Retro Hockey Theatre: Oct 8th 1992, Birth of a Nation

Not sure how many of you die hard Senators fans realize this but the CBC broadcast of the first Sens game is available on Itunes. Possibly the best $1.99 I’ve ever spent. Join me won’t you? As I narrate a hockey game that was oh so much more.

Puck Drop: Lines are Brady, Hull and Turgeon to start. 3 guys with last names synonymous with sports royalty. Hull would go on to be the longest tenured original Senator… 4 years.

19:25: And welcome to the Kerry Fraser show as he sequesters Ken Hammond and not long after Darcy Loewen for holding infractions. Loewen’s infraction  occurs directly in front of the Loeb Club advertisement. I still have my cookie club membership card.

17:30 3 minor penalties killed off successfully. I should mention Bob Cole and Harry Neale are manning the microphones tonight, joined by the great Dick Irvin who I hope gets carried everywhere he goes with those two since he carries them exclusively in the booth.

10:50 Patrick Roy never met a save he couldn’t embellish. This is probably the one and only time he spent a period being outplayed by Peter Sidorkiewicz.

8:25: Based on his current dominance of the lead footed sens I think it is safe to say this isn’t the last we’ll hear from Oleg Petrov. Seriously, he’s road runner-ing the sens right now.

End of the first period. Two tentative teams featuring very busy penalty killers. Pretty obvious there were rule changes and additional points of emphasis during the prior off season. On an unrelated note, why doesn’t Kerry Fraser’s hair have a fake twitter account yet?

Second Period

19:34 And there it is the first goal in modern Sens history. On fresh ice Neil Brady double taps the puck into the yawning cage. He would only go on to score 7 more that season. His first and last as a Senator.

16:15 – Kerry Fraser with the 4th dubious call on the Sens in the first 30 minutes. Thus begins the no lube era.

15:25 – Wait, hold everything! Incontrovertible evidence that Fraser can call a dive as he sends Petrov off. This creates a 4-3 on the power play for the sens, which should open things up as much as can be expected for a team on its way to losing 70 games.

13:03 – Behold! The patient zero of d-bag Montreal fans attending Sens games. Even if this guy does live in Montreal, the damage is done. A new generation operating with the understanding that its okay to fill your home barn but cheer for the opposing team.

9:56 – Goal! Doug Smail nets the second marker for the sens. One of 4 he’d go on to score that year, his final in the NHL. It’s not all bad news though. Smail would go on to record 169 points in 93-94 in 53 games for the Fife Flyers on the British Hockey League…good for second place on his own team. What the fuck Britain? Get your Smail together!

9:15 – Short lived euphoria here as Mike Keane hammers home a shot that ends up deflecting of defenceman Mark Osiecki…which is a life-altering sentence to type… 2-1 Sens.

8:00 – Bob and Harry are absolutely making love to the various synonyms for “terrible” while describing the shit sack sens. Current euphemism count as follows: Feisty: 13, Gritty: 10, Ethic: 7. Pretty dry stretch in the middle period here, much like the mid point of the first. Darcy Loewen’s mullet continues to inspire however.

If you’re wondering when the Ottawa fans picked up on the wave. Well, like all waves it’s origins were organic. Even in a staduim that features a wall.

4:25 – Ken Hammond is going Ken H.A.Mmond in this game! Off a tremendous pinch the big fella pots one to make it 3-1. He even flashes additional agility with a stellar jump celebration. As Harry Neale mutters to himself “When’s the parade?”

And the Procurement Officers are going wild!

End of the Second period 3-1 Sens. Shots are 26-18 Sens and Jacques Demers consoles his charges by admitting in the dressing room that they can’t play any worse.

3rd Period

18:25 – Scary moment here as Brad Shaw’s head goes all squeegee on the glass then the ice. Pretty obvious he’s out before he hits the ice. Eventually he’s escorted off via stretcher. No call, allow me to reiterate: Kerry Fraser can go suck off a bunch of rusty exhaust pipes.

14:25 – Vincent Damphousse converts a rebound as 9 sens stand around and ask for an autograph. Mark Luongo doesn’t get one. 3-2 Sens. Hold the Black Label Mabel! We got ourselves a hockey game here.

Shout out the sens DJ Wicked Wendy Daniels for he sharp selection of every classic rock song ever. Steve Miller and ZZ Top dominate the PA as unfortunately the Manchester Dance scene is still a ways away from infiltrating the NHL’s smallest arena and North America’s most uptight city.

9:08 – Witness history my friends. The birth of the Ken H.A.M.mond hat trick. 1 – Play one year for an expansion team. 2 – Score a goal. 3-  head butt a french guy. The franchise’s first ever ejection! Truly the stuff of legend.

7:57 – Guy Carbonneau – Scratched – Hep C… More like Green Carbonneau amiright?

