Thursday, June 3, 2010

Welcome To Edmonton East


Yes, Senators fans, that's what it has come to.

For just a moment, pretend what it would look like to an outsider, from afar.

Since the lockout, both the Senators and the Oilers have made a trip to the Stanley Cup finals and lost.

And since that loss, both teams have fallen into a spiral of missing the playoffs and having some of their best players demand trades.

Everybody knows no one wants to play in Edmonton. Just ask the wives of Chris Pronger and Michael Nylander. It's a sad fact, but nonetheless a fact.

Now people are starting to wake up to the fact that Ottawa, through a vocal minority of permanently outraged, reactionary fans and a jaded, cynical press corps, has probably reached the level that Edmonton has sunk to, and, possibly, could be headed further south.

Because once the stink starts to fester around a franchise, it's awfully hard to get that new car smell back, no matter how many promotional DVD's extolling the city you send to the agents of superstars around the league.

At least Edmonton has a stable of future superstars to look forward to and a number one draft pick this summer. Ottawa's cupboards are only starting to fill up again with competent prospects, never mind any bonafide superstars outside the potential of ace Swede Erik Karlsson.

Of course, all this Edmonton East talk is brought on by the latest superstar turmoil in Bytown. And that would be Jason Spezza, whom Black Aces predicted would be the next superstar run out of town after the Dany Heatley saga.

So here we go again kids. Satisfied?

You've likely all heard the now infamous Spezza interview with Carolyn Waldo where he hems and haws his way through questions of his desire to stay in Ottawa. He answers that he'll be here because his contract says he'll be here. There was no ringing endorsement of the team or his future with them. To anyone with half a brain, it sounded exactly like a player who quietly asked his GM for a trade out of town if it was possible (after all, Spezza is nothing if not polite).

And this theory sounds all the more probable when you listen to Bryan Murray say that Spezza was "emotional" at his end of year meeting with him, where Spezza told Murray he was unhappy to be booed throughout the playoffs despite having 7 points in 6 games playing for a team that was without Alex Kovalev, Milan Michalek and Filip Kuba, thereby having to face the Pens shutdown crew every single shift. In my mind, that's actually a good performance, but the legions of Spezza haters in the crowd relished the opportunity to tell him how they really felt.

And by all indications, Spezza felt it. There is no real evidence here, but it's obvious that the kid wants out.

Who can blame him?

He's just following in a long line of Senators players since the lockout to be either discarded by poor management or demonized by an angry fan base who apparently are too young to remember a time when this city didn't even have an NHL team, and don't know how lucky they are that they now have one.

Regardless, here's the informal list.

Zdeno Chara was well liked in Ottawa but then GM John Muckler had to choose to sign one of Big Z or fan favourite Wade Redden in the summer of 2006. Muckler made a mistake in keeping Redden over Chara but the fans didn't seem to have a big problem with this until Redden started to decline rather quickly in the bizarre 2008 season. When he balked at waiving his no-trade clause, the fans turned on Redden,who was once a community hero and franchise defenseman, to the point that we was booed wearing the hometown sweater. Fans seem bitter even to this day, taking every opportunity to point out how bad he is on the Rangers, as if that somehow justifies their moronic behaviour.

Then it was Ray Emery. We all know what happened there. In a city that once literally burned an effigy of Alexei Yashin in the streets of Arnprior, the amount of scorn towards a young, promising, but cock-sure goalie was surprising. He got the boot and everyone believed the Senators "locker-room problems" had been solved.

Then Dany Heatley demanded a trade and gave no indication why, creating a neverending smorgasbord of rumours that live on to this day. The fan disgust was even worse than anything Yashin or Emery endured. Can you sense a pattern here?

It probably didn't help the city's fragile ego when Alexei Kovalev signed in Ottawa as a last resort because they offered him "the most money". He also said he wouldn't mind finishing his career in his beloved Montreal, where the fans loved him so much they actually held a protest outside the rink to convince Bob Gainey to just give him the money.

Predictably, the fans in Ottawa loathed Kovalev right from the start. That too follows a pattern of Senators fans being wary of pure skill players. Maybe they were burned too hard by the likes of Alexandre Daigle and Yashin. The sense of trust was lost forever.

That's the only way to rationalize a fan base turning almost completely against many of the main players who brought the Senators to the only Stanley Cup final in their modern era.

