the teams are going to look like” thing surrounding it. Very crafty PR move by the Senators to have the Trade Deadline be today in order to distract from BEING SWEPT IN THE FUCKING SEASON SERIES AGAINST THE EDMONTON OILERS RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! Karma from sweeping the Blues? Anyway, surely Ottawa can beat the frigging Calgary Flambés tonight, right? I don’t know anything about anything anymore. Speaking of which…
This is the part where I talk about Ales Hemsky!
So, welcome, Ales Hemsky. Ima come clean, like Bobby Ryan before him, this is a trade that Ottawa’s been rumored to be in on for a minute that I’ve been hoping would get done. I think they got him super cheap too. It’s admittedly pretty fucked up that the Sens playoff chances are super slim after last night’s disappointing loss so the decisi–
OOH! A telegraph came in, its from…why, it’s from YOU!
Hemsky’s a UFA at the end of the season <stop>
If Ottawa doesn’t make the post-season, what’s to be gained by this? <stop>
Need your optimistic guidance, Boo <stop>
Page me sometime. <stop>
*10 minutes pass with me in The Thinker position*
Okay, I thought of something!
Entertainment value. *Everyone quietly closes their browser window* Hey, even if duder is just a rental (LIKELY!!) at least we’ll have a winger playing with Spezza who’s trying to earn his next contract. With no 1st round pick this year, might as well play spoiler for the rest of the season. Who knows, maybe he’s a great fit and we re-sign him.
Anyway, if the Sens don’t make the playoffs it’s not like I’m going to stop going to games (FINICKY!!!) so I’ll be happy to watch this top six for the rest of the season:
MacArthur – Turris – Ryan
Michalek – Spezza – Hemsky.
Here’s the part where I talk about Chris Phillips.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you that not only would Big Rig not be traded but he’d be re-signed for more than one year – my assholish column here
Okay that’s sorted.
Craig Anderson gets the start in goal for the second straight game. I mean it’s worked in the past right? What’s that? Hasn’t worked for Andy or Lehner? Hm’kaiihee.
You know Lehner has looked bad when he can’t even get a start in the second game in a back to back against the Flames after the other guy just lost to the Oilers. YEEEEEAAAAASH. THIS SEAAASON HAS BEEN FRUSTRATING.
Joni Orito *shrug* will get the call in net for Calgary. It is his 2nd NHL game, his first being a 2-0 loss to LA. I shouldn’t feel as nervous as I do, slump breakers that we are.
Obviously the big story tonight is getting to see Spezza play with a quality winger. No disrespect Colin Greening *laugh track* …until something goes wrong and Paul MacLean moves Hemsky down to Smith and puts Neiler back where he belongs, with a cerebral playmaker like Spezz.
Seriously though, I’m really excited. Hemsky’s a bit of a confusing move because of his UFA status at the end of the season but we’ve each and every last one of us wanted to see an improved top 6 and for at least for a minute we’ve got one.
Hemsky will get no more than a pre-game skate to adjust to his new centre so expectations are WELL managed but at least he knows Michalek from Czechoslovakia (source Wickedpedia.biz). Really looking forward to it.
Here’s hoping that MacArthur – Turris – Ryan are kept together tonight because I LOVE when the Sens win games.
Calgary will have a couple of newbies in the mix tonight calling up Corban Knight and Max Reinhart from the AHL. Yep that’s what’s new with Calgary on trade deadline day because they didn’t move Mike Cammalleri, Chris Butler or Lee Stempniak because rebuild. Bryan Murray had better watch out because Burkie will be WELL RESTED tonight.
Hmmmmm what elllllllllllllllllllllllllllllse?
Oh yeah Erik Karlsson came ever closer to uh…my goal of scoring 20 goals on the season with his 17th last night. He’s on pace for 22 and as I mentioned earlier Joni Orito is starting so…
Hey, want to know something else neat about EK? Okay, well, he’s got 19 points in his last 19 games because he’s fucking incredible.
Enjoy the game and GO ALES AND THE SENSKYS!
Sometimes I think I won’t ever understand the NHL.
Cory Conacher is a young, cheap player who had a very promising rookie season just last year. He was promising enough that Ottawa would give up a goaltender who dominated in the AHL and looked very, very good in NHL spot duty. He was promising enough that people took Yzerman to town for being fleeced in that same trade. And now he’s gone. For nothing.
Granted, Conacher’s numbers aren’t great this season — playing top line minutes and with great talent, he’s on pace to be less than a 30 point player, and he has only 4 goals. And, this is likely just a preamble to another deal, a move to make room for incoming additions.
But I can’t help but ask…how can a team not get at least a late round pick for a player who was so highly valued, and so recently? He still has decent possession numbers, and possibly the intangibles to make a difference. (He seems to get under the Habs’ skin every time.) Is he really worth less than, say, Matt Hendricks?
Ottawa may or may not make prudent, measured moves on or before the trade deadline on Wednesday – only time will tell. But one thing is for sure: Bryan Murray sure as hell has no motivation to be either prudent or measured. Not totally unlike a banana republic dictator, the last challenge to Bryan Murray’s rule – his nephew, Tim – has been removed. Conditions have been created wherein Murray has no obligation to look out for the next generation. After all,the next generation now works for Pegula’s Sabres.
Look at how carefully Robin Lehner’s development was managed. It was important to not only give him an established starter under whom to study, but when the organization traded for Ben Bishop, they also gave Lehner competition. The job was not automatically his to inherit.
The principle, to some degree, applies here. How do you keep a GM from pushing in all of the organization’s chips and going for it, even if the team has only, say, a 20% chance of making the playoffs? Having an heir apparent on the team is useful, because that person can be a voice for restraint. Even better if that voice belongs to family. Bryan wouldn’t screw over Tim for one last shot at a Cup before he retires, would he?
But now, to whom is Murray accountable? On the last contract if his career, with a stockpile of prospects at his disposal, and a Stanley Cup conspicuously missing from his resume, the elder Murray may be compelled to mortgage the future for one last shot.
Is that even a mistake? I’m of two minds. On one hand, with the prices commanded at the deadline, the odds that Ottawa will come out net positive on any transaction is incredibly slim. Also, I’m not convinced a Chris Stewart or Matt Moulson turns a mediocre team into a contender.
…while on the other hand, I think Ottawa’s real chance to become a contender was back during the great sell-off. While Ottawa did well to draft three times in the first round, the fact that veterans like Phillips, Neil, Anderson, and Spezza stuck around means they didn’t get to do what Tim Murray is doing now in Buffalo: bring in a generation of top tier players to develop together. Having missed that chance, then what the hell: why not trade a scoring specialist prospect like Matt Puempel, who may never make the NHL, for a rental? Swing for the fences.
Whatever the case, Bryan Murray is king in Ottawa now. The only challenge to his rule has been exiled (not the right word,considering the billions Tim has to play with in Buffalo…) and even if Bryan sets the franchise on fire, he’s a year or two removed from transitioning to an advisory role. Secession planning has been thrown to the winds; let’s hope Bryan Murray isn’t set on going out in a blaze of glory.