I’ve Got Something To Say: It’s Been Emotional.

andy

I feel compelled to write something about what happened last night because I hardly know how to talk about it. It’s rare that such truly important circumstances factor into something as inconsequential as sport. Most of what we experience as a collective of fans is emotional. Last night’s game really highlighted that. All we can do is sit there, watch and hope. I decided to tune in for the late game last night, in an odd way to “be there” for Craig Anderson. It’s of course a bit of a silly sentiment as I was just passively watching a hockey game on a screen over 3000 kilometers away. But as a fan of his I, for lack of a better way of explaining it, wanted to see if he was okay. Of course we all know, deep down, he’s not okay. We can only hope for a couple of hours, within the focus that his job requires of him, Craig Anderson found some respite from the difficulty of the situation that he, his wife Nicholle and their children are experiencing.

Part of what had me anxiously bouncing my legs and wincing at every Edmonton shot like it was a game 7 of a playoff series was this: Sports is not a movie. The drama is not scripted. As Sens fans we unfortunately know this all too well. So many times we’ve wanted things to come together for those who are hurting. For the success of our team to in some small way honour the legacy of those our community has lost. Those like Pat Redden, Roger Neilson, Daron Richardson and Mark Reeds. Since he revealed the severity of his illness, I assume we’ve all at some point imagined the glory of Bryan Murray raising a well deserved Cup over his head. These are only small honors but they carry big meaning for our community. A complete stranger donated a piece of his body to the team’s owner Eugene Melnyk and saved his life. He withheld his identity but left only the message that Melnyk help bring home a championship with his new lease on life. As much as I try to brush it off at times I must admit, this stuff is in its own way important. If a Senators win puts some wind in kids like Jonathan Pitre’s sails, that is important. If what her husband did under immense pressure put a smile on Nicholle Anderson’s face during the hardest time of her life, that is important. That importance is why you had Edmonton fans on their feet applauding the goaltender whom they just spent time and money watching shut their home team out.

Again, this is a sport, a game. We as fans play the role of customer much of the time. We all in our own way believe the customer is always right and feel it our duty to criticize when we are dissatisfied. I am definitely no stranger the world of calculating salaries, referring to players as “assets” or “pieces” arguing who should not play or be demoted to the minor leagues or bought out of their contract completely. The game we watch together is so often referred to as a product and when facing the most challenging times in their careers, the players who play, echo the reality that, “It’s a business.”

What made last night so special is that the business stuff all went away for a few fleeting moments. What we saw was a truly human display. In a game that is more reliant than ever on intricate strategy, mathematic analysis, speed and skill I believe we did witness the power of the often admonished element of will. Craig Anderson and his teammates “wanted it more” in a way that I don’t think you can get away with every night. The Senators won’t pull out every game on that extra incentive to win and Andy will not pitch a shutout every night to seek temporary relief from the hard time he’s going through. But last night they did and they did it as a team. If you follow the Sens closely you saw, especially as the game wore on, that battles for lose pucks were fought more tenaciously than usual, shots were blocked with no hesitation, sticks deflected incoming pucks away from danger with noticeable precision, the puck was repeatedly carried out of the defensive zone with fierce speed. Hell, this team that often struggles defsensively managed to contain the best offensive team in the league featuring a kid who looks like a first ballot hall of famer at age 19 for a full 60 minutes. Chris Kelly looked 10 years younger killing penalties, Karlsson looked 20 pounds heavier and 2 inches taller muscling larger opponents off pucks, Borowiecki looked nothing like the guy we regularly put on the seat of the proverbial dunk tank week after week and Andy, well, he was perfect. Maybe it’s just me and they were the same guys they always are and played a great road game as the did in Vancouver last week. Looking at the clip of the players hugging Anderson at the end of the game with Chris Neil fighting back tears in the background tells me otherwise.

The truth is many people get out of bed and go to work while facing similar challenges at home every single day. There’s no spectacle for them. No fanfare. But Craig Anderson has a pressure filled job that is broadcast on national television. An off day at the office, a few false moves can mean failure for he and all of his coworkers. Last night under the bright lights of the arena there was nowhere for him to hide. To see a fellow human being who is dealing with such a tough time literally win, literally be cheered for his efforts for one night was truly rare, truly special.

Thank you to Nicholle for her bravery and unfathomable generosity in urging Craig to rejoin his team. We do not deserve it. We are with you and we wish you all the best.

https://www.nhl.com/community/hockey-fights-cancer/donate

James Day Preview: Ottawa Vs. The Ned Flanders of Hockey

Puempel2

“…hey y’all”

Yo. There must be a lot of new Sens fans out there.

Hold on a sec, everyone. Take a knee there, new fish. I got something I gotta explain to you:

The first two home games of the season coming against the leafs and habs is Gary HUSSEIN Bettman trying to break our collective spirit. With the unprecedented amount of old dudes who like these old man teams, general dumbasses and young guys with suuuper aggressive dad issues out there, it is basically impossible to have a respectable showing at these games (HAVE U HEARD?). Further, given how distant and withholding so many people’s fathers apparently are, these fans really come out to try to impress them with intensity. Spoiler 2 them: It will never work. Your dad hates you and your new, more realistic real doll. Your dad AND the doll wish you were never born but, anyway, congratulations for hating the city you live in with ferocity.
Anyway, fish, the point I’m trying to get through to you is this: The more of these games are played, the more you will come to understand that winning despite a FOUR goal performance from a player that has received hype for the last four months leading up to this game and followed by a game where Ottawa blew a two goal lead only to come back in exciting fashion are NOT regular things. Try. To. Enjoy. Them. For. A. Minute. Trust me, it’s a long season and there will be successful embarrassments from crazy individual efforts of unlikable players on shit teams and blown leads followed by shootout losses to come.
Where I’m at: Those wins are enough for me to accept a few L’s in a row tbh. If you don’t think the Sens are good enough to compete or whatever I suggest you cherish the little victories along the way then. I mean, do your thing but I will live longer than you. Be safe, beloved.