Emery, Heatley (and now possibly Spezza) are gone. A loud group of vocal fans were not happy with the recent Chris Neil contract and like to point that out every chance they get, as if he "snuck" one by the fans. Heart and soul defenseman Anton Volchenkov is about to leave town and the reaction so far has been..... "whatever". The fans would rather see Eugene Melnyk save some of that hard earned money rather than shell out for one of the most unique and physical defenseman in the game, a player who will give his body for the team every single night and never complain about it.

There is a collective shrug of the shoulders.

But let's go back to that word "unique" for a moment.

You could say that Heatley is a unique player. He's a pure sniper who was good for 50 goals nearly every season he wore the red and black. The Senators survived without him, but the fact is that the Sharks, with Heatley, went to the Conference final and finally shed some of their image as a playoff no-show, the same image Ottawa had before they acquired Heatley themselves from the Thrashers. Facts are facts.

But Heatley was not very well liked here even before his trade request and there were whispers he didn't like playing under the shadow of Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher, two players embraced by the community in a rare show of civic enthusiasm.

So be it. Heatley left. Ottawa was worse because of it but their character allowed them to battle back to the playoffs in a somewhat redeeming year. Other players stepped up in his absence and a lot of those goals were recovered.

But go back to Chara. There is no one like him in the NHL. A talent and force unto himself. Would the Senators have beaten the Ducks in that crucial final series, with Chara balancing out the size and leadership of Chris Pronger? We'll never know. A unique talent left Ottawa because of money and that will forever remain an unanswered question.

Look at Volchenkov. You could sign three beasts like Andy Sutton but it still won't be the same. Volchenkolv is a unique talent and deserves to be paid like one. It looks like the Senators won't do that and the fans don't seem too squeamish about it.

That's fine. Life goes on. But now let's look at the case of Spezza.

Let's pretend the warning signs are for real. Spezza wants out of town. Murray is forced to find a trade partner. He needs to get back a number one centre for this team. Is he going to find it?

Of course not. What kind of trade would make sense for both teams in the equation? The only trade that seems possible is trading one problem for another. You either trade Spezza for a top prospect and face a rebuilding era or you get back another expensive number one centre who was a problem for his old team. Like Vincent Lecavalier. Or pick your poison.

Spezza is one of the top 3 pure playmaking centres in the game and you're not going to get one of the other two in a trade. So, no matter who he gets traded for, the Senators will be worse off, at least in the short term.

The constant siphoning off of "unique" talent will take it's toll. It already has. This was once a team on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup. Now a first round defeat seems like a victory.

The new important word will be "mediocre". Because that is what this team is turning into (or already has) because there is no value placed on skill by their fan base, which in turn forces the management to have to trade these guys because they are unhappy.

The only reason Ottawa isn't in the bottom third of the league is because they have at least kept their unique character players such as Alfie, Fisher, Neil, Jarkko Ruutu, Chris Kelly and Chris Phillips. Given half a chance, a lot of fans would throw at least half these guys overboard as well. Just read the blogs and the message boards where the rabid hardcore fans reside.

The Senators now have a strong group of character guys that you need, but no team wins the Stanley Cup without the elite offensive players (or at least one, in the case of Carolina), especially in the "new NHL".

Just take a look at the current Cup final. Both Chicago and Philadelphia have many different components of skill and grit. Some players are pure goal scorers and are lucky to have one hit a night. Others carry their stick like a shovel and are there to bash brains in when needed. It's a formula that is tried and true.

But what's Ottawa's formula going forward? How do you win a Stanley Cup without a number one centre? Without an elite shutdown defenseman? Without a winger that will score you 40 to 50 goals a year?

If Jason Spezza has asked to be traded, as I believe he may have, the Senators are in a world of trouble going forward. Murray will never get equal value in a trade and he is in a situation where his franchise player, Alfredsson, needs to win now because of his age. If Murray decides he wants to tear it down, he has only one player in the stable who could possibly carry the tag of franchise player, and that's Karlsson.

That's what happens when you let unique talent either leave or get unhappy. You turn into a mediocre team. Sure, you save money for Eugene Melnyk, or you take that saved money and throw it away on average players to compensate for losing the better ones. Players like Michalek and Kovalev are good examples. They are fill-ins for losing a 50 goal scorer. Like someone once said, "Nice guys are nice, but get me some assholes who can play".

