The Jail Phone: Real Talk About a Real G(M)

jail

Stringer: More like P.R. Dorion, feel me?                                    Avon: Not on the phone.

In which James and Luke burn all the topics they could have talked about individually from here to training camp. Hi, it’s still August. 

James:
Hi how’s your Sex Life? Oh. Let’s change the subject.
Since taking over as El Generalissimo just 5 months ago, Pierre Dorion has been a very busy human person. He did all of his things that he had on his To Do list and then some.  RELATABLE. Son really hit the ground running on an intimidating first few months on the job. Now that Pierre has done his part to set the table well in advance of training camp let us now do our job* and assholishly pick apart the major moves he’s made.

*LOLz

Clearing the decks of entire coaching staff, replacing them with The Guy Boucher Singers:

James:
And I mean the ENTIRE staff, my G. Even Binghamton’s Food and Beverage Coordinator.
Since Bryan Murray stepped down as coach following the 2007 season to focus on his duties as GM , the on-ice results have been not so premium pour les Senateurs.
The team has seen 5 coaches (6 if you count Murray’s second tour to finish out 2008) and one measly –but glorious AF- playoff round win. For my drachma, the decision on a new coach was the one with the most pressure facing the rookie general manager. Without having coached one game yet, who are we to pass judgement on – just kidding this is the Internet, serve up your scorching ass take on what you think of some of the coaching hires, Luke.

Luke: 
First of all, thank you for you concern regarding all aspects of my health. I appreciate it.

Secondly, let’s talk about the Binghamton Food and Beverage Coordinator for a minute. Have you SEEN this menu? $45 for a basket of fries? $11 (!!!) for a Mike’s Hard Lemonade? Did they start making Mike’s Hard out of unicorn tears? HOW YOU GONNA PUT A 22% SERVICE CHARGE ON A $70 VEGGIE AND DIP PLATTER, MY GUY? That is goddamn extortionate, and I, for one, applaud Dorion for putting an end to this highway robbery. #MakeBingoSkyboxesGreatAgain

Ok, now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s move onto the comparatively minor issue of The Entire Coaching Staff. Installing a new coaching staff is a no-brainer for any new GM who is looking to put their stamp (???) on a team. Add in the fact that Ottawa frequently looked like white hot garbage in it’s own zone and the fact Mark Borowiecki Once Played At Forward (A ghost story I will tell to my children), and it had to be done. What was more than a little curious to me was the fact that even goaltending coach Rick Walmsley was relieved of his duties. Ottawa’s goaltending development had frequently been praised by goaltenders other than Robin Lehner, so I wasn’t entirely sure why Dorion wanted to address an area that many considered a strength. On the other hand, Matt O’Connor didn’t exactly destroy the AHL last year, so maybe a new set of eyes and drills was warranted.
I’m glad you wrote me about this because I’ve been thinking a lot about coaching lately. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about the effect coaching can have on an individual player. We have more than a handful of examples where a coaching change has brought about noticeable differences in a player’s production and shot differentials. Just look at Sidney Crosby last year or Phil Kessel two years ago. Coaching and systems don’t really get talked about much in the context of player evaluation, but it’s clear there is some effect. This is very exciting to me because I think it’s possible that Guy Boucher is a Super-Genius.
I was in the tank pretty hard for Bruce Boudreau. His regular season success (the phrase “regular season” is contractually obligated to appear next to the word “success” when discussing Boudreau) with multiple teams over multiple seasons was pretty incontrovertible proof that the guy knows what he’s doing. That said, I really gotta give it up to Guy Boucher for nailing his interview and subsequent media appearances. Imagine you call this guy in from Switzerland and he gives you a three hour lecture and powerpoint presentation about your own hockey team. Who isn’t going to be impressed by that?
I also love the fact that Guy Boucher’s coaching philosophy seems to be “play to your strengths”. Steven Stamkos had a 60 goal season once, and Guy Boucher was his coach at the time. Let’s see what Super-Genius Guy Boucher can do with Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman. The powerplay and penalty kill can’t possibly be worse, so they’ll almost certainly be better right? Guy Boucher is gonna take us all the way, James!
My one extremely small, quite tiny concern is that Guy Boucher’s hockey teams seem to win right up until they don’t. Boucher made the Eastern Conference Finals in his first year as Tampa Bay’s head coach, missed the playoffs the next year, and then got fired 2/3rds of the way through the lockout season. In Switzerland, he coached SC Bern to a Swiss Cup in February and got fired in November. That aforementioned Stamkos 60 goal season happened during a year Tampa Bay didn’t even make the playoffs.
In more ways than one, Ottawa can’t afford to Bern (see what I did there?) through another head coach. I hope Boucher’s got the interpersonal skills to adjust to his team’s personality and to keep his approach fresh, and I hope his assistant coaches can compensate for whatever weakness he has in that area. Otherwise it’s likely Ottawa just hired Mike Keenan With Better Hair.