On to the game!

The Detroit Red Wings: Whose Mans Are These?
Yo when did the Red Wings turn into the New York Knicks assembling the wild 2008 All Star team?

Did this team just quietly fall in the organizational power rankings from “Smartest team in the NHL” to “This year’s team with those ‘Thomas Vanek gooooooot thiiiiiis thoooo’” cokedreams? Honestly, the guy couldn’t hang with the Minnesota Wild.
Serious Q: Is Vanek the first player to ever be bought out by the Wild? This is the team that drafted Matt Kassian in the second round. Also, not for nothing, Minnesota replaced Vanek with the swaggarlessness gawd, Eric Staal. Haven’t the Twin Cities suffered enough with the passing of Prince?

Let’s see who else is on Detroit’s 2008 All Star squad. Ah, Mike Green (35 pts last year) is their answer to Erik Karlsson…so…wow. Let’s just move forward.

There are some bright spots for the perennially haven’t done shit in the playoffs since Lidstrom retired dangerous Wings.

Dylan Larkin for one. He had a very successful season for a rookie. No shade, but if Ottawa was pinning its future to a kid for having a 45 point rookie season people would be making fun of us. But look I’m classier than that and I will make fun of them for more legit reasons: STEVE OTT IS ON THIS TEAM.

K, there’s also star goaltender, former Ottawa 67 (gang gang) Petr (sic) Mrazek in net (0-2). He’s looking to bounce back from that wild early season 4.06 GAA. I’m sure Hoffman, Stone, Ryan, Brassard, Turris and Karlsson will go easy on him. Especially Hoffman who I’m sure is feeling super chill about not having a goal yet.

Alright we’ve had lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fun making fun Flanders. What, we don’t have no flies on us? Well, with a 2-0 record not yet really. Just kidding. Listen, this is the year I officially lose it on this issue:

The ‘Be Safe Tho’ Heard ‘Round the World
Borowiecki in, Chabot (still) out. I meaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan…LOOK, it’s only been two games (2-0-0) and Boucher has been pretty up front about Chabot getting his first action against either Detroit or Phoenix but it’s more stuff like this that frightens me:

K, is that the real competition?  Why does it have to be Chabot Vs. Guy who is way better than Borowiecki again? Seriously, we’ve got this apparent X’s and O’s detail based, strategic mastermind in Boucher, a former head coach with a Cup and 15 seasons experience in Crawford and some big timey eye in the sky video coach now. I’m hoping at some point they at least N O T I C E that Borowiecki is a hot mess. I’m sure deciding when a first round pick’s first game comes is a tricky decision (right Ozton Mayhews?) and perhaps Boucher feels his game would be best suited against the hung and youngry™ Coytoes on Tuesday. I  just thought I would be angry about that for a minute…let’s see anything else? Oh, Matt Puempel is in and Phil Varone is out. I have very little to say about this. I’m not saying I’m ready to throw in the towel on Puempel but it’s gonna be tough for a player like him on the 4th line. I suppose Kelly makes for a bit more of a chance for Pumps to do something on the bottom line than last year but I don’t expect much. Life is about lowered sexpectations for late first round picks.

And the Rest:
The Sens top six has been doing top sixie thangz in the first two games of this yung c-son but in the last game we got a treat: A beautiful trying goal from the third line. Great to see new guy Tom Pyatt bury one after a nice give and go between perfect hockey player JG Pageau and Ryan Dzingel to enter the zone. I’ve liked Pyatt so far. Something tells me a “Guy Boucher player” is of a more useful ilk than a “Dave Cameron player” or “infinity other coaches we’ve had the past near-decade type player.”

Andrew “The Handmurderer” Hammond gets the start in net. The OTHER Andy™ had a bit of an up and down season last year (read: bad) but the worst of it came after coming back from a concussion he suffered off the rip. Hopefully his dome is clear and he can go back to his winning like 20 games in a row self. R E A S O N A B L E.

BOLD Predictions:

  • Justin Abdelkader will score because that name is REALLY annoying and he always finds a way for me to hear it. You know, I actually kind of respect that brand of hater shit.
  • Sens power play starts clicking. Have you seen that thing? It’s only a matter of time. Speaking of which, Hoffman def gets one tonight.

Enjoy the game, drink your Steelback Beer responsibly.

James Day Preview: Sens-leafs. Catch the Taste or Whatever

bear-with

See me at the spot with that vanity tag featuring the 2016-17 motto.

 

It’s time. I’m pulling up to the 2016-17 Ottawa Senators season. Hair lookin DEEC(ish), smellin’ more or less right, hands moisturized and packing an extremely healthy relationship with the sport of hockey. Look, as an adult person who’s definitely not a virgin (check out sex tape and past), I absolutely didn’t change my computer password today because it’s always the name of a Sens player and I have never believed in the past that my password choice may have played a part in bringing the player bad luck. As such, NO I didn’t feel compelled to switch it from a roster player to a retired player for cosmic alignment purposes and things of that nature. I just did regular normal things. I should also mention that I did not decide to watch the game from my mobile command centre beneath the Earth’s crust instead of a bar or the CTC because when Ottawa plays Toronto I get too mean if the Sens are winning and I drink too heavily and get too aggressive if Toronto is winning. Just a day filled with a bunch of healthy things about a thing I believe I enjoy over here. Good. Now that we’ve clarified that:

 

Hi.