And where has Murray been when all this talent has become unhappy in the nations capital? He's sat by the sidelines as the fans and media rip into players beyond all reason and has barely lifted a finger to defend anybody. He has finally come out in defense of Spezza by saying that he's an easy target because when his game is off, he looks bad because he's not a physical player. That's a fairly tepid defense and has come far too late. The toothpaste is out of the tube.

Do you think old-school guys like Brian Burke or Glen Sather would let the fans and media get away with so many rip-jobs on their players without saying a word? If Murray is unhappy with a player, he should say it. Likewise, he should defend them to death as well. Murray didn't have any trouble ripping into broadcaster Jim Fox a few years ago when Fox suggested that Murray incited violence after a Kings-Sens game got out of control. We know Murray has the fire. So why isn't Murray protecting his most valuable assets when they get ripped all day long on team sponsor stations like the Team 1200, where making a mockery of Spezza and his personality has been a staple for years now?

Many people will be happy to see Spezza leave town, just like they were happy to see the others leave.

But haven't you noticed that the team just isn't that good anymore?

Can you connect the dots here at all?

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article. I just wish that somehow, the 'hardcore' arm-chair GMs would understand what they're doing to this team.

I still believe that everyone who pays for a ticket, or jersey, or hat, has a right to their opinions. I just wish that everyone wasn't so bitter.

You don't know what you've got till it's gone.

Jeremy Milks said...

Fans always have a right to an opinion. And I have a right to point out how moronic those opinions usually are! Not that I have all the answers, but the negative fan base is really getting tiresome in this city.

Pierre said...

You can blame Murray for the team's decrepitude, Jeremy.

When Murray came on board he had an incredibly deep and YOUNG team, one of the youngest in the league.

Slowly, the talent has left...and I point the finger directly at Murray. The same man who had no idea whether Corvo had ever played on a man advantage, the same man that is OBSESSED with grinders and 30 year olds.

Look at the guys he had traded for:

Corvo (30-40 D-man, meh defensively) for pluggers Commodore and Stillman. Got Martin Lapointe too.

Two second round picks for 30somethings and slowish Cullen and Sutton. That's two YOUNG players this team could groom for two OLD guys that are gone.

Signed Kovalev, deteriorating and OLD to a TWO year deal.
Gave FOUR year deals to Kelly, Neil (these are 28-29 year old guys without much talent) when a two year deal would have sufficed, given this team's window is closed.

On top of that he gave a pity signing to Matt Carkner, who was ineffectual against the Penguins outside his lucky bounce in OT.

Our team has gotten slower, grindier and older in a league that's getting faster, younger and speedier and more skilled.

The Bryan Murray formula is a dud. He's not building the 1994 Florida Panthers, he's supposed to be building the 2011 Senators.

Sadly, Melnyk is BLIND and the media are enamored with the Murrays. Surelny some day a reckoning will come?

As for Spezza, he HAS asked for a trade since February, "allegedly". He is tired of the booing and since he SEES this team is no longer a contender in the NHL he likely wants to greener pastures.

With Murray's and Clouston's contracts ending and another athlete wanting out, Melnyk should take this chance to kickstart a short term rebuild. Ask the core guys where they want to go and brng in young guys and more young guys so we have a fast, skilled young team to be proud of.

Won't happen.
Won't ever happen because as long as Melnyk believes in 'tweaks' and as long as Murray is here, the team will take the easy, lazy way out.

Lastly, Alfredsson isn't winning a Cup here. No one is. If he really wants to win he'll ask out too. Blasphemy I know but I'm not living in a dreamworld where the Cup is handwrapped to us because Melnyk deludedly thinks that "the cream rises to the top" because it has an Ottawa Senators jersey.

Christ, even Toronto has finally got it and is going younger. Look at how young CHicago is. Philly has kids on its team...where's the mental block here?

Hockey Junkie said...

Well, NOW I'm depressed. Great article though, as always.
I'm not from Canada or at least from USA, so I can't watch closely all the media. But I still can see those fans you're talking about and I can't get what is their problem. They should be happy, that they have NHL right on the door step. I know, when your team is losing it's bad, but it's not the best reason to boo one of the best players on team.
Spezza's play is more good. He was injured, his linemates was injured and I'm pretty sure that Heatley's saga didn't help him at all. I just hope he'll stay. Losing him and Volch in one summer would be disasterous.

