Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Crazy Train

You hear it at hockey games. You hear it on classic rock stations 20 times a day. You even hear it on Guitar Hero. Now it’s become the Senators theme song. Eugene Melnyk should be paying Ozzy royalties from the gong show that’s become the Senators this season.

Senators fans will wake up this morning to blanket media coverage of a 40 minute team meeting that ended badly for a few cameramen who were just doing their job. Allen Panzeri of the Ottawa Citizen describes the confrontation:

“Normally mild-mannered Wade Redden told a group of photographers and TV cameramen to stick their cameras where the sun doesn't shine, though in much cruder street language. Brian McGrattan said he should have exposed himself, also in considerably cruder street language.
It wasn't exactly a shining moment in the 16-year history of the franchise.”

You know things have gone badly when one of the players threatens to show his junk to the TV cameras and he’s not even drunk. I’m not sure what the Senators public relations department has been doing the past couple of months, or if the team still has one because the media have been feasting on these guys.

No matter how you feel about Ray Emery, the Senators should have done a better job of putting their spin on the situation. The fact was that Ray was late for a couple of practices yet the media spun it as if Emery went on a killing spree in Vegas and showed up only to urinate on the Senators logo that decorates the dressing room floor.

Coach John Paddock and GM Bryan Murray made no attempts to diffuse the situation and the result is a major fan backlash against a player who may still have to wear a red uniform for at least the rest of the year. Stoked by hack sports radio jockeys like Glen Kulka, callers are even proclaiming that they’d rather lose with Martin Gerber than win with Ray Emery. And where has team president Roy Mlakar been through this mess?

Where’s the damage control? It’s certainly not coming from coach John Paddock. Is there a player he hasn’t thrown under the bus other than Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson? Paddock seems to operate strictly at a minor league level. The players are treated like children who need constant criticism and the minute they go into a funk, they find themselves on a different line or sitting on the bench. Then they have to answer questions from the media because Paddock had just ripped them a new hole in a press conference.

The playoffs are only two months away yet the goaltending situation is more muddled than ever. Paddock has shown no confidence in either one and doesn’t think it proper to let them get more than a game or two to get the ball rolling. Again, strictly minor league.

At some point, you have to think that Bryan Murray should consider the option of moving back behind the bench but that seems utterly far-fetched. Paddock is Murray’s guy and he’s definitely going to at least give him one shot at the playoffs even though blind people can see that this team is headed off the rails in a big way, not just in the dressing room but in the fans living rooms.

And to top it all off, Eugene Melnyk’s company Biovail is now the target of a grand jury investigation for a drug it launched in 2003 while Melnyk was still pulling the levers.

When did the circus leave Toronto and come to Bytown?

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