3:35 – Don’t mean to alarm anyone but Mike Peluso is logging crunch time shifts in a one goal game. He just iced the puck to a thunderous ovation and the generic, non-queen version of we will rock you is blaring form the 15 watt loudspeakers. If that doesn’t encapsulate the early years for this team, nothing does. Meanwhile Dick Irvin is lamenting the fact that there hasn’t been an update on Brad Shaw, jeez Dick c’mon It’s called Twitter. Look into it!

2:14 – Sly Turgeon, easily the Luke Perry of the early sens, buries a turn behind St Patrick to make it a 4-2 game. As an aside nothing says multimedia fan experience like bringing a Sony Sport Walkman to a sporting event.

0:24 – Kirk Muller pokes a rebound past Peter Sidorkiewicz who has had a stellar game so far. This is the first ever recorded instance of that “holy shit the sens might blow this one” feeling that would permeate the early years. 4-3 Sens.

0:10 – Doug Smail pots an empty net goal to ice the game and in the process sets the Guiness World’s record for most consecutive times hearing Trooper’s “Raise a little Hell” Seriously, they probably didn’t listen to it that many times during post production prior to its release. 5-3 Sens.

Credit to work ethic here. The young Senators moved their feet and drew several penalties and didn’t let the Montreal offense achieve any kid of rhythm. If only Kerry Fraser adhered to the stringent new rules as the season wore on. I give this game 3 out of 5 Alanises

Talking Points for the Sens Exit Interviews

One of my favorite thing about pro sports is the concept of the exit interview. A facet of my real life job filtering into the wonderland that is sports. In my professional experience an exit interview is the triumphant display of passive aggression and back-handed compliments (Editors note: maybe you were just a shitty employee?)

That being said, there’s no doubt that Paulrus and Bry-Bry will sit down with this rag-tag bunch of pesky misfits to outline goals, aspirations and book-club suggestions for the off season. Let’s take a moment to theorize what those conversations would entail, shall we?

D. Alfredsson – I imagine the coaching staff is probably going that 6 stages of grief type thing with Alfie right now. My guess? They’re doing some hardcore bargaining, offering up vacations and poorly built catamarans to guarantee his return. From Alfredsson’s perspective he should be dropping hints about video montages, framed jerseys and wondering aloud how much money Senatron makes? Just to fuck with em.

J. Spezza – Pretty sure the coaching staff wants him to reign in his susceptibility of being targeted by the other team. (huh wut?) Either that or taking Zack Smith to finishing school (I smell a reality series!). Pretty sure Spezza is contemplating ways to develop his social media profile. Hell bent on unleashing his Turtle-esque bro to rep the light fantastic on twitter (Suk it haterzzz, Big Spez fo’ Hawt trophee in ’13… #19gonwildd)

E. Karlsson – The big wigs want little E to develop an edge, short of a Norwegian Black Metal phase. He should at least start listening to Wesley Willis and announce he no longer respects mild-mannered Swede hockey players that have paved the way. Ulf Samulesson tapes and Big Macs for the summer (the embiggenment protocol). CAAAAAANDLE BOX!

E. Condra – Pursue groundbreaking hand transplant surgery or practice finishing odd man rushes with a 1995 Dodge Neon as his offensive partner. Actually you know what, start simple, put pucks into an open net for a while… let’s say a month?

K. Daugavins – No complaints from a hockey perspective but maybe enhance his profile abit? Fans love him but find it hard to relate to such a unpronouncable name. My suggestion: Change the name to Rod Huggins. I would watch the shit out of a hockey player named “Rooster” Rod Huggins.

N. Foligno – Practice receiving a pass and shooting… or practice dumping the puck into the offensive zone and heading off for a change. If you so much as look at a game of rec league hockey or pick-up shinny you will be fined 50 grand. The Sens coaching staff is determined to nip this out brake of dangle-itis in the bud before it spreads. On a more positive note, continue the exuberant goal celebrations, maybe incorporate an elaborate handshake or the bulk barn advertisement in some way?

J. Cowen – Walk around with a very tiny man, so tiny that passers-by remark at your size in wonderment. Use their reactions as a reminder that you indeed are a large individual capable of feats of strength including but not limited to: removing players from in front of the net and leaving opponents in the corners while the team’s trainers scurry out on the ice to provide assistance. Also please develop a slapshot hard enough to make Dan Girardi think he’s been kicked by a robot horse.

Ben Bishop – Not so much an off season training suggestion but more of a Halloween costume suggestion, decorate your lower half like a small human, then wear a trench coat so it appears you are two little people trying to sneak into a movie for the price of one. (Ed note, Halloween occurs during the actual season, but I’ll let it slide cause that is a cool costume idea)

Jakob Silfverberg – Capitalize on your new-found fame in the Ottawa region by issuing a techno remix of the famous chant that sings of your accomplishments and praises your skills. There are several YouTube examples that will guide you down the path to A-Channel Morning Show glory.

(Ed note, weren’t these supposed to be about hockey?) 

I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare… Alternative playoff predictions.