 

So, listen, maybe I spend far too much on the ol’ Sensphere (RIP the word ‘maybe’) but things seem almost stunningly grim out there going into this season. It’s pretty much been a rough ride since beating Montreal in the playoffs a few years back. The team never seemed to round that corner that many of us thought they’d reached. In the piss stream media, I read over and over that the Sens have done nothing to improve. I’ve seen many predictions for bottom 5 finishes. That last year’s poor result is this year’s poor result. Thanks, why even watch! While there is still a Clarke MacArthur shaped hole in our hearts, I have to say the Sens are still not world beaters but are better than last year’s and will be better. I’ma break this hater shit down one time:

– Kyle Turris bent his leg at an angle not in accordance with God’s Plan and kept playing for some reason and went from being on pace for a career best year to finishing with a career low in points. He was basically the Montreal canadiens of players last year.
CONTROVERSIAL TAKE: I believe, a healthy Kyle Turris is better than a very much injured Kyle Turris. I’m sorry I just do. A top line centre that improves on better than career worst numbers and doesn’t make you feel sympathy pangs when you watch him skate? This MAY have an effect.

– Like it or not I need to write this message in the sky in gossamer teardrops: Dion Phaneuf IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSS a better option than Jared Cowen [currently fighting contract buy out] and Patrick Wiercioch (52 GP: 0G, 5A). Also speaking of God’s Plan, in Phaneuf, the team also finally has an option better than Mark Borowiecki to play with Karlsson if when Marc Methot goes down with an injury. Do not @ me.

– I do drink the Kool Aid that Derick Brassard will be a more consistent player than Mika Zibanejad. After a summer of projecting the future and blah blah blah I’m talking now. I think we’re going to love this guy.  If you are really in your feelings about losing Ziba still, I understand but hopefully you can eventually find solace in that Brassard will easily be as good as Zibanejad and might be a better fit for the line up (read: A centre who’s good at making plays).

– Dave Cameron is gone. You know, former British Prime Minister who played Mark Borowiecki as a forward? Yeah. More than once. More than once. More than once. More. Than. Once. He has been replaced by Guy Boucher. A coach with NHL experience who claims that he plans to play to the players’ respective strengths. I think if he just follows through on some of what he’s said in the off season, that will be an improvement over the shit like: Borowecki as a winger over ANY other forward, Boro-Karlsson instead of Anyone Else-Karlsson, Benching Hoffman, Hoffman NOT playing regularly on the power play, Hoffman on the 4th line, Hoffman on the bench, line juggling cokedreams, etc. Just don’t do those things and that’s an improvement. I should mention the biggest potential boost of all…

Hey, Come Here and Check this out:

I don’t know if Mike Babcock’s stratagem involves his dumb, shitty team never taking a penalty at any point during the game but should that not work out I would advise everyone to be safe. In a post-Dave Cameron paradigm, the thing I am most looking forward to seeing is the power play unit that that Guy Boucher has assembled:

Ryan – Brassard – Stone

Hoffman – Karlsson

See…it’s not that haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard.

Yo, that crew is so obvious and good that if there even is a second unit I don’t care if it’s this:

Neil – Miniature Schnauzer – Konopka

Borowiecki – Frozen Dinner

3 forwards who can both score and set up goals and the team’s two best shooters up top? Just keep them out there the full two minutes. Honestly, all I  ask as a fan is if that formation doesn’t score the first WEEK of the season just keep them To-Geth-Er. They eventually will score a lot, I promise. If that power play can’t do better than 26th in the league well…I will continue to not know anything about the sport of iced hockey.

 

Oh Right the Fucking Game:

The rebuilding leafs are looking a lot like another exciting, up and coming franchise to the West, the Edmonton Oilers. Some exciting young forwards, a group slightly melted troll dolls dressed up in knockoff NHL uniforms on defense and this year’s model of starting goalie <insert name> who is either playing hurt or will look like they are playing hurt.

Seriously, that defense is a sight. Morgan Reilly and Jake Gardiner are deec but Roman Polak? Matt…Hunwick? Who the hell are these dudes? Martin Marincin? Did Toronto do a blockbuster swap with the Orlando Solar Bears that I didn’t know about? Wow, Morgan Reilly was second in leafs scoring with 36 points. SECOND. Mmm, cool, he managed 27 assists. That just edges Erik Karlsson’s 25 POWER PLAY assists. Did I mention that was on one of the worst power plays in the league? It’s almost like they are the reigning worst team in the entire league.
Anyway, I’m sure he, Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone will go easy on them out there.

Freddie Andersson (?) gets a rare start in net. Yet another product from the goaltending factory of Denmark. Note to the young netminder: If Hoffman or Karlsson looks like they might take a shot in your direction probably best to just get out of the way. Goalie equipment has come a long way but can only do so much. Be safe tho.

Anyway, whatever. Nothing gets Sens fans in their feelings more than a leafs game on home ice. Regardless of your overall outlook on this year’s model of the Senators, they are way fucking better than the leafs and need to win games like this.

 

Now go out there boys and HAVE FUN.

 

 

 

 

……..no, seriously, win the fucking game. Show a little respect for the community.

 

 

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

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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*

Summer Reading: DEEC Moments In Sens History

DEEC

Hello, how’s your summer? Cool, shut up please, thank you. Listen, I have a very healthy relationship with the sport of hockey. I definitely don’t watch this video every now and then when I’m having a bad day.


No, that would imply that my mood can, in large, be dictated by the outcome of a sporting event and as an adult that would be pathet- OKAY LET’S STOP THE CHARADE.

Look, I’m just a caveperson headbutting their stupid way through life. I need stuff like this to get by. Sure, it’s not a Stanley Cup clinching goal or anything but this video has the makings of a legit DEEC Moment.

