A quick series of notes for your Saturday:
ESPN came out with their annual player survey where the players are asked questions like "Who is the best leader in the NHL?".
On that particular question, the name of Daniel Alfredsson was noticeably absent. In fact 20 players were given multiple votes and Alfredsson was not one of them. If there was any doubt about how low the Senators stock has dropped among their peers, this clinches it.
However, Zdeno Chara was among those named by his peers and this is a nice segue way into a very important story written by the Ottawa Citizen's Doug Fischer about how the "big one got away".
Along with James Duthie's article on how the players really felt about Craig Hartsburg, Fischer's article on the decision to keep Wade Redden over Chara is the must read of the week.
"Well, of course, if we had kept him we would have made different trades and signings and built the team differently than we did," Murray said in an interview this week.
"A player like Z (pronounced Zee) gives you a presence that is irreplaceable. He has toughness, size and great mobility. He is a fitness fanatic. He can play 30 or 35 minutes a game. He plays the power play and kills penalties. He can shoot a ton. He can fight when he needs to.
"Where can you find a player like that? You can't. He's one of a kind. His leaving was pivotal."
Former Senators head coach John Paddock, one of Murray's assistants during Chara's last season in Ottawa, takes it a step farther.
"It's a tragedy he was allowed to go," Paddock says bluntly. "In 25 years as a coach, I have never seen a player who was as dominant as Z. He is absolutely unique."
Nick Foligno had some interesting comments on Cory Clouston's coaching style in a Chris Stevenson article today:
"Cory brings a different outlook on the game and maybe that's what we needed in this locker room was just a different approach," said F Nick Foligno. "We were so used to being aggressive from the years past, it's hard just to sit back. Now Cory's got us going full steam ahead. It's creating a lot of chances for us. The way we're playing right now is aggressive and I think every guy on the team loves that."
Here's a prediction I may live to regret. It says here that Ottawa gets Clouston his first win tonight against a Buffalo Sabre team coming off an important game against the Habs. The Sabres might be too distracted chasing around Jarkko Ruutu to notice that Ottawa is playing much better as of late.
But they have to watch out for Tim Connolly. This guy has 9 goals in his last 9 games, 18 points in 18 games and is about as skilled as they come. He is an awesome player to watch when he's healthy.
Connolly is due to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and might be had for cheap due to his history of concussion and injury. Could he be a candidate to fill that second line centre role for Ottawa next season? Stranger things have happened.