Still, if we’re grading #Process here, I gotta give Pierre Dorion a B+ for this one.

James:
The coaching staff still has a record of 0-0-0 so I give this a cautious A for A-ddressing (barf) the fact that the Sens haven’t had a head coach with NHL experience let alone NHL success in almost 10 years. He also got two coaches with NHL experience AND. I hope they can get along btw. For the hand wringing over losing Rick Wamsley and Luke Richardson, it sucks but goaltending nor the Bingo Sens did particularly well of late. These are Pierre’s people that’s for d_rn sure.

Moving forward…Did not qualify Patrice Wiercioch

James:
Can someone out there recommend me a good metric for measuring the degree to which a player completely fucking blew a contract year?
Ahh, the offensive defenseman and stats darling who SLIGHTLY underwhelmed in one statstical category: Points. Listen, my frustrations with Wiercioch are well documented. I’ll give it you straight like a pear cider made out of 100% pears: Like Peter Regin before him, you can choose to miss him because he had a couple of deec seasons and one good playoff round or you can just move on.

I am moving on because after his abysmal production relative to his role last season it would have been unacceptable for Dorion to agree his qualifying number. He let him walk and another team gave him the 800K he earned with his five points.

He’s not terrible but if you’re not a particularly tough stay at home defenseman you should probably put up some points. And by put up points I mean more goals than Mark Borowiecki (a total of zero to Boro’s one if you want to be a dick about it, which I do).
Can he bounce back and be DEEC for the Avalanche? Sure. But DEEC, nothing more. It’s okay to let go of DEEC players from time to time. Andre Benoit put up 28 points (better than PW’s career best) with the Avs the year after Ottawa let him go, no one cared. Anyway, in conclusion, after that season, I don’t really see what Wier would have brought to that 3rd pairing that Chris Wideman wont.

Luke: 

How is it August 24 in The Year of Our Lord 2016 and I’m still being forced to have Patrick Wiercioch takes? He had good shot differentials, but somehow was exceedingly average at both individual defense and individual offense creation. (Note in the second link: Wideman is second only to Erik Karlsson on the Sens in terms of his ability to create shots for himself and others.) Ask me what Patrick Wiercioch’s #FancyStats were and I’d tell you they were good. Ask me what he was good at, and I’d be unable to tell you. I’d have loved to keep him on the 3rd pairing, but some birds were not meant to be caged. Ultimately, if you’re not sure what a guy brings to the table, it’s tough to justify keeping him at the table at the cost of Whatever PW’s Qualifying Offer Was That I’ve Forgotten Because I’d Rather Remember Anything Else.

Speaking of which…

Trading Alex Chiasson for a Real Boy. A. REAL. BOY.

James:
Traded him for a real boy, Luke. I’ve heard this hockey jewel that if you’re a middling NHL player and you get traded fairly early in your career you will continue to be traded for the rest of it. I see that future for Chaser. Ideal hockey size, good at deflections, kind of invisible outside of that. Related: Welcome to the Sens family, Tom Pyatt!
Hard to have a problem with Dorion managing to trade a player on an expiring deal he wasn’t going to extend while addressing defensive depth with a player who has actually seen NHL ice and also freeing up roster space for the, at this stage, more promising Lazar. So what I’m saying is, trading Alex Chiasson is the kind of fuck up that will haunt Pierre Dorion for the rest of his career. But in all seriousness, look for Chiasson to score one (or two) of his 7 goals this season on Thursday January 26th when Ottawa hosts the Flames because FMFingL.

Luke: 
Getting anything back for Chiasson goes down as W in my books. For all of Alex Chiasson’s physical tools, I can’t think of a hockey player I’ve watched who did less with more. Maybe this is overly harsh, but Chiasson was an uninspiring beige force in the lineup last year and I look forward to his spot being replaced by someone who is actually going to try to do something with it.

