Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Alfie and Senators Losing Respect - Fans and Local Media Share Blame With Players
The annual Hockey News list of the Top 50 players in the NHL (as seen in their yearbook) is read widely around the league and is a fairly accurate reading of where the big-name players stand amongst their colleagues.
And that’s why it probably hurts fans of the Ottawa Senators to see captain Daniel Alfredsson dropped from the top 50 rankings after being named the 12th best overall just one year ago.
In fact, no other player dropped as far as Alfie to find themselves off the coveted list.
The next guy to drop almost as far was Brenden Morrow who ranked 15th a year ago but is also coming off a lost season when he tore his ACL tendon back in November, causing him to miss the rest of the year.
Alfredsson, meanwhile, played 79 games and racked up 74 points to lead the Senators in points, only experiencing a drop-off of 15 points from the year before. And the two players he scored more points than in fewer games - Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza - both made the list at 43 and 47 respectively (though they did drop mightily from last years rankings – Heatley dropped 33 spots!)
So what gives? Where’s the respect for Alfie from the Bible Of Hockey?
It’s probably due to two factors. Once you pass the age of 35 (Alfie is 36), critics tend to expect a major slowdown no matter your past performance. Once Alfie passed that magic age threshold and had a sub-par year statistically, alarm bells start going off and people start treating you like Mike Modano.
Spezza and Heatley are both just entering their primes and fantasy poolers will be much more forgiving of players with that combination of youth and skill.
But they don’t seem to know Alfie, do they? If anything, Alfredsson has gotten better with age and is a much more commanding presence out there than both Heatley and Spezza. That will probably continue for at least this season and most likely next.
Another factor is that the overall respect level for the Senators organization has taken a mind-blowing nose dive since the Stanley Cup final in 2007. The Ray Emery and Heatley sagas have taken their toll, with a big help from an over-reactive and rabidly conservative local media who have so vociferously attacked a few specific individuals (Spezza, Emery and Heatley) that most of the goodwill the Senators built up in the community over the years has been obliterated. People once looked at the Senators as local heroes and good role-models but now they are wrongly characterized as rich party-hearty jerks who are walking targets for overripe fans who learned all they know about hockey from Glenn Kulka and Lee Versage on their lousy but popular radioshow “Over The Edge”.
All of that goodwill squandered over a few missed practices by a young kid and an annoying trade request by a fading superstar.
When the organization looks bad, even the really good guys, like Alfredsson, Spezza, Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly and Chris Neil get less respect in the hockey world.
Instead of Ottawa fans ripping their own team apart year after year over exaggerated slights, maybe they should focus their energies on actually cheering for their hometown boys and giving them the backing they need to succeed on the ice. Remember when you actually liked hockey? Any of you? It can be that way again if you stop imposing meaningless moral standards on your favourite hockey players and just relax your sphincters for a little while.
Just a suggestion….
Now back to your regularly scheduled “Over The Edge” gong show.