AndrewW said...

First of all, awful stuff listed here. Then again, we don't know the personal things that cause these issues.

To begin with, for anyone who was paying attention to the cap issues, Redden and Chara were going to cost a lot of money each. To drop 12-14 million on our top two defensemen when we also had Volch and Phillips wasn't going to happen, most people accepted it. Unfortunately, Muckler picked wrong and went with Redden. From what I've heard, Chara was disappointed to leave Ottawa.

Secondly, Emery. That dude went way off the deep end after his Cup Finals appearance made him even more "cocksure". He was a dickhead to the coach, disrespected the leaders, and just had a terrible year. Maybe it was a media created disaster, but it's a shame that one of Spezza's best friends acted so irresponsibly when he was at his peak.

Thirdly, Heatley's trade request was a slap in the face. It was "leaked" through a source (as if Murray informing 29 other teams that our star sniper is available is something that would be kept hush hush), which was his main complaint over the matter. The fact is, he was cowardly about it and will not give the fans the explanation they deserve. Angry fans who bought Heatley jerseys and defaced them deserve some kind of explanation. After all, it's not the first time we've been dissed like this before.

Finally, on to Spezza. We don't know what's happening, but what we do know is that people booed him after Crosby made him look ridiculous. It happens. Then again, the ovation the fans gave the team after game 6 was an acknowledgment that we appreciated everything that they have done this year. This team wasn't booed off the ice, they were cheered.

Finally, on Volchenkov, the collective "meh" that you're hearing is a fan base that has accepted that we need to move on. He simply doesn't fit into the cap. Moving one of our other heart and soul players who are paid too much (Kelly, Ruutu, Neil, etc) doesn't seem to be an option to you, so where does he fit? If he wants $5 million a year, that's fantastic for him because he'll probably get it. But it's not really a good long term plan, and could lead to him being ostracized like others who are paid too much.

When Heatley and Spezza were signed for $7 million, the fans loved that we were keeping these two fantastic players. However, Alfie took the hometown discount and had a better year than both of them after the Cup Finals. And the year after. The media has the right to rip into these players when they aren't living up to expectations, and they're silly to think they can avoid it. Every player who's paid more than $7 million gets daily criticism - Gomez, Drury, Lecavalier, Thornton, I could go on, but by putting themselves in that pay grade, they have to expect this. It's a hockey mad market, and we have high expectations.

I do agree with you that Ottawa fans can be absolutely obnoxious. But unfortunately, unique talents have unique personalities as well. We don't know how they get along. I doubt Heatley wanted out because of the fans. And I doubt fans drove Emery to be a pain in the ass (if anything, we inflated that ego). And fans loved Redden and supported him all the way until his very public but not public personal issues led him to become the biggest bust on skates in the league today. Few people get cheered through disasters like those.

I don't want Spezz gone at all. I hope he stays. The fans will love him when he's great, and hate him when he stinks. There will always be fans willing to imagine convulted trade scenarios that will get us a pile of first rounders or another star center, or a goalie, or whatever. The internet lets these people exist, and to say that Ottawa fans and media are worse than fucking Eklund, well, we're not that bad.

Anonymous said...

My comment is too long. So it is a two parter.


Jeremy, there's a few facts to this whole debacle that lead me to believe that this whole drama is being created by Bryan Murray. The fans are getting sucked in.

My belief is that Murray has never liked Spezza as a player, and he is looking for a way to get rid of him.

One key piece of information, that isn't reported in this current storyline, is the details of Spezza's contract.

If you Google the newspaper articles that were written back in 2007, when Spezza's contract was signed, all reports indicated that Spezza's contract included a series of signing bonuses.

If those reports are to be believed, Spezza's contract was structured much like Heatley's. He is due a $4M payment on July 1.

What that means, is that it is unlikely that a team will make a serious offer for Spezza until Melnyk pays Spezza the $4M bonus.

Some would say that a team would trade for him before July 1, because he could veto the trade after July 1. I'd say that it's highly unlikely that a team makes an offer before July 1.