Without letting this post already dissolve into the start of some Nabokov book where he bitches and moans for the first 30 pages, I’ll cut to the chase. I’m sick. The regular hockey analysis that appears on this site might be delayed a few days. In the interim, there’s this:

Most exciting first round series: Philly vs Pittsburgh

Holy man do I ever have a frozen boner for this matchup! This might end up more wrestlemanina/post heavyweight fight melee (including a dude wearing a fan) than an actual hockey game. The love-loss has been covered elsewhere but this series guarantees to be more than a battle to advance, or claim ownership to Penn’s backyard. When I was a kid my brothers used to make me dress up in football equipment so they could throw me into things and dog pile on me with little remorse. I suggest Danny Briere contemplate some more aggressive equipment modifications.

Acceptable Fan Behavior: Dressing up like the extras from the mad max set

Colonel Kurtz sez: Injuries, and young Breezy’s fear of Bears derail the Flyers. Pens in 6.

Goalie with the Best chance to steal a series or 4.

I wanted to take the Rangers but a bad home ice team has home ice advantage so… yeah, who else? Nashville’s Rinne comes immediately to mind. We know no team arrives more prepared to play than the Red Wings so Rinne will need to be sharp from puck drop, but I believe Nashville has the talent and special teams to weather the early storm. The only downside is trying to get Doc Emerick’s whiny staccato out of your head.

Acceptable fan behavior: Throwing packages of black-market cigarettes on the ice whenever Alex Radulov scores.

Colonel Kurtz sez: I found men like Doc Emerick useful while in command, they could used as currency with local tribal warlords. Preds in 7.

Game most likely to feature an overtime game so long you’ll think it began in a sweat lodge.

Ahh yes, the vision quest game. Steve Yzerman knows, Pat Lafontaine knows. There is no greater path to enlightenement than scoring a devastating goal when you thought you were  praying to a God with a “doctyl” suffix. I see The coyotes and black hawks locked in a defensive struggle that will contain a game so long you’ll swear James St. taps are lined with mescaline. The wounded hawks will use the transmogrification techniques pioneered by assistant coach Carlos Castaneda to soar majestically above the coyotes and their trickster spirit. Alas, paradoxically only for a win in game six to push the series to a deciding game.

Acceptable fan behavior: Showing up.

Colonel Kurtz sez: Time shares in the metro Phoenix area represent great value for your vacation dollar. Yotes in 7.

Series so boring I don’t want to write about them:

Sharks v Blues

Devil v Panthers

Series that proves once and for all no one likes the Canucks

This one’s easy, Kings versus Canucks. Not sure why Canada as a nation is supposed to rally around a group of hockey players maligned for their lack of sportsmanship and wealth of rat-finkery? If this team were in Toronto, TSN would be banned from broadcasting as a result of so many complaints regarding scenes depicting fellatio. I find it bizarre that the Presidents winning team is both under exposed and hated at the same time. How is that possible? Then again Alex Burrows plays for them so all bets are off.

Acceptable fan behavior: If we have to tell you this time, well I dunno.

Colonel Kurtz sez: If they riot again I am definitely finding a dog to make out with in the middle of the street. I want to be an internet meme! Canucks in 5.

Series most likely mentioned on Fox News

Caps versus Bruins, yes much has been made of Benedict Thomas’ refusal to visit the white house, but the last time a traitor visited the white house it was Kareem Abdul Jabbar in those dumb ass goggles and things worked out well for him. Right? My point is Thomas needs to shut up and play. Washington has put a disappointing regular season behind them  and Ovie enjoys playing underdog so Timmy will be confronting tons of rubber. Boston will need to exploit the playoff style the accidentally discovered last year, you know the “if we run over everyone and wait for the refs to swallow the whistles we’ll win” style?

Acceptable fan behavior: Asking masssholes to behave is a tall order.

Colonel Kurtz sez: How come you never see Tim Thomas and former Doobies front man Michael MacDonald in the same place? Bruins in 5.

Series that will promise to be awesome and nothing bad will ever happen

Sens versus Rangers

Acceptable fan behavior: Lose your shit!!!!

Colonel Kurtz says: GO SENS GO!!!!!! Sens in 7!

Local Man Ruins Everything

Those of you keen eyed readers have no doubt come across the latest article from our beloved braying nag of the Ottawa professional hockey club, one Don Brennan. Don took time out of his busy schedule sticking tootsie rolls to Bruce Garrioch’s back to pat hmiself on his own. The results are a shocking glimpse into a man so bent on self-servitude that the chafing alone must be recorded in the annals of medical history (onanism division)  With apologies to Fire Joe Morgan and Kissing Suzy Kolber, I now present a point counter point examination of “Donny B presents Don Brennan unfiltered: a D. Brennan joint”

“I can’t find anyone else who picked the Senators to make the playoffs this season.But I did.You can look it up.”

Really? How would I go about this looking up you speak of? Your employer’s website is chocked full of pictures of girls making regretful decisions and treatsies on the water temparture that supposedly killed Whitney Houston. Fact is no one picked the sens to make the playoffs, claiming you did only serves to sequester yourself in some sort of no man’s land. Smarter than the average fan yet too far away from the team to be considered an insider. Naming your column “cheapseats” has lost all signifigance.