  1. Stars a player I really, really like being glorious
  2. The goal is of a hater-ass nature and on a very good (looking) goaltender
  3. The sound the crowd makes is a natural alternative to MDMA
  4. Jimmy O’Brien, who I can barely believe was on the ice in overtime comes through with the uncharacteristic Santana feat. Rob Thomas smoove AF drop pass.
  5. 🙂

 

Up till now, the modern Ottawa Senators greatest moment has been Daniel Alfredossauce’s 2007 overtime goal against Buffalo to send les boys to the Stanley Cup Final. Proud of this we each and every last one us are. As indelible a moment as that is, I am starting to realize we’re fast approaching the “That was like 10 years ago” era. I suppose this is in part due to the fact that since the NHL added 24 more teams to the league, huge moments don’t grow on trees or who knows what type of foliage (no judgements).

Nothing of that level of consequence has happened for the Sens in the near decade since that goal but I’d like to go on a psychedelic rock ride™ with you to explore a few of the DEEC Moments that have occurred in the mean time. Some are big and memorable, some are just little hater-ass nuggets. Come away with me, it’s August.

 

Craig Anderson’s Debut for the Ottawa Senators

As the reigning champs of tracking the career of every player that is traded from the team, nothing says more about Ottawa’s goaltending troubles post-2007 than the complete lack of longing for Brian Elliot. Since he was dealt, dude’s won a Jennings Trophy, played in an All Star game, set a franchise record for shutouts with the Blues and just generally posted excellent numbers. Our reaction: None.

I’ve heard more longing for Ben Bishop who played 13 games for the Sens. I think the complete lack of fucks donated to Elliott’s post-trade success shows how frustrated we fans were when he was dealt.

Enter Greg Anderton. I knew him as Western Conference guy who could win you your hockey pool one year but then maybe bottom out the next. Considering we traded him straight up for the 13-19-8, 3.19 GAA Elliot I didn’t expect much. Fortunately, he’s been one of the better goalies that our franchise has seen since, and it all started in his debut performance:

http://video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=98802
(Sorry, Gary HUSSEIN Bettman wants to take all easily viewed Youtube vids from us)

A Saturday night road game in Toronto broadcast on Hockey Night in Canada and called by Bod Cole. No matter how bad the leafs are (saying something!), that just feels like a guaranteed loss. What did we get? A hate hate HATIN-ass 47 save shutout, shootout win. Flawless victory for Andy. I remember watching this game alone (that’s right) perched on the edge of the chesterfield (that’s right) after the win was in the books and saying aloud to myself “Lifetime pass…lifetime pass.” That was one of the few good nights of that whole goddamn season and Craig made it so near singlehandedly. What other Sens goalie has his own (positive) chant? Lifetime pass.

 

This Clarke MacArthur Pass that Kyle Turris Had Enough Respect for the Community to Bury

Yaaas, my Kweens! Expose theeem, draaaag them!

And in the heritage jersey too. Considering Clarkey was healthy scratch for the leafs for TWO playoff games just a few months prior to this, I was not expecting to see anything resembling this level of skill from him when he was signed here. The fact that the goal is scored by alleged “enigmatic brat” turned gentlemanly first line centre who we traded magic beans for? Makes it all the more DEEC a moment. A play to remind us that sometimes the dice roll ole’ Ottawa’s way.

 

Erik Karlsson’s Entire Career..ugh, Fine, If I Have to Pick How About Him Winning That Second Norris

LOLz. Slight jump in DEECness levels here. I chose this moment because in this particular case, your man won another Norris after his devastating Achilles injury. A YEAR AFTER. The night of that injury I was laying in bed wide awake (healthy relationship w/ the sport of hockey) thinking in circles that we’d possibly never see the same electrifying Erik Karlsson again. He’s kind of even fucking better now somehow. We’re in the midst of watching a Hall of Fame career unfold. Enjoy it purely from time to time.

 

Sens Are Going to Have A Stadium Downtown, You Know, Just Like a Big Kid Team!

Please I’d never subject you to a video of an NCC meeting. Instead enjoy this clip of another DEEC moment where the Sens stormed back from a 3-0 deficit (given up in the 1st!) to beat the Penguins and keep their playoff dreams alive.

Seriously though, I am so thrilled about this new arena thing. Never thought it would happen. Our stadium is fine but real talk it’s located beside an outlet mall in a farm field. Cleveland has three stadiums downtown. Three. Cleveland = Three.

 

Chris Phillips Scores 2.8% of His Career Goals During his 1000th Game

Look at the man’s face on that second goal. Guy deserved a DEEC moment like that. We all did. No shade, Phillips was a Marine for the Sens but his long career is not exactly brimming with highlight moments. Salute to this one. C whut eye did they’re?

 

Mark Stone Seals The Most Hater Ass Run to the Playoffs In Team Herstory

(at the 10:12 mark. Sorry so sloppy)
…m8…m8

I chose this of the many DEEC moments from the Hamburger Heard Round the 4th Most Popular North American Sport World Era not just because it capped off a run the likes of which we’ll probably never see again. I chose it because it is the perfect encapsulation of the “Holy shit we have a very special player on our hands here” experience that was watching Mark Stone that season.

Here we are, stressfully up just one goal in the third period of an absolute, hack the bone level must-win game. Only Stone left in the O zone while his teammates go off for a change. He strips the puck from Philadelphia star that no one cares about Jakob Voracek and in all alone makes no mistake on Artist’s Conception of a goaltender Steve Mason. Beyond clutch. Resembles something another jewel of a late round pick round pick might do. Which reminds me…

 

This

That series with Montreal was such an emotional thrill ride that I don’t remember the following series against the Pens save for this moment. This one is staying in the old brain bin forever. What a captain. Truly a DEEC Moment in post-2007 history.

 

Perhaps This Moment Was Mildly DEEC

Closure. I should go easy on the Alfie Moments. I could do a whole post just about his contributions to DEEC Culture post-2007. Gotta sway back to some Young and/or Hungry Sens moments.