Why would any team trade for a player like Spezza if he doesn't want to play for them? They would be on the hook for a $4M payment. On top of that, if he's unhappy, they'd have a tough time trading him for full value, due to his NTC. Spezza could essentially pick his destination, and the team would get little in return.

For these reasons, Spezza will only be traded, if Spezza wants to be traded. He will only be traded to a team that he wants to go to.

Bryan Murray knows that.

Anonymous said...

My comment is too long. So it is a two parter.


Jeremy, there's a few facts to this whole debacle that lead me to believe that this whole drama is being created by Bryan Murray. The fans are getting sucked in.

My belief is that Murray has never liked Spezza as a player, and he is looking for a way to get rid of him.

One key piece of information, that isn't reported in this current storyline, is the details of Spezza's contract.

If you Google the newspaper articles that were written back in 2007, when Spezza's contract was signed, all reports indicated that Spezza's contract included a series of signing bonuses.

If those reports are to be believed, Spezza's contract was structured much like Heatley's. He is due a $4M payment on July 1.

What that means, is that it is unlikely that a team will make a serious offer for Spezza until Melnyk pays Spezza the $4M bonus.

Some would say that a team would trade for him before July 1, because he could veto the trade after July 1. I'd say that it's highly unlikely that a team makes an offer before July 1.

Why would any team trade for a player like Spezza if he doesn't want to play for them? They would be on the hook for a $4M payment. On top of that, if he's unhappy, they'd have a tough time trading him for full value, due to his NTC. Spezza could essentially pick his destination, and the team would get little in return.

For these reasons, Spezza will only be traded, if Spezza wants to be traded. He will only be traded to a team that he wants to go to.

Bryan Murray knows that.

Anonymous said...

Here's part 2.

Spezza's contract was also front loaded. Come July 2, only $29M is left to paid over the next 5 years. That's less than $6M a year for any team that wants him. That's great value. Many teams would jump at that.

Problem is, Melnyk won't be too pleased about playing Santa again.

Bryan Murray knows that.

This whole drama is pretty smelly. Since the Sens have been eliminated, Murray has been unnecessarily stirring the pot when it comes to Spezza. He has said "He is what he is". Not exactly an endorsement. In fact, comments like these invite the dogs to attack.

Also, you don't talk a guy down, if you're trying to get full value in a trade. You build him up. You also keep everything hush hush.

If teams know you want to get rid of a guy, they'll give you less.

Also, on several occasions, Murray has talked about Spezza being "very emotional" at season's end. If that's true, why would you leak the details of private conversations. It makes no sense. What goes in the room, stay in the room.

Here's what I believe:

I think Murray is trying to provoke Spezza into asking for a trade. That would give Murray the cover he needs to trade him. When he gets less than full value, he'll tell the fans he had no choice. Make Spezza the villain.

When Melnyk is upset about losing another $4M, he'll say he needs players who want to be here, otherwise it would be a distraction.

Murray has talked about wanting to meet Spezza before July 1. I guarantee that anything Spezza says in that meeting will be spun to further this dysfunctional narrative.

In my view, Spezza has handled things perfectly. Carolyn Waldo asked him about the situation, and he said "I'll be here if they'll have me". Asked about the trade request, "I don't know where that is coming from". Perfect.

The guy doesn't need to say anything else. He's a professional. He's not there to attend to the emotionally unbalanced fringe of the Ottawa media or fan base. It's not his job to make the media and fans feel loved. Go find some friends.

I take him at his word. He'll show up for work if the team wants him. If the team doesn't want him, you can be sure that he'll exercise his contractual rights to make the best of the situation.

As he should.

I think Jason Spezza can become the most popular player in the history of the franchise. But, that will only happen when we have a management team in place that believes in the guy. That management has to convey that belief by building a team around him. Let him focus on his strengths. They also have to formally recognize him as a leader. And finally, they also have to convey that belief by backing him up publicly to the media. If the management team believes in the guy, the media will pick up that narrative, and that will go a long way to silencing the dogs.

For crying out loud, Murray defended Gerber when he couldn't stop a puck. The media picked up on that and endlessly told us "but, he's good in the room".

Murray has a one year deal. Mlakar had a one year deal.

Hang tight Jason, this nightmare will not last much longer.

Anonymous said...

This is a call to Eugene.