“I wasn’t asked to participate in a pre-season prediction panel,”

Hey guys, should we get Brennan in on this? No, he keeps predicting that all the players will have fun and that pizza at SBP tastes better than his local Pizza Pizza joint.

“Well, it’s no secret that I like to go against the flow,”

I’m convinced this is secret code for admitting that he was the one who upper deckered the half bath at Scanlon’s super bowl party.

“I’ll admit that I didn’t think MacLean would be able to figure out a way to coax a lot of offence from his new team”

Translation: I’m going to explain later in this column that there are several talented offensive weapons on this team and scrappy contributors from the Minor league but they won’t score alot of goals. They will win games by trickery in some sort of “Three Amigo’s-esque scenario”

“I thought the Senators corrected their biggest weakness when they traded for Anderson, a goalie they had long coveted.”

Stay tuned for the Don Brennan spectacular and shocking insider article where he reveals the secret to Brian Elliott’s success in St. Louis…not being coveted in Ottawa.

“If you had followed the man closely for 15 seasons as I have, you knew he was going to bounce back from the back surgery — even if he says he didn’t. And knowing of his leadership qualities, you also believed that his presence and work ethic would raise the play of those around him. I was pretty sure of this.”

Translation: “If you knew this guy as closely and as intimately as this guy I have absolutely no doubt, without hyperbole that you’d be pretty sure too.”

“The guy is a great player. He’s also very proud. After two injury-shortened 57-point seasons, he was bound to bounce back and bounce back strong. At least that’s what I thought.”

Woah hold on, Donny B has hit his stride here, there’s so much passion in his affirmations. Words like maybe, potentially and possibly have no room here on the edge of the danger zone. Only hearty phrases like “At leat that’s what I thought” can survive the punishing scrutiny of the Sunshing Girl selection committee. The man does’t make statements as much as they accidentally stain out while he’s thinking about something else.

I told him I thought 70 was within his reach. He said “that’s a lot of points.”

Then I laughed at him for failing to say it with the conviction power of a thousand Brennan suns, put him in a headlock and gave him a wet william

“But I knew his luck would change, and if it did he would prove once and for all that the Senators won the trade when they acquired him for Dany Heatley.”

Please donner don’t hurt em, you’re just piling on now B. All these years following the deal, you knew! You rascal, you were just playing possum. If only you had an arena in which you could have published this opinion, the public outcry would have definitely subsided thanks to your calm, steady influence.

“a Calder Cup championship would make better players of guys like Zack Smith, Colin Greening, Jared Cowen, Kaspars Daugavins and Erik Condra. I knew there would be a positive carryover effect. I was right.”

Donuel, baby please before January you thought Kaspars Daugavins was ethiopan food you eat without utensils. You were there to try new things, to get that spark back. Maybe Marsha would look at you like she used to…

The Senators GM and his staff had taken plenty of heat for the team’s fall

YES FROM YOU, YOU CAUSTIC SIMP

Ugh, I need a shower…

Questionable Research, Ham Radios, Conspiracy Theories and Torso Chutes! It’s the Wtyky Random Prediction Panel!

Apropos of nothing

Now that our beloved pack of roustabouts, monkeyshiners, gadflies, frozen gypsies and upstarts have unbelievably inserted themselves into the Eastern Conference playoff discussion I think its high time we took a look at some plausible (and not so plausible) scenarios and evaluate their potential for dream-coming-tru-ness. Also my job of screwing the heads on He-Man figures on this assembly line has expectedly gone slack following the xmas rush. To wit:

1. Colin Greening wins rookie of the year!

-Why it won’t happen: Well for starters Richard Greenco sits 8th amongst rookie scorers with a tepid looking minus -5. While being one of the better two way players on the list, he currently trails wunderkinder like Henrique and Craig Smith while playing on a line with premiere playmakers.

-Why it will happen: Injuries (Oooh right in the Nuge!) and a hot streak are just about the only things that can bolster Colin’s candidacy, considering Ottawa is already a high scoring team it’s unlikely to think he can summon even more impressive feats of twine bulgery (Sports writing, ha!)

Probability: 5% Not sure who started the Greening for Calder talk at the start of the year but that shouldn’t dampen Sens fan’s enthusiasm for the big winger’s development.

2. Coach Paul MacLean wins the Jack Adams

-Why it won’t happen: Considering the league is lousy with stories of team turnarounds this year the stache has some stiff competition. You have to think he needs a playoff spot to guarantee even a nomination. Stories out of St.Louis, Florida and Minnesota are just as heart warming and could possibly usurp the plucky mustachioed one.

-Why it will happen: Pretty much everyone with a ham radio and an eye for NHL prognostication predicted this team would finish near the basement of the eastern conference and maybe even the league. His deft handling of the Filatov situation (honest assessment and zero kowtowing to skill) and his ability to maintain the focus of essentially a bunch of young third liners has been impressive.

