I approached the pay phone cautiously, roll of quarters in hand. I took the Belle and Sebastian concert ticket stub out of my pocket and dialed the number that had been hastily scrawled on the back. Almost immediately, a computerized voice answered.
“Welcome to Your Karlsson Switchboard. If you know the extension you wish to reach, please enter it now.” I dutifully entered 4, 2, and 0 and waited.
Finally after 11 rings, an annoyed man picked up the phone. “If you don’t know how to turn common fruits and vegetables into a crack pipe, I don’t really want to talk to you right now.”
“Hello, James,” I replied.
James’ tone lightened immediately. “Luke Peristy! Or should I say ‘Luke Princely’! Just the man I wanted to talk to. You’re an engineer, so tell me: is an avocado rind going to have the thermodynamic properties required to get this crack on the boil?”
“You trying to make crack-amole?”, I quipped.
James sighed. “I hate you. Look, Chet and I got a little loose last night and long story short I’ve got to figure out some way to freebase using this pile of compost or I owe Chet fifty bucks. You’re calling from a pay phone, right?”
“Yeah, of course. My advice is see if you can find any bones in there and use that. Although you’ve currently got a pile of compost in your office so I think Chet’s already won, to be honest. I wanted to talk to you about something though. It’s about the internet.”
“Yeah? What about the internet?”
“Someone is wrong. The world must be told.”
“Funny you say that. We’re kinda building our brand around that sort of thing. We’re calling it ‘Actually’. You want in? It would be our pleasure to Welcome You to Your Karlsson Years.”
“James,” I said, “I thought you’d never ask.”
Friends, bring it in. Take a knee. Unroll your yoga mat and look away from me in a Half Lords of the Fishes Pose because you want me to talk to the hand. Find your natural resting state because we’re going to have a chat.
Coming out of the All-Star Break I made a point of publicizing my boundless optimism. I said “This team’s got +50% possession under Dave Cameron and a slate of 11 eminently winnable games coming up, so if there was as time for a little run to be had, this is it.” Since that time, my faith has been rewarded by a 5-5-1 stretch which sent Ottawa’s playoff odds plummeting before recovering slightly. As it stands, Ottawa has a roughly 8% chance both to make the playoffs and 5% chance to draft Connor McDavid. These odds are infuriating as they are not so small as to be completely out of the question, but still small enough that fantasizing about spring hockey in Ottawa or Connor McDavid in a Sens jersey is a waste of one’s mental and emotional energy. Worst of both worlds! Get hype!
The good news is that unlike last year, Ottawa’s dropped out of the playoff race early enough that The Bryan and Associates (Ed note: Not a real law firm) won’t be tempted to trade a 2nd rounder for an expiring asset in an overly optimistic attempt to “go for it” or “make a push”. We didn’t even have to blow a 4-1 lead to the Habs to get to this point! #Blessed
Yes, the Sens are definitely sellers this year, although whether or not any of the players the Sens want to sell will actually get sold remains to be seen. It would be interesting to see what the market for Chris Neil and Chris Phillips would be if they weren’t out with a thumb injury and
general shittiness wear and tear respectively.
(Aside: Even before The Chrisses (Chrisii?) hit the shelf, it was unlikely they were going to go get traded, which means I must ask: how crazy is it that two players, whose greatest contribution to the team at this point is ostensibly leadership, don’t want to be traded to a Cup contending team? What’s the message here? “Winning the Cup is what we all play for. Unless you own a local restaurant, in which case you’re gonna want to make sure you oversee that baby in your spare time, and you can’t do that from Nashville, let me tell you.” Nothing about that situation makes sense to me, except the idea that no one actually wants to trade for Chris Phillips.)
Anyway, having circled my point like Dave Cameron trying communicate where the puck should go on the powerplay, and with the trade deadline only a week away, I feel the need to make an observation: Whenever trade rumours start to swirl in Ottawa, I’ve noticed that the phrase “Bryan Murray type player” always seems to come up at some point.
Kind of want Ottawa to trade for Zack Kassian. Seems like a Bryan Murray type player. Also young and may need a change of scenery.
— James Creighton (@ThatFishCreigh) February 3, 2015
Charlie Coyle seems like the kind of player that Bryan Murray would acquire. Big power forward type with pedigree with meh track record. — The 6th Sens (@6thSens) January 9, 2015
This phenomenon isn’t just limited to Twitter.
The Bryan Murray Type Player seems to be thought of as a blunt instrument, someone you can point at the net with intent to destroy in the hope the puck goes in the net incidentally, a player big of body and small of skill. Admittedly, The Bryan’s LEGENDARY negotiations for Chris Stewart have done nothing to disabuse anyone of the notion that Bryan Murray is all about that bass and/or Colin Greening But Better Type Players. However, this is where I Gotta Hit You With The Mad Actually™: There is no such thing as The Bryan Murray Type Player. Let’s take a look at some of the players The Bryan has acquired during his time as GM.