 

#Rispekgate

Excuse me but that exchange was on some Sun Tzu shit.

Now, as you well know, part of your responsibility as a Sens fan is to be on the side of the villain. No one out there is rooting for us or even likes us. Like I said, if certain other teams went on that run to the playoffs on the back of an undrafted AHL goalie like Ottawa did two seasons ago, they’d have made a commemorative coin for it. This being our reality, we must enjoy our small hater-ass victories personally. This piece of art is one for the ages. I’m truly sorry things didn’t work out better here with MacLean. He seemed like he had so much potential to be a special coach. Regardless, the way he fried Michel Therrien’s mind grapes while making him look like a humongous, bracelet wearing lizard baby was truly masterful. Awe, domage, les pauvres canadiens! Won’t someone step in and stop these heroes from getting their heads kicked in by the big, bad #7 seed? Somewhere on a dock in Nova Scotia right now, there’s a sly smile hiding under a gigantic moustache.

 

Unveiling the Heritage Jersey

Peace to the design gawd @Le_Collectif and, you know what, credit to the Sens for letting him cook on an official level. Before the Great War, I grew up never thinking twice about the Sens logo and jersey. It was fine, I liked it. I’d draw it on my binder and things of that nature. Then the design started changing and changing and the team looked worse and worse as more eyeliner, chevrons and speed lines were added to it.

Over time, things were scaled back a bit and the jersey came to settle where it is now. I could at least live with it. I didn’t like it but it was shaped up to a better look than the dreaded Senagoth days (not that hard). Then the slap in the face that was the SNES flying squirrel arms jersey was delivered. I was hopeless when I saw that some people actually bought those. Flash forward to the day I pulled on my Heritage jersey. I actually felt proud for the first time since I put on my first Sens jersey as a bright eyed 45 year old back in 1992. If we’re gonna play like a “hope for a wildcard spot” team at least (some games) we can look DEEC doing it.

 

And Now…The Most DEEC Moment Since Alfie’s 2007 OT Goal

You already knew.

A French kid. From Ottawa. Against a hated rival. On home ice. With their MVP goalie in net. Kid gets his tooth knocked out off a slash to the face on the first goal. Pageau responds by scoring 2 more. Fans respond by mocking the most annoying song in the history music with the now staple “Pageau” chant. Salut les hateurs! Added bonus: Listen to Bob Khol’s reaction on that third goal. Was not joking about that playing the villain role thing earlier😉

For all the putting down the team’s penchant for acquiring local players, which I lowkey think is really just code to talk about how Mark Borowiecki sucks, you gotta hear both sides in a moment like this. Magique. I’d give Pageau an 8 year deal off the rip for this.

 

I actually have a bunch more moments big and small to share but I think you’re probably fed all the way up with reading the words “DEEC” and “hater-ass” at this point.

 

Got some DEEC post-2007 moments you want to contribute to the community? Put em in the comments or share them on twitter. Disagree with some of my choices? Slide into my DMs with your address and I will mail you a rope for you to go piss up.

 

THXu 4 Reading.

 

The Verdict Part 4: The Real Problem

Euge

Eugene Melnyk First off, I am very glad that Eugene is healthy again. Thanks to an extremely brave and unspeakably generous person he’s been given a second lease on life. Lowkey,  the most amazing fan moment in team history.  Oh, you threw a hamburger on the ice and Curtis Lazar took a bite of it, Sheldon Cutestory?
How about this person saved the owner’s fuckin’ life and hit him with the wild “Now win us a Cup.” Swish from full court…backwards.
Okay, these real-talk transitions  don’t get any easier to do, so in the spirit of “now win us a Cup” I’ll just dive in.
As all three of you may have noticed reading through the previous 3 parts of this series, aside from coaching, the actual changes I would make to player personnel are more complimentary than core. Would I part way with guys like Wiercioch and Chiasson? Yeah, but they aren’t making or breaking the team. Despite a bad performance this season, I’d like many of the players to remain on the team.
My biggest gripe up to now was always the need for a proven top 4 defenseman. Now that it’s been addressed, I wouldn’t be against giving a similar lineup a mulligan. Especially with a healthy Turris, MacArthur and non-broken finger edition Bobby Ryan. I don’t think they’re ready for the President’s Trophy but in a Florida leading the division with a 66 point, 44 year old leading scorer paradigm,  I think the East is still open enough to do some damage without having to sign Stamkos (whom I hear is very interested in signing in Ottawa for a discount).I was okay with Murray stepping down and Cameron getting the axe but really, if they got one more year too, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Actually, Cameron played Mark Borowiecki as a forward more than once so…good luck in future endeavors (Last time I will bring that up, I promise).No, in all seriousness, for me, the main issue holding this franchise back is ownership. Eugene Melnyk saved the Sens from Bankruptcy when he came in and bought the team and now he’s ruining them. He’s BEEN ruining them for a minute too. It’s one thing that his personal finances have deteriorated. It’s another that he’s stepping on the coach and management’s toes and meddling with their ability to make the “on ice product” the best it can be. Think potential coaches didn’t notice that Dorion said the money was there to sign a big name only to be contradicted by the owner like a day later?
If you can’t pay them you can’t pay them, why state your reluctance to sign the cheque to the media? I thought this guy was a fucking businessman. I’m a BLOGGER [who’s definitely not a virgin] and even I know that was a dumb move.I’ve heard it said the The Euge is the owner with the passion of a fan. That’s true but here’s the thing: I talk about hockey with a lot of different people. He does talk like a fan but he talks like the type fan that 2 minutes into talking to them I think to myself, “This guy doesn’t really know what he’s fucking talking about…but, you know, love the passion!” What kind of fan does he sound like? Ah, yes, the type of fan that you’re glad isn’t the one making the decisions. That’s where things are messed up in the organization. He’s imposed his influence, he’s meddling and he’s not a professional. No greater proof of that than how he handled the question of Dave Cameron’s future in the press. He should take a queue from the Anaheim Ducks owner and how they handle press…oh wait I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA WHO THAT IS BECAUSE YOU NEVER HEAR ANYTHING ABOUT THEM. Euge isn’t the only owner who has had a reputation for being what leading anthropologists classify as “The Worst.” Daryl Katz, Charles Wang, “Dollar” Bill Wirtz, and hell, peace to the originator Harold Ballard [thanks for making the leafs awful btw!] come to mind. Most of the time, if you know the the name of a sports franchise’s owner it is because they are: Meddling with operations, broke, holding the team back out of sheer cheapness, or threatening to move the team if some expensive toy they want isn’t handed to them [usually by the city] on a silver platter. Any of this sound familiar?