Probability: I’m calling it now! 66.6 percent if he gets these hardscrabble cockney newsboys into the “get hammered by Boston” sweepstakes

3. Alfredsson wins the Lady Byng

Why it will happen: So this would probably be more of a life time achievement award type deal. Alfie’s having a stellar season and has displayed outstanding form at an advanced age, this alone should merit consideration for one of those new “leadership” awards (I think it’s the Messier award?) But Alfie’s only taken 5 minor penalties this year which is within the realm of feasibility considering two time consecutive winner Marty St. Louis currently has one fewer. Toss in the fact that he’s made his dignified way through a couple of career milestones recently and this selection makes sense from a league showcase perspective. (but we kinda have the all-star game for that too)

Why it won’t happen: This award is weird, there are tons of guys who stay out of the box and never get consideration because it’s about performance too. Plus with the fact that the supplemental discipline era of the league is upon us, who’s to say the definition of gentlemanly play won’t also undergo a radical change? This one is hard to tell.

Probability: I think he could get nominated, then again Milan Michalek is in the thick of the scoring race and has taken one fewer penalty, I dunno. I’ll give Alfie 15%. Dude’s a lock for the “Cheez-its Mortgage Insurance cuuuuuuteest kids in hockey” award tho.

4. Karlsson wins the Norris

Why it will happen: Has anyone else noticed the NHL seems to be undergoing some sort of hormonal imbalance? I’m not a physiologist but plate tectonics theory is pointing at some major upheaval going on. “Adjusts glasses” Dudes are straight wildin’ out right now! The concept of defensive hockey is confined to a gimmicky zone trap and refs are calling stuff so tight I’d argue a powerplay puck mover on the back end is more valuable than a shutdown guy. Take defencemen ranked by plus minus, half of the top 12 are from Boston. Coincidence that Boston scores the most while allowing the fewest? Are all of those guys shutdown guys? None of those dudes is in the top 15 for ice time per game? I think it’s time to readjust the Shutdown concept. There’s an award for goalie tandem and goalies individually right? What about an award for defensive tandem? I guess pairings change so frequently, but I bet there’s an advanced metric for that. Okay, maybe I got off topic there, good thing this is a blog and not a thesis.

Why it won’t happen: Honestly he has a better shot at the heart trophy. Why? See above. Apparently our special little guy is not a shut down type and I agree, especially since the sens aren’t exactly a shutdown type team. While it puts butts in the seats, the fact that Ottawa leads the league in 3rd period comebacks will not help one’s Norris candidacy. My argument is, aside from Chara and maybe 2 or 3 other guys, who else would you rather have on your team?

Probability: I’ll give him a 20% chance just to get nominated, he doesn’t fit the mold of the blueliner coveted by Brian Burke and his cabal of broken nosed, old timey NHL pranksters. HEEEEEEEEEE’S A PRETTTTTTY BOYYYYYYYYYYY.

5. Ottawa Makes the Playoffs

Why it will happen: The question on everybody’s sultry, honeysuckle lips (oh sorry got my Streetcar Named Desire fan fiction mixed up in this one) Basically what derailed Ottawa last year was a lack of consistent messaging and communication from behind the bench and injuries. So far they’ve managed to avoid both, they’ve increased their depth and added some secondary scoring. It’s also worth noting a couple of the East’s premiere teams have regressed. I think there’s room for the best team in Canada (Important, non-rioting division)

Why It won’t happen:

Take the exact opposite of everything I’ve written in the last paragraph and reverse it. Bizarro prognostication!

Probability: Let’s try 55%, they’ve benefitted from the schedule makers and may watch as teams catch up.

And now a word from James while I run see to a clog in the torso chute:

1. I find that judging rookie seasons as a fan and not an analyst pretty tough unless 1. The rookie is on the team you follow 2. Plays for a rival of your favorite team and you see them play a lot (you can usually tell how good a season they are having by how much you hate them) or 3. If they are having an undeniably amazing campaign and have as such become a much talked about media sensation (ie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or last year’s winner Jeff Skinner). Outside of this, can anyone tell me about how the rookies are doing on the Dallas Stars? Are we just assuming any rookies on the Blue Jackets are doing horribly? Or that the rookies on the Red Wings are developing perfectly? Basically what im saying is I’m lazy and not made of following all the teams. I’m also trying to say that despite being a top line player most of the season and having a strong start, I don’t really think anyone knows who Colin Greening is. I base this largely on things like my not knowing if Nazim Kadri or Louis Leblanc are currently in the NHL or AHL and the Senators play Montreal and Toronto every 45 minutes (they are playing a triple header right now).
I have been watching a lot of Edmonton games this season because I can stay up as late as I feel like and I have to say, recent injury included, there is no way Greening gets the award over Nuggie-Hopscotch. He’s their like their Erik Karlsson. Undeniable and regularly sonning seasoned NHLers all while being the size of Milhouse. RNH is a lock as far as I’m concerned. If there is one Senator I think should be in the Calder discussion as of this date, its unequivocally Jared Cowen. I find it absolutely amazing that with only 10 AHL games under his belt he has in his rookie year bumped Chris Phillips down the pecking order at one of the most difficult positions in hockey.