Best of luck something something future endeavours etc., and you’ll see no ill will out of me if he goes on to be a highly productive member of someone else’s hockey team.
James: 

You’re firm but fair. Like a Yung Judge Mills Lane in his prime…of being a Daytime TV show judge.

Now let’s address one of the most controversial moves of the off-season that rocked the hockey world.

Signing Christ Kelly

James:
So, apparently the Sens needed a stabilizing veteran presence on the 4th line. So that, you know, reflects well on Chris Neil (973 GP). I don’t hate this signing. Who hates it? Who could haaaaaaaate it? I’ma cheer LOUDLY when he gets announced at the home opener. I was very sad when he got traded. I confess he was a real favorite of mine back in the day. *Looks wistfully at framed desk photo of JG Pageau* I guess I just have a thing for extremely competent bottom 6 centres. Still, I am a little edgy about my nostalgia and love for Kells obscuring the reality that he is coming back from a devastating broken femur bone (barrrf) injury. Returning at a more advanced age than others who’ve overcome it like Dany Heatley’s Nuermberg Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers teammate AND GOOD, BEAUTIFUL CARP, ONTARIO BOY AND EVERYTHINK LIKE THAT, Kurtis Foster. What if Kelly ain’t Kelly no mores and actually sucks and doesn’t improve the PK and makes that Legwandian heel turn and morphs into the slow old guy that we all blame for our life’s problems via sport? I don’t want to live in a world where I’m pissed at Chris Kelly every other night.

How do I REALLY feel about this Luke? Show me the way to Take Town. I’ll hang up my computer and listen.

Luke:
I guess the scariest thing about the Chris Kelly signing is the fact that it’s only good given assumptions we don’t know are true, assumptions like “Chris Kelly can still be a useful depth forward at age 35”. Hmm…I don’t know about that. Let’s try some positivity. Yes, Kelly suffered a devastating broken femur last year that required a 6-8 month recovery period, but at least he’s coming into camp well-rested? Hmmm…..this isn’t going too well.

Dorion’s made some moves this off-season that were calculated risks, but this feels like a case of playing it too safe. It feels like he just looked at the list of UFAs and said “Oh Chris Kelly, I remember him. Get me that guy’s agent on the phone.” when there were players like Sam Gagner or Jiri Hudler still available. On the other hand, you can’t beat that price point of $900,000 for one year.

I think the risk in this deal comes down to how good Chris Kelly needs to be to keep the bottom 6 average. If he’s frequently scratched, will the bottom 6 be ok, or do the Sens need him to come in and play like he did back when he was still wearing this jersey? I worry it’s the latter, which means there’s a lot riding on the steel plate in that dude’s leg.

Grade: C-. This is the Dorion move I’m least happy with.

James:
Chilling stuff, Jack that was like reading a Goosebumps…I mean…Go Sens Go! Plowing ahead to the next tiny little off season move…
Trading Mickey Banana Jazz and a 2nd for Derick (sic) Brassard
James: 

Oh, we gamblin’ now.

I gotta take my backward Kangol cap off to Dorion for doing all the shit that was required of him while not being boring or complacent about it. This is a move the likes of which we havent seen since Bryan Murray blockbusters such as Rundblad & a second for Turris or Lehner for Buffalo’s first round pick or The People vs. Silfverberg and Noesen plus a first round pick for Bobby Ryan. I digress.

I’ve spent many braincells I could have been killing with alcohol OR WHO KNOWS WHAT SPICE defending Zibanajad, his ceiling and his only 22 years oldness. Now he’s gone for a statistically comparable but older dude AND GOOD, BEAUTIFUL HULL, KWABECK BOY AND EVERYTHINK LIKE THAT Derick Brassard.

Truly our new Team Overlord’s boldest move thus far. It’s definitely a factory-wrapped “you gotta give to get” trade. I hated it at first because I’ve grown quite attached to Ziba over the years. So much development invested plus we had to endure a very, very shitty season in order to pick him at no.6 overall in 2011. The more I think about it though the more I see the strategy. Much like a skilled right hand shot defender, to have a well balanced team you can’t ice a line up without a skilled left handed centre. What’s that? Oh, we did that last year. How did the power play finish? *THINKING EMOJI*
Zibanejad is awesome but the thing I’ve had to keep reminding myself is that we didn’t trade him for Corey Conacher or some shit. Brassard was the Rangers leading scorer last year. Scoring is not even his forte, more of a play maker apparently so…blessed is the play making 27 goal scorer?

