Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Crime Scene Investigation
After another embarrassing defeat with only one meaningless goal scored against Atlanta, all eyes in Ottawa will now be turning to general manager Bryan Murray.
Unfortunately for Murray and head coach Craig Hartsburg, this brutal loss comes on the heels of Eugene Melnyk going on Toronto sports radio and predicting that the Senators would storm back and finish in the top four of the Eastern Conference.
Sorry Geno, but that's about as likely as Bill Muckalt getting his Senators jersey retired.
At this point in the season, it's become pretty clear that the Senators just don't have the skill to compete in the new high octane NHL and like it or not, Bryan Murray has to take the responsibility for this dramatic drop in team fortunes.
Murray was the one who thought he could get away with a trio of minor leaguer's to boost his offense from the back end after losing the likes of Wade Redden and Andre Meszaros. Now his team looks like it couldn't break out of Mooney's Bay let alone their own end of the ice to execute simple offensive plays that were once taken for granted.
He also hired a coach who now seems to be panicking in a way that only John Paddock managed to surpass. Hartsburg has stopped playing four lines and has somehow managed to find a reason to play energy forwards Shean Donovan and Jarkko Ruutu just over 5 minutes a game, despite the rest of his lines looking like they're skating in mud (an apt description of the heavily criticised ice surface at Scotiabank Place this season).
Hartsburg has also instituted the dreaded "win and you're in" philosophy when it comes to the goalies, despite already having a bonafide number one in Alex Auld. After 2 months of steady play, Hartsburg bizarrely decided to banish Auld to the bench in favour of Martin Gerber who has already done irreparable damage to this team in the past. Now he's got a genuine goalie controversy on his hands and it's his own fault. Auld should have been given one game to rest and then put back in, regardless if Gerber played the game of his life.
Now nothing is certain. The forward lines change from game to game, shift to shift. Shean Donovan was a folk hero a week ago, now he's basically warming the bench.
It's a complete mess and now Bryan Murray has to fix it.
What's clear is that these players are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. The Big 3 look worn out and defeated and it's not even Christmas.
Murray needs to make a move to spark some life into this team. But with the holiday roster freeze going into effect this Friday and a huge road trip coming up, things might actually get worse.
And not to look too far ahead, but Filip Kuba is an unrestricted free agent after this season. In my mind, he's not even worth keeping at what he's getting paid right now but Murray will be forced to overpay just to try to keep an NHL worthy defense roster. That sort of defeats the purpose of the Meszaros trade in the first place doesn't it, especially with Picard looking like he's a marginal player at best.
For some reason, when I look at the above picture of Heatley exploding off of Garnet Exelby, I keep hearing the opening of C.S.I., as if upon their explosive impact you hear Roger Daltry of the Who screaming "Yaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!"
For those of you who had the (dis)pleasure of listening to the latest installment of Over The Edge (Tuesday morning), you were treated to nearly 3 hours of Kulka and Versage railing against what the Senators players wear on their way into the rink from the parking lot.
They took Don Cherry's now infamous "thug" comment and ran with it, saying that the players toques and winter coats (worn in minus 20 weather) are not allowing the players to get into the "proper mindset" to succeed. They seemingly had no explanation about how past Ottawa teams with the same dress code managed to be so successful and overcome their toque problems.
This show, easily the lamest in Ottawa sports radio history, has sunk to a new, once unthinkable low.
At first they told us that it was just "hard work" (ad nauseam) which was the sole criteria for winning games in the NHL. Now it has been expanded to include whether or not the players wear toques and appropriate winter jackets as they pass through the rear shipping doors at the rink.
Over The Edge caters exclusively to the type of fan who feels the inner need to "punish" professional athletes for whatever reason, be it money, fame or whatever it is they don't have themselves.
These types of fans project unrealistic expectations onto athletes which they know can't be fulfilled, giving them an excuse to call them lazy and unprofessional, whether it's based in fact or not.
Kulka and Versage specialize in this type of crap and substitute meaningless (but usually slanderous) chatter for real, informed hockey talk. And if someone calls in and disagrees with them, they get slaughtered live on-air by a raging Kulka who seemingly hasn't grasped the simple fact that talk-radio is supposed to be a two-way platform.
These real "thugs" should get a one-way ticket to the cold street and they better not be wearing toques and winter jackets either.