2. Now this I would absolutely LOVE to see. As I am typing this I am getting visions of John Tortarella picking up this award for basically getting a bunch of superstars to play well for once. Paul MacLean is the most underrated Ottawa Senator. I would imagine any Sens fan no matter what their understanding of coaching would affirm that the already beloved Paulrus pretty much completely changed the culture of the team overnight. I don’t know if I’ve heard one disparaging remark or read a negative comment about him yet. That, my friends, is amazing. His work, though obviously a little hard to notice at times as games are so focused on players, is incredibly impressive if you consider a number of areas. He has got the team motivated game in and game out beyond anything we’ve seen in the past few years (aside from that 10 game winning streak a couple seasons back I suppose). The team has a clear identity now, as hard as that identity is on one’s central nervous system. You gotta love the pesky, never quit game of the Sens. As much as I rag on him I believe Kovalev when he said he didn’t understand the system under Clouston. I also believe he wasn’t listening too but I digress. Funny how all of a sudden the team can score and Phillips, Gonchar and Kuba are fine defencemen again. Curious. Probably my favourite thing about MacLean is how he has the guts to be his own coach and do things like put Smith out there on the power play if he’s hot, try Konopka on a key draw at the end of the game, put Rundblad or Butler in a shootout, or put Anderson back in net if even if he’s played a few bad games. To me these are the kind of moves that show the players you believe in them and as such will make them run through a brick wall for you. I am not surprised at all when the chips are down after the second intermission the team comes out swinging. How I’d love to see this guy coach in the playoffs. I would be happy just to see him nominated as an acknowledgment of the job he’s been doing. You guys, I think I want to have his baby.

3. Is it just me or is Matt Cooke actually kind of the guy to beat for this award this year? Dude has 12 penalty minutes this season. Yeah, Mr. Knee on Knee. Also according this tweet I just got from Dear Leader day is also now night and freedom = slavery…so there’s that. I’m not entirely sure that the Byng is just automatically given to an awesome player with the least penalty minutes but after a quick glance at perennial favourites Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis, Alfredsson definitely in the neighbourhood. It would be fantastic to see Alfie win another individual trophy to keep his Calder company. It would be another feather in his cap when Hall of Fame talk is …getting talked.

4. People are starting to talk about this. When the season is at the halfway point and you are a defenseman producing at a near point per game clip, that talk is not unwarranted. Of course, the trouble is, and could be for a long time, is that Karlsson has a reputation as a “defensive liability.” I gotta say, I have watched almost every Sens game this year and I have to say, yes, Karlsson is an offensive defenseman who uses his speed to join (or even lead) the rush and makes risky pinches. This is his job. He used to get exposed for his inexperience. Yup. K. I dont really feel like thats so much the case anymore. You dont get 37 points in 41 games without taking some risks and giving up some turnovers but overall for a guy with that much of an offensive focus and who is also undersized, I think EK has been very respectable defensively. Remember that game a few months back when he absolutely dominated Alex Ovechkin? He could not do that in previous seasons. Now I cant help but mention his absolutely brutal -30 rating last season. What worries me is that he may never shake that minus -30 rep or at least might not for a long time. Look at Jason Spezza, for the last two seasons he has been a changed man in his play to the point of earning himself some time on the PK UNDER CLOUSTON. Despite his clear dedication to improving his overall game while maintaining his point a game pace, I think a lot of people outside of Ottawa (and even within Ottawa) have made up their minds that Spezza is the dipsy doodle dandy and that can sink you when it comes to awards. I can see a Niklas Lidstrom Award I mean Norris Trophy in Karlsson’s future. Give it a couple years for sure.

5. Its gunna be tight in the East all season. Its gunna be tight. Its gunna be goddamn goddamn goddamn tight!

Conrad, what say you?

1. I agree with James, but especially the point about Cowen. The weird x factor when judging rookies is the flashy-v-reliable aspect. RNH scores at will, and Edmonton still stinks and will finish bottom five this year. It’s unfair to hang that on him, but at the same time, if the Sens make the playoffs this year it will have something, at least some little thing, to do with Cowen occasionally playing 30 minutes a night and not making enormous, obvious mistakes. He won’t win it because he’ll have something like 12 points at the end of the year, but I think there’s something to the steady, reliable, half-a-game player. Although, having said all of that, even we judged rookies using that metric, I guess Adam Larsson would win. He’s been a beast in New Jersey.

2. Stache will be in the top five of Adams voting if the Senators don’t come back to earth. (Aside: Ottawa plays Philly, Pitts, New York, Boston, LA, San Jose, Dallas and Phoenix in January. Eeeeeeeeeeesh.) But he’s got some intense competition. Hitchcock has really turned St. Louis around (though I feel you James: he’s just getting a team that is supposed to be competing to compete), Sutter is doing the same in LA. Yeo in Minnie is a frontrunner if they hang on. How about Dineen in Florida? Dude is 3rd overall with some old chess pieces he found in a dumpster.