Personally, for a long time I’ve thought that Bryan Murray has flattered The Euge’s penny pinching with many of his signings and trades. But you can only really get away with dealing with those kind of constraints for so long before the cracks show. This was probably best evidenced by Alfie’s failed final contract negotiations and the “you can have Spezza OR Ryan but not both” ultimatum. See also: the current downplaying of re-signing the team’s leading goal scorer. Some of these magic moments can be blamed on managerial blunders but others are definitely due to just not being able to make certain financial commitments work because of lack of available resources.

Operating under the cap in spending is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a blessing to have payroll flexibility with a team as young Ottawa’s. As kids develop and perhaps emerge as core players they will ultimately earn bigger pay days. You have to factor that in so you need some cap space to keep them in the fold down the line. But “flexibility” isn’t really what the Sens have, do they? No, it’s a money in, money out fixed internal cap. Again, Murray’s Turris, Karlsson, Stone, and Methot contracts (among others) were amazing. A first line centre for under 4 million? A two time Norris winner and team captain for under 7? Two of the best deals in the league / sports (and for term!). Those aren’t the kind of deals that you’re going to be able to lock down over and over. Especially when trying to fill needs on the market. Also, Turris and Karlsson and Stone are going to need to be re-signed at some point. I’m sure this is the first you’ve heard of this. We Sens fans are not absolutely obsessed with this at all.

Not that you needed any of this pointed out [sad!] but why I feel like Eugene is the biggest problem facing the team is this:  Deep down I believe he is stalling the sale of his team as long as he can and operating the Sens on a shoestring season after season to pay down debt so the franchise is worth as much as possible when he eventually does sell it. It’s his business to run and I get why this would happen. However, if he truly loved the team as much as he says he does he’d realize it could be much better and more stable without such tight constraints on spending “when the time is right.”
I don’t know what to believe when he speaks (problem: I rarely believe him). I’m no Dom Trumps, you know, the business genius who bankrupted a casino, but when he says that in this market, you need to make the 2nd round of the playoffs to break even I don’t know how to make sense of that. The numbers show that attendance is very good compared to the rest of the league. This despite Ottawa being a city of 1 million people whose hockey fandom is divided in three among smart, good looking Sens fans who have pleasant smelling breath, and the remaining fucklords who attempting to connect with their parents, cheer for one of two other cities stupid, dumb teams [for jerks]. The team operates millions and millions of dollars under the salary cap, recently got a TV deal, the owner also owns the arena where Garth Brooks just had a sold out, month long residency. Oh and by the way it’s not always pretty but the team DOES make the playoffs most years. They’ve only missed 3 times in the 12 seasons he’s owned the team. The Panthers are older than the Sens, just made the playoffs for the 5th time EVER and didn’t even sell those games out. How are they making it work?
I digress. Operating the way he asks, he can’t expect things to somehow improve. We’re going to games, we’re buying the merch. We’re doing our bit. We’re also supposed to believe that the plan is that the Sens just magically make the playoffs past the first round every year, as is? That’s a risky plan when you consider the Islanders just won ONE round for the first time since Mika Zibanejad was born. They didn’t do it one time under the sole ownership of notorious cheapskate and Proto-Melnek, Charles Wang.

The Sens are still a relatively new franchise and I think a lot of current fans were converted during the Sens powerhouse years.  Melnyk is not helping develop the brand by creating an environment to scrape by in, badmouthing his employees and the players while threatening and even in some cases blaming fans in the media.

He is simply too broke to be in the business of winning anymore and it becomes more obvious with each passing season. His attitude toward his paying customers is contemptuous and alienating and this almost worries me the most as a person who lives and dies on Senators hockey. Thank you for saving the Sens, Eugene. We had a hell of a run with you writing the checks but face it now someone needs to save you.

 

Verdict: Sell the team to Rich Uncle Space Clown.

 

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The Verdict Part 3: Coaching, Management & Moves

Verdict

Daaaaaamn, Judgey Judgerton back at it again with the inconsequential taaaaaakes

Coaching 

Dave Cameron Ugh. This.

K. As much as some seem folk out there to want it to be, this bad season is not all on Dave Cameron…but also gotta hear both sides because this guy wasn’t all that great as a coach too.
The tough thing with evaluating coaches is that you’ll never know the full story behind 100% of their decisions but at the end of the day, some of Dave’s came off kind of desperate and didn’t make much sense.
The team had a lot of injuries this year and I’m sure that messed up his plan. I’d be willing to bet it wasn’t in his grand design to have to start either O’Connor or Dreiger in the home opener or to put Pageau on the top line.
That said, when judging Cam’s performance it always comes down to one decision for me: Playing Mark Borowiecki as a forward. I know I’m like a broken record with this but it’s only because this one is cut and dried just a horrible, avoidable decision that in no way helped the team win. It’s not as if Boro had a history of playing both defense and forward in college (a time for experimentation!). Nor does Boro even have an applicable skill set to warrant the decision to move him there. If Cameron, had played, say, Chris Wideman, up front I could wrap my head around that. He’s a crafty puck handler with a great speed and a hard, accurate shot. Wiercioch as a forward for a game? I could see that too potentially, I guess. Why Boro?