Your GM doesn't like your most expensive investment.

Your GM gave the guy $49M over seven years. He front loaded the deal. He gave a series of signing bonuses and a NTC.

Now he talks your investment down.

You will not get full return on that investment in this environment.

Fire your GM.

Anonymous said...

Put away the tinfoil hats people.

This is a brilliantly written blog, but let's get some facts straight:

1. Murray LIKES Spezza - he signed him to a $49 MILLION CONTRACT.

2. THERE IS NOTHING TO THIS STORY Spezza doesn't want to be traded - he just didn't have a rehearsed answer to a Carolyn Waldo question. Garrioch will print/say ANYTHING to sell papers.

3. Management doesn't listen to fans. They didn't trade Alfredsson in 06, when the same "fans" were trying to run him out of town.

4. Ottawa's decline has as much to do with MUCKLER consistently trading prospects and picks for marginal players at the trade deadline (Brooks Laich and a second for Bondra) as it has to do with Murray's mistakes. MUCKLER let Chara walk, not because the fans told him to, but because Redden was willing to give a discount.

Once again, I love the blog and I think the Sens would be crazy to move Spezza, but I think you're giving way too much credit to the amount of influence fans have.

tim said...

I want Spezza to stay, and think Murray should have his back more right now. But blogs and other forms of press are going crazy, and he has not even asked for a trade as far as anybody can tell. Murray also has suggested that he is an integral part of the team who he wants to have more say in overall strategy and that is the purpose of any meeting they will have. But many of us on these blogs are just freaking out. We need to let Spezza know that the majority want him around and think it was shitty that he was boo'd. The solution isn't to throw Murray under the bus instead. We should just chill, send some Spezza love vibes and got on with our summers.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:33-34 nailed it!

Great points! Murray needs to go!

Anonymous said...

Give the "Edmonton East" crap a rest! You're perpetuating the exact thing that you at least partially blame the media for causing - a negative attitude about the team. Fact is, Ottawa has done a great job drafting over the years, as well as a few key trades (Chara/Spezza), which has meant tough decisions had to be made on whether or not to keep guys. Chara, Havlat and likely Volchenkov won't be gone because they don't like Ottawa. It has everything to do with salary and the team's sober decisions that they weren't willing to pay what the players were asking. Can you begrudge a player for wanting the big payday? Did we really expect these guys would take a hometown discount in the prime of their careers? Of course not. We could have over-paid for Chara but decided it wasn't a sound investment.

Fact is, none of this has anything to do with Ottawa as an organization, a team or a city.
The "woe is me" attitide in the blogoshpere is getting old. This is a transitional time for the Sens and they're still faring quite well. Can't we leave it at that?

Anonymous said...

anon @ 10:53pm

I agree with Jeremy. This is becoming Edmonton East. But, it's entirely reversible. We need new management.

The current management is bush league. Mediocre. Old school.

In 2007, Volch and Phillips signed contracts for a combined $6M cap hit. They each took discounts.

Why? I'm guessing that the situation in Ottawa was so good and so fun, that guys really did not want to contemplate leaving.

Guys don't feel the same anymore. That has to do with the atmosphere that management has created.

If you think it's a transitional thing, you've drunk the Kool-Aid.

Anonymous said...

The media morons are out in full force.

A new headline in that rag that they call the National Post, reads:

"Spezza says he wants to remain a Senator … but does he?"

In other words, even if he says he wants to stay, they want the story to continue.

Good job Murray!

Keep you mouth shut next time. You're the GM. Fix this situation. Tell the media you're not trading him.

Do it tomorrow. End this. Show some character for a change.

PvR said...

There sure are a lot of us that have the solution(s).

The Tif said...

Murray needs to come out and stop this now. Back up your players. None of this wishy-washy crap.

Garrioch also needs a swift kick in the groin. Its the only way to shut him up.

Top Shelf - Ottawa Senators Blog said...

Seriously? You are writing off this franchise because they missed on playoffs in 10+ years? Seriously?

I will concede that the Sens are NOT the team that they once were but that has more to do with the fact that no other team has been forced to move their best assets due to cap-related issues. The Dany saga is not a trend. Consider the players that the Sens have lost since the cap was introduced:

Havlat, Hossa, Chara, Mez, Redden, Volchy.