3. I have no idea how this thing is awarded. Sure, give it to Alfie.

4. This be a meaty question. The argument for is obvious: leads all defencemen in points by a wide margin. The argument against is the same that kept the Norris from Mike Green – that he’s supposedly an ‘offensive specialist’ – except that Karlsson has about an even +/- on a team with a terrible goal differential and awful goaltending, and he plays on the PK, neither of which was true of Green. Karlsson is absolutely deserving of the award this year, though I still think it goes to Shea Weber. A lot of people felt he was robbed last year, so look for them to make up for their sentimental Lidstrom pick with a sentimental Weber pick this year. (Not that he’s isn’t also an astounding defenceman.) Karlsson is young and has a lot of years to win the Norris, or so the thinking will go.

5. Ask me after January. This next month is make-or-break. Sens have been gangbusters….at home against shitty teams. On the road against the best of the East? That’s gonna be tough. If they go .500 over the next several games, then I’ll say they make it. (One of those websites who crunch stats that I don’t understand said they’re 50% right now, and another which doesn’t take goal differential, a tie breaker, into account put it at 60%.) They have a lot of games in hand against the teams beneath them, and suck on the tie-breaker. They’re currently on pace for 94 points. Which is juuuuuuust at the cut-off. This year is gonna take years offa my life.

A Slightly More Optimistic Reaction to the Turris Deal

Right, so every hockey talking head is currently flapping their gums about how Bryan Murray went all Bryan Murray and totally mortgaged the sens promising future/destroyed an orphanage/cancelled Star Trek TNG. I’m here (well, here, not here) to tell everyone to chill out. Armchair GM-mmetry is a staple of hockey fandom and folks have a right to do a bit of head scratching, (okay so my melon is admittedly a bit raw) But let’s see if we can spin this a little more to the positive. Considering how many poop jokes I make I can’t honestly consider myself an actual journalist so any semblance of hockey analysis should be taken with a shot of Wisers (Tryin to get my hand’s on J. York’s hooch money there)

1. David Rundblad is awesome or wait, was awesome, or wait he’s going to be awesome? Totally confused here, it was obvious David was having problems with the lack of time and space big strong NHL forwards are encouraged to impose on young blueliners. This led to an abundance of risky curl-and-drag moves on the opponents blueline. Is this problem insurmountable? Heck no, he’s going to be a good player, that’s not up for debate. What was questionable was how this team was going to impose a defensive system with MacLean being forced to constantly avoid playing Karlsson and Rundblad at the same time. It appeared that having an abundance of risk takers on the back-end was not in Murray’s 2012-2015 strat plan. To me, this boils down to one of those early season fantasy moves, where you either deal from a position of strength or sell high on a guy.

2. The bust as myth. Quick think of any underperforming high draft pick and don’t use the word “bust”. It’s a death sentence in hockey, one that’s all too frequently tossed around. Doesn’t matter what kind of team/system/organization they were drafted to, the ice time or line mates they were provided. Don’t live up to the hype and fail to prove the talking heads right for fawning over you prior to the draft and the onus falls squarely on your shoulders. I can understand how Sens fans might be a bit sensitive thanks to our current relationship with one Nikita Filatov,  but those of you screaming that Filatov never got decent ice time or line mates (yes I just hit Jesse Winchester with a rolled up newspaper) can’t possibly be grading this deal a loss so soon? Filatov and Turris are mutually exclusive.

3. Character issues,  Kyle Turris is a terrible human being. I know right? How dare a young guy over value his production and make an ill-advised career move? What youngster hasn’t made questionable career moves? (not just hockey but in all lines of work) He found his ice time limited and was dangerously close to being labelled a draft bust. So he decided to look out for number one. He used his previous production as leverage. (it’s the only leverage a player will ever get) My point is go ask your boss if you can have more money. Back so soon? What they didn’t think you deserved it? Hmmm, maybe they were wrong about you? Maybe you’re not a team player? Hey what’s that they’re putting in your personnel file? Ruh-roh. C’mon gang, Murray isn’t building a Midget AAA team here, he needs a second line centre with mitts and skill, maybe he won’t end up doing an oil changers commercial or be labelled a room guy (I’m more of a bar guy, if you’re wondering) Character is overrated, most of the talented NHL players are either the product of well orchestrated PR campaigns or tremendous assholes. If it means more points, then bring on the assholes! (do not enter that last line into IMDB!)