I think he’s likely going to be a better fit for the team and Ottawa was never going to get a lefty centre of Brassard’s quality on the free agent market. His contract is also great and not overly long. Added bonus: should the Sens make the playoffs in their GARBAGE division, you have to love Brassards rich creamery post-season numbers.
The fact that the Sens have drafted burly, two way centremen in the first round of the past 3 drafts provides a bit a hint of the next phase to this plan. Still a gamble as all trades are but I get it and I’m frankly lowkey excited about it. If we end up liking him half as much as Rangers fans seem to, it should make it easier to forget about Mika. Oh, speaking of whom, look for Mika Zibanejad to score a natural hat trick in under 2 minutes when Ottawa hosts the New York Rangers on Saturday April 8th on HNIC because FMFingL.

Luke:
Most of the moves Dorion’s made so far had a degree of difficulty of about 0.2. You don’t have to be the sort of next level GM who can see through The Matrix to realize you should get rid of under-performing personnel and re-sign the players who are good. The Zibanejad trade though…the Zibanejad trade took some real GM-ing to pull off. Faced with a looming contract crunch on several RFAs, Dorion had to assess that centre was an area of strength for the team in the long-term, and then persuade another team to give up their leading scorer in exchange for an Ottawa prospect who is gonna make more money on his next contract. All this to get the legendary centre for Bobby Ryan. I really hope this handedness angle pans out, and if the extent to which Mats Zuccarello benefited from playing on Brassard’s right wing is any indication, I think it will.

I said pretty much everything else I had to say about the trade here.
This trade gets an F in my heart and a B+ in my head.

 

Re-Signing Mike Hoffman

James:
Hey, on behalf of all Sens bloggers at the edge of the off-season desert, I just want to give a quick shout out to human man P. Dorion for signing Mike Hoffman to a contract that it is impossible to have an opinion about. Hoffman’s back for 4 more years. Just like we all predicted the night The Hoff ice grilled Dave Cameron instead of celebrating his goal after spending the 3rd period benched against Florida City. Seriously tho…is it too early for an A+++? Highkey, I thought that in order to have a prayer’s chance of getting this done for less than Bobby Ryan prices I thought Dorion was going to have to offer him Bobby Ryan term. Keeping in mind that Hoffman is turning 27 this year and he managed to sign him for 4 years? Just wow to this shit. This signing was most vital to keeping the Sens chances of being DEEC alive going forward. Bravo. Imagine he didn’t get this thing done? Your 2016-17 Ottawa Senators: “Alright Ryan Dzingel go out there and have FUN!” *Danger Flutes*

Luke: 
Mike Hoffman’s next deal overshadowed EVERYTHING last season. Every time Mike Hoffman scored a goal, or didn’t score a goal, or glowered at Dave Cameron, or got benched, or didn’t get enough powerplay time, or got powerplay time, or told an Ottawa real estate agent that he was only looking to rent at this time, the underlying question was always “What does this mean for Mike Hoffman’s next contract?”. It even started to look like the answer to those questions was “What contract?”. As recently as March, Elliotte (sic) Friedman wrote “Are we looking at the final 15 games of Mike Hoffman’s tenure in Ottawa? Sure looks like it.” What a time that was. As I said to a Sens Store employee in March, “Well, this year has been the greatest calamity on the face of the earth since the last Robin Thicke album, but at least I have the looming departure of one of our best players to look forward to. Anyway, how much for this Scott Gomez shirsey?”

In return for our emotional turmoil, we received Mike Hoffman for four more years (Four more years! Four more years!) on a deal that is unfuckwithable. The term is, as you pointed out, perfect, and even if Hoffman does not improve, he’ll still be a great value player on a team that needs a lot of great value players.

I hope the Sens front office has player evaluation skills that are at least DEEC because early indications are that Pierre Dorion is tha contract negotiation GAWD.

Grade: A++. If drafting Erik Karlsson is Dorion’s Aja, the Hoffman contract is Pretzel Logic.

James: 
Now let us move on to the contract that could end up either his “Katy Lied” or his “Everything Must Go” …god, who is this blog for at this point? ANYWAY —>

Re-Signing Kobe CC.