Related: How TIGHT would you be if you were Cole Schneider leading the BSens in points and the shutmost of shutdown defenseman was getting the nod to fill in ahead of you. Damn.

Speaking of player usage, I’d like to bring up one thing that I just cannot forget about: One of the questions asked of Cameron in his first presser after he took over for MacLean was “Will this be the end of Line Juggling Bingo” and Cameron said, “I’ve never been big on juggling the lines.” Then less than a calendar year later we have shit like Boro at forward and Bobby Ryan in a “non-scoring” role. Like injuries shminjuries WTF? He ended up worse than MacLean with the bingo balls in just one full season.
Could Cameron have been given another year? Yeah. He’d have probably had better results with a healthier line up and a year of Phaneuf instead of Cowen/Wiercioch.
Was Murray too zesty to extend him for multiple years given mistakes of the past? Definitely. With so little NHL experience Cameron would have accepted a one year contract.
Finally, did Ol’ Coach Blue Eyes seem in over his head a little at times? I think, like every coach since Bryan Murray, it showed. Post-Hartsberg/Paddock/Clouston/MacLean and now Cameron I think the team does need to return to someone with NHL head coach experience.

Verdict: Right to part ways but I propose a media blackout of Eugene Melnyk.

André Tourigny Did you run the power play? Well you’re fuckin’ fired.

Simple as this: How you gonna have the 9th highest scoring team in the N HAITCH L and have a 15% power play?

Verdict: Right to part ways.

Jason Smith Are you the defensive coach? Well you’re fuckin’ fired.

This guy arguably did a worse job than Tourigny. I’m pretty bummed that he was shuffled around the organization and not dismissed outright but whatever. The defensive coach will be different next year and that’s what matters most to me as a fan.

Verdict: Absolutely should have been dismissed.

Rick Wamsley Uhhh, look lady, this ain’t my real job, okay?

A huge reason credited to Hammond’s emergence was Rick Wamsley’s coaching. A big factor leading Matt O’Connor to sign here was a chance to work with “Wammer”. Seems rash to get rid of him. I also heard he played a big role in running practice drills which were apparently shit, M8. So…

Verdict: I plead even more ignorance than usual. I suppose this gives the new coach a chance to fully staff their ranks going forward? Man, this coach of the future better slaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Luke Richardson I would like to start off by acknowledging that Luke Richardson is an awesome and inspirational person who has been through unimaginable stuff. My respect for him and his family almost makes writing stuff like this objectively quite challenging. Here goes nothin…

On a professional level, one thing I’ve never quite understood is the degree to which Luke was coveted as the golden goose of the coaching staff. So much fear of Luke over being snatched away by Tim Murray was expressed over the years. Like, I wouldn’t be thrilled about that happening I guess but I don’t know if that what it is about him leaving that had people so shook. A couple of good seasons in Bingo, one DEEC season and then one brutal one. Kurt Kleinendorst won a Calder Cup and was gone just one season later. I don’t remember uproar about that. Life goes on.

Luke seems like a positive guy and a very good communicator from what I can gather from interviews. These qualities in a coach  don’t grow on trees, unfortunately. With his eyes set on a chance at an NHL job, with the Sens regime change, it obviously wasn’t going to happen for him here. I think Dorion is banking on the next coach having NHL experience and for them to be in charge for a few years. Makes sense if it will be best for both parties to move on.

Verdict: A tough one. I hate that the organization loses such a quality person but ultimately I support both a full coaching changeover as well as giving Richardson his best chance to advance his career.

Management

Bryan Murray First off, again, respect to the person. This man is a Marine and a hockey legend. I hope he winds up in the hockey hall of fame sooner than later.  I don’t know if I should really sum up his entire tenure with Ottawa in this small space. That’s another post and one that should probably be written someone more eloquent than me.

Focusing on more recent Brystory, I can see at the end of the last few off-seasons why BMurr would waver about his future only to re-up the next year. He’s built a pretty solid but still growing core here over the years. I’m sure he’d be thinking ‘just a few more moves and this could be something’. There were blunders along the way but I felt this year he cleaned up a few huge ones. Dumping a bunch of burdensome or straight up dead salary for an actual player who can fill a much needed role was undeniably huge. The Phaneuf trade has it’s critics and he deserves blame for putting the team in that position but what I see in that deal is the wizardry required to address team needs without the option of money to fix things.

Under the ever-looming shitcloud of budgetary restrictions, Murray hit some absolute monster home runs as GM. But as the years pressed on, he’s taken his share of L’s too. I think he set the table as best he can. He’s had the management reins for nearly a decade, an eternity in modern pro sport. Deep down I fell much of the heavy lifting has been done and it might be alright for a fresh set of eyes to have a look at things.

Verdict: Not happy to say it but it was probably time.

Pierre Dorion Good luck in future endeavors ha ha ha…no but seriously do not fuck up your future endeavors.

Given the restrictions that Bryan Murray had to work within for the past few years it’s not the worst idea to have a guy who was learned the ropes under a GM who did an admirable job dealing with both the budget AND A MEDDLESOME EGOMANIACAL OWNER – wow. Sorry.
Seriously, Dorion has negotiated some seriously shrewd contracts over the past couple of years. They are a shitty reality necessary to making the club “work” so it’s a vital strength to have as Sens GM. I also really like that PD’s background is in scouting. Something not only helpful for drafting but also figuring out who to acquire in the Mike Hoffman tra—ahahaha *tear*

Under Melnyk the general manager position is a uniquely tense and difficult one. Dorion has been groomed for it for years now. Unlike nearly every goalie we’ve drafted now that he’s been developed he’s actually being kept around and given his shot.