4. Future considerations. Think about a few unknowns going into this deal. Particularly with realignment. Murray needs to construct a team capable of winning a playoff series against the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs (gah!) in the not too distant future. Maybe Murray is envisioning a team with top-end talent up front and size on the back end. (not saying Rundblad was tiny but he didn’t exactly play big) Given the big cheese’s propensity to deal this might only be the start. I think the puck moving defenceman experiment might end at Karlsson and Gonchar. Lastly there was quite an incendiary article from professional hockey troll Ryan Lambert on Puck Daddy basically calling the coyotes GM the crown prince of hockey management. My retort is that Phoenix, just like every team that stockpiles young talent, will one day be forced to back up the brinks truck to keep guys. This includes us. Maybe Murray thought he can reason with Turris during negotiating his new deal and thus made this move to avoid the potential disaster of having to decided between Rundblad, Karlsson and Cowan. (and you guys thought Redden v Chara was gut wrenching) If we have to debate between paying our special little guy and our special huge guy James will never get down from the bell tower.

Bottom line is it’s another high risk, potentially high reward type deal. Ottawa has young blueliners in the system and no one close to Turris’ potential in the middle. You want to build a champion, you don’t do it with the Bobby Butler-Eric Condra-Peter Regin-Stephane DaCosta poo poo platter. You swing for the fences, I can live with that.

NOW COME AT ME TROLLS!!!!

09.14.2011 – On the plus side, I knocked down the SunSphere

WordPress is being a turd and won’t let me post an image that makes the title of this post a little more coherent. Bonus points to anyone able to pick the additional line that ties it all together.

Look, I’m going to level with you guys here and you might not want to hear it…

I’m not that psyched for the return of the Winnipeg Jets… Before you all write impassioned letters to Ron and Don calling for my death by catapult let’s look at a few things and see if we can shed light on why a red-blooded Canadian would stare down the barrel of frozen jingoism and yawn. With apologies to David Letterman, the top ten reasons I’m not excited for the return of the Winnipeg Jets.

10. They’ll always be the Atlanta Thrashers

Oh sure, they’re the Jets forever more but sports fans with short memories are doomed to be seen as superficial and will never win an argument in a bar again. Secretly, the Winnipeg Jets will be the touchstone, the popsicle stick skyscraper of Gary Bettman’s NHL. While it’s true they represent the happy ending , they also represent the “anything for a TV market” dark ages of the league.

9. The odd number of Canadian teams

How does this help they symmetry of the league? How is the league to going to schedule the hockey day match-ups? (You know it’s a holiday invented by the hockey companies to sell hockey right?) Maybe we’ll have to rescind Vancouver’s hockey day match-up as punishment for those ugly riots after the Canucks had the temerity to get their asses kicked in a home game? Anyways, it’ll be an interesting game of musical chairs.

8. Another group of entitled obnoxious hockey fans

I’m making this assessment across all Canadian hockey fans, from the myopic optimism of leaf fans to the spoiled entitlement of Habs fans and even the misty eyed glory days-corpse dragging Edmontonians. We all have our warts. While the league needs fervent, passionate support of it’s franchises I’d like to you to ponder just how long till the bloom is off the rose and we’re faced with another fan-base we love to hate.

7. The corporate synergy with Canada’s air force makes me uncomfortable.

I’m a supporter of Canadian armed forces, that’s not up for debate. What I do find a bit confusing is the tie-in with the Canadian air force. I understand the relation the city and the jets have but wasn’t the original name a nod to the aerospace industry and a wink to the great Bobby Hull’s nickname? (Research, I haz it) Why was the Summit series of the 70’s so popular? Because it was us versus the red army. The home grown hockey talents versus the assembly line produced instruments of a  communist military complex. But when we do it, it’s cool?  Aligning a hockey team with a instrument of any organized force seems like unnecessary pandering. This is how you choose to sell the game  in Canada’s bredbasket?

6. Once I told a girl I loved her and she moved to Winnipeg instead.

Totally pathetic and completely true.

5. That logo is awful

Why is that jet bombing the curling rink? Seems anathema to almost everything prairie dwellers stand for. Unless it’s meant to represent the fly-by that opens the brier every year.I dunno, I’m only a casual follower of curling as mandated by my birth certificate.

4. The lack of marketable stars

I can’t wait to tune in to see what Evander Kane is going to do next. Wait,  how many Winnipeg games is  TSN broadcasting this year? Ugh. At least Nik Antorpov is freakishly tall, that’s good for a gander right?

3. Lip service and the spotlight

I still don’t believe any of their players would rather play there, sure they’ll love playing in front a full barn. But the next time their dump in rings over the glass and they’re in the box they might not like the boys in the first row  from Dauphin voicing their opinion. A quick check of the sports desk indicates shitty teams make alot of mistakes. Welcome to the spotlight, mediocre hockey team.

2. Another sycophantic press corps

Gotta say I don’t have high hopes for the team of scribes assigned to cover this squad.

I’m sure there’ll be the dissenting article now and again, but  there’s only so many ways you can gloss Chris Mason’s 34 save effort in a 5-2 loss. (Trust me we have experience of that in Ottawa) The saving grace of the Maple Leafs and Canadiens is that the ravenous hoard of  journo’s don’t suffer fools lightly. What’s the grace period comeback era Elvis Byfuglien gets before someone notices hockey players generally aren’t 300 lbs.

1. Typing Dustin Byfuglien’s name is hard.

Just like Letterman, number one always sucks.