Group A: Deadline Rentals Acquired to Prop Up a Crumbling Season
Cory Stillman (Acquired via trade, Ales Hemksy before there was Ales Hemsky)
Mike Commodore (Acquired via trade, rocked awesome ginger afro but not the score sheet)
Martin Lapointe (Acquired via trade, was old)
Matt Cullen (Acquired via trade, didn’t suck)
Ales Hemsky (Acquired via trade, was the piece of rope the Senators tried to make a playoff push with last year)
Group B: Puck Moving Defensemen
Erik Karlsson (THA GAWD, acquired via draft, the earthly manifestation of perfection)
Patrick Wiercioch (Acquired via draft, the earthly manifestation of Corsi related arguments)
Filip Kuba (Acquired via trade, played with Erik Karlsson then GOT PAID then got bought out)
David Rundblad (Acquired via draft trade, made a sweet pass once)
Sergei Gonchar (Acquired via free agency, got booed at the home opener once)
Joe Corvo (Acquired via free agency, pretty cool guy)
Cody Ceci (Acquired via draft, actually kinda decent, also only 21 years old)
Group C: Players Entirely Known for Being Small
Ryan Shannon (Acquired via trade)
Corey Locke (Acquired via free agency, Ottawa legend)
Andre Benoit (Acquired via free agency, Binghamton/Colorado legend)
Cory Conacher (Acquired via trade, guy people will never forgive for not being Ben Bishop even though Bishop was going to walk at the end of the year anyway so whatever)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (Acquired via draft, has a cult following L. Ron Hubbard would be jealous of)
Group D: Defensemen Who Are Chris Campoli, Alex Picard, or Matt Gilroy
Chris Campoli (acquired via trade)
Alex Picard (acquired via trade)
Matt Gilroy (acquired via trade)
Group E: Big Scary Defensemen Who May or May Not Have Strong Feelings Regarding Experts
Matt Carkner (Acquired via free agency, had two signature playoff moments)
Andy Sutton (Acquired via trade, first Ottawa Senator who actually inspired fear of injury in opponents)
Dave Dziurzynski (Acquired via free agency, originator of the little known “i before u” grammatical rule, also not actually a defenseman which you probably didn’t even notice or maybe I’m just projecting)
Jared Cowen (Acquired via draft, frequent object of scorn who will only become The Next Chara after Ottawa trades him as is dictated in the Necronomicon)
Mark Borowiecki (Acquired via draft, fills Eric Gryba’s role despite the fact the team already has Eric Gryba on it)
Group F: Players Acquired for Dany Heatley
Jonathan Cheechoo (Acquired via trade, tried hard, loved the game)
Milan Michalek (Acquired via trade, soon to be one of the longest serving active Senators)
Group G: “Skill” Players Who Were Disappointments
Alex Kovalev (Acquired via free agency and possibly Eugene Melnyk’s coke dreams)
Stephane Da Costa (Acquired via free agency, currently a KHL ЅUPEЯSTДЯ)
Nikita Filatov (Acquired via trade, didn’t do rebounds ALLEGEDLY)
Group H: “Skill” Players Who Were Not Disappointments
Kyle Turris (Acquired via trade, is now 1st line centre)
Bobby Ryan (Acquired via trade, is one of the best players on the team)
Mika Zibanejad (Acquired via draft, has more points than Clarke MacArthur this season, turns 22 in April)
Clarke MacArthur (Acquired via free agency, was the David Clarkson consolation prize)
Jakob Silfverberg (Acquired via draft, was the forward form of David Rundblad in that in was a slightly overrated Swede who was traded for someone much better)
Mike Hoffman (Acquired via draft, skates like the wind, you’re all probably hoping he’ll be your boyfriend one day)
Mark Stone (Acquired via draft, the guy you’ll settle for if things don’t work out with Mike Hoffman)
Group I: THANKS 4 READING
Rob Klinkhammer (Acquired via trade)
Mike Lundin (Acquired via free agency)
Guillaume Latendresse (Acquired via free agency, was ragged on more than u)
Alex Chiasson (Acquired via trade)
David Legwand (Acquired via free agency)
Group J: Facepunchers
Zenon Konopka (Acquired via free agency)
Matt Kassian (Acquired via trade because we had CHRIS PHILLIPS fighting dudes at one point)
Group K: Best of the Rest
Marc Methot (Acquired via trade, holds Erik Karlsson’s jacket while EK kicks the rest of the league’s ass)
Zack Smith (Acquired via draft, may or may not still exist, hasn’t been seen for years)
Curtis Lazar (Acquired via draft, has a thousand Watt smile, might only end up being a Rich Man’s Zack Smith, but he’s only 20 so let’s not put him in a box just yet)
Looking at that (close to exhaustive) list, I don’t know that there’s definitive conclusions that can be drawn other than that Bryan Murray’s a GM who believes that it takes a lot to make a stew. Hell, even in the year he selected Jared Cowen with a 1st round draft pick, there’s footage of the guy trying to draft Nazem Kadri instead. Who’s the player in the above that looks the most like canonical Bryan Murray player? Cory Conacher? David Legwand? Has Bryan Murray ever even acquired a Bryan Murray Player?
I think the takeaway here is that Bryan Murray’s not afraid to pull the trigger. He’ll deal from a position of strength to address a weakness (Methot trade, future Legwand/Wiercioch/Lazar/Cowen/Smith trade), he’ll roll the dice on a reclamation project (Filatov trade, Turris trade, future Yakupov trade), he’ll draft a smooth skating garbage pick in the first round (Erik Karlsson), and he’ll draft a guy who’s big as a battleship and just as maneuverable (Jared Cowen). The Bryan Murray player is the one he thinks will help his team. That’s the long and short of it.
So be afraid of Bryan Murray. He’s a loose cannon.
Except when it comes to to dealing Chris Neil. That guy is going nowhere.
I dunno. To me, when buds and I are doing “Bryan Murray Imitation Night” we always come down to one phrase: “He’s a good guy, a real good guy, a character guy, a real good character guy.” in his inimitable voice and accent. Murray really seems to like these pondersously slow plugs that have “character”, whatever the hell THAT is.
I really think that it’s Dorion or others that zoomed in on Karlsson and others. Given how the Senators don’t like analytics and overvalue character, I am looking forward to the next GM and have been for a long, long time.
Best Watiki post in a fortnight.
Counterpoint: The prototypical Bryan Murray player is a “top six forward.”
Source: Bryan Murray, when talking about team needs at the start of each season, end of each season, at the draft, and heading up to the trade deadline.