Verdict: Probably one of the few people who actually knows HOW to run this team under current ownership [theme].

 

Randy Lee Made that giant trade with Rocheste and the BSens seemed to improve greatly after. I’m no expert with the BSens (peep the gawd Alicia Straunch’s insight for that) but after an apparent lockey room rift and 2nd last place finish I’m for a new look Binghamton team. Shout out to addressing problems. Seems like they changed things up without really sacrificing whatever depth is still there.

Verdict: Brutal BSens season not a good look but at least he did something about it instead of sitting on his hands. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if he did. Good to keep him on board.

In Memoriam: A look back at the players we lost this year. Was it right to let these players set sail?

Milan Michalek Milan Michalek, man…You know, when Milo is talked about in the press it’s never long before how much respect his teammates have for him is mentioned. This is just a pet theory [thx4reading] but I think a lot of it comes from his teammates watching a guy with chronic knee injuries show up to a physical job every day and compete at a high level without complaint. No further proof of that to me than after he was traded to Toronto they promptly shut him down for the year with a knee injury. Damn, he’s had a rough career.

In terms of his usefulness as a player I’ve long said, $4M is a lot of money but blessed is the guy who can fill in on any line without issue, kill penalties and chip in with the odd goal. That said, with the injuries piling up and another 4 mill on the books for next season, it was time for our poor ass team to let go of 9MM. Basically the only player on TML’s current roster that I admire.

Verdict: Right to part ways.

Jared Cowen Is it too much to say this guy was basically the Alexandre Daigle of defence? JC had great size, some offensive upside, and WJC pedigree when he was taken 9th overall in 2009 (Seven years ago tbx!). Of course, he never had the hype of Daigle but at least Daigle was kind enough to at least be a DEEC if mediocre player. I mean, he did have a 24 goal 51 point season here. Cowen…gave Jeff Skinner a concussion…so…
Anyway, there’s not much to say about Cowen that hasn’t already been said. On paper he was the perfect partner for Erik Karlsson so can’t blame the organization for taking him high as they did (even if he was their second choice after Nazem Kadri).
Where one absolutely CAN the blame organization is for giving this guy too many goddamn chances. I can think of a few high pedigree players who the organization had the sense to cut ties with. Brian Lee and Nikita Filatov come to mind.  Thank Christ he rejected that 8 year deal that the genius Tim Murray offered him. I guess Cowen’s massive ego came in handy for something. 

Verdict: Extremely LUCKYYYYY to part ways with him.

College Greening I know it’s super outto talk about intangibles these days but if there’s a je ne sais quoi that is REAL real, it’s confidence. Good LORD. What happened to this guy? You know you fell the fuck off when you used to play in the top 3 and BOOM a $2.65M cap hit seems crazy unreasonable for your services.
I don’t know if there’s a player I feel less sympathy for than a handsome, buff 30 year old millionaire with a degree from an Ivy League school. Hope he can land on his feet. 

Verdict: Amazing to dump his contract on the leafs…I mean respectfully and amicably part ways.

Shane Prince *Vapes thoughtfully, exhales a massive cloud of Monster Energy Drink flavoured smoke*

Now that he’s gone one big question looms: Did Shane Prince get the most ideal chance to succeed here? Given Dave Cameron’s questionable player usage, it’s fair to argue he didn’t.
Still, I sometimes wonder if players like Pageau, Hoffman, and Stone really got treated much differently early into the careers. They all started off in and out of the line up by toiling away in the bottom six until further notice. Sure, Prince didn’t play with the most talented line mates but I just don’t know if I can call a player who due to his contract was pretty much guaranteed a roster spot a victim. Also, other than a few games  I must admit he was okay but didn’t exactly dazzle me. That’s not to say I don’t think he’s talented or could be something in the NHL one day but his 3 goals in 42 games left something to be desired.

Take this for what you will but I had heard that since he requested a trade last season, he and the organization did not get along well. I think that might have played a large role in why he was dealt before he’d played even 1 full pro season here. As for the return. Yes, a 3rd round pick is pretty weak but imagine for a second Ottawa acquired a guy who was drafted going on 6 years ago and had 12 NHL points. Would you expect to give up more for that player?
Regardless, I for one am looking forward to every point he gets for the next 5 years to be carefully catalogued on twitter. Please be better than this guy Matt Puempel. I’m begging you.

Verdict: The way this played out I feel like we don’t know the full story here. Probably should have waited out the year before moving him though. He was still a controllable RFA at seasons end. Remember what Hoffman got in arbitration? Could have given him another year for peanuts.

Tobias Lindberg Loved seeing people freak out to the “Lindberg could make the leafs roster full time as early as next year” headlines on TML fan blogs like TSN.ca/NHL. That or the hand wringing over him getting called up all to the bigs all, “SEE we gave away an NHL player” like, okay, also, Toronto is literally the worst fucking team in the league.

Advice: When it comes to giving up players in trades, don’t waste your energy on when the crown jewel of a trade for a top 4 defender who can play 20+ minutes is a guy putting up single digits on a shit team.
I’m calling it, Lindberg’s not going to do much that Nick Paul or Matt Puempel won’t. Save the trade rage for Vezina nominee Ben Bishop being dealt for a dude who’s now a Swiss league player and perennial candidate for the Spengler Cup roster AKA Hockey’s Purgatory.

Verdict: You gotta give up SOMETHING in every trade. Sometimes it’s handsomeness. I think he’s a good player but honestly probably wasn’t going to get much of a shot here. Again, prepare for every point he gets for the rest of his career to be chronicled, bronzed, polished and compulsively rearranged on a shelf beside Silfverberg’s.