James:
This is the Hoffman Contract Lite. Meaning to a slightly lesser degree, if you have a fuego take on why you don’t like this deal, you might consider shutting yourself and your kids the fuck up out of respect for the community. I have actually read some commenters out there moaning about the salary jump to $3.35M in the second year of the deal being a rip off and that it will end up “Wiercioching” (actual word I saw used) his next contract. K, stop my music – If Cody Ceci is not a second pairing defenseman who’s worth 3.5 to 4 million dollars in two full seasons from now well he can catch the ol’ PW Express to the bottom pairing of a non-playoff Western Conference team.
Remember Cowen getting offered 8 years by noted moneypuck genius Tim Murray? Glad they ended up settling on a REASONABLE 4 year deal that caps out a REASONABLE 4.5 million in salary this season? Yes, Jared Cowen will make just 400K less than Marc Methot this year. That’s how delicate these contracts are. Just a four year deal can turn out to be a massive disaster. Taking the wait and see approach with the two year ‘prove it’ deal was perfect. If he doesn’t prove it, the team can move on. My money’s on that he has what it takes. The kid is 22 and spent half the year paired with either a guy who played himself off the team or a guy who played himself out of the league.

Luke: 
I’ve read all the criticisms of Cody Ceci and I just can’t believe that a kid with that skating ability and puck skill is going to have bad possession numbers forever. I can’t do it. How you gonna tell me that the player someone is at 22 is the same player they’re going to be at 26? Player development is black magic dark arts stuff that’s highly dependent on individual-specific factors, but it’s definitely a thing that exists. Players improve. I remember back when Patrick Wiercioch was good, he talked about how working with veteran Sergei Gonchar helped grow his game. How about we sign Cody Ceci up for Being A Mean Bastard classes with Dion Phaneuf and see what happens. In a worst case scenario, there are ways of taking even the most defensively deficient players and making them useful. Justin Schultz is a Stanley Cup winner! You’re telling me Cody Ceci can’t be Justin Schultz good? Come on, Cody. Let’s get to defending some of these clowns.

All this to say, I approve of Cody Ceci’s bridge deal and everything you said about it.

James: 

Thx 4 agreeading, Luke.

It’s August what do you say we do one more for cultural purposes…

 

Flipping a 3rd round pick to the Devils to move up and draft Logan Brown at 11th o’erall.

James:
I know, I know, “Area GM makes selection in first round of draft” isn’t really a move on the level of Ziba for Brassard. Still, flipping NJ a 3rd to move up in round 1 is not insignificant. A couple months back I read a thing on The Hockey News dot co dot ck (registered in The Cook Islands, m8) on “Winners and Losers At This Years Draft.” As an Ottawa Senators fan reading any kind of mainstream hockey media, I clicked the link to find out why they thought the Sens were losers. SPOILER: They thought the Sens were losers! Why? Well, who(m)ever wrote the thing blessed us with the wild #ACTUALLY that NJ probably wasn’t going to draft Logan Brown anyway [Ed. Note: K] so PD was a fool to surrender that 3rd rounder he could have used to draft this year’s model of Jakub Culek to ensure he got the player he wanted in round 1. SAD!
What does your juicy chess club brain think of this?

Luke: 
My personal theory on Flipgate™ (the scandal that rocked the draft) is that the Sens offered their 1st round + 3rd round pick to move up a number of times and New Jersey just happened to be the team that called them back. I like this move because there’s something for everyone. Draft Models Are Jesus Types get to say “The Sens lost this trade by approximately 0.72 Replacement Players”, and Old-Timey Scout Types get to say “That’s the human difference right there. The Sens got their player.”. The best part is that everyone is correct! The Sens DID make a terrible trade from a pick-for-pick perspective and they DID get the player they wanted! Lukewarm (because my name is Luke) Take: If the player the Sens wanted is good, no one is going to care about the 3rd round pick.

Personally, I like the fact the Sens drafted someone about whom they said “This guy was so high on our board, we couldn’t risk missing out on him.” even if they had to trade sub-optimally to do it.
SENS ORG: We are super excited about this player we scouted extensively and then drafted.
THE HATERS: You are an irrational actor in this market. Your inefficiency will be punished by The Model’s true believers.
ME: I choose………………………………excitement.
Grade: I/C. Final grade will be given upon completion of Logan Brown’s development.

Pierre Dorion’s GPA for the Summer Semester: B+.

James: 
Well I give it a —

Luke:
*dial tone*

4 thoughts on “The Jail Phone: Real Talk About a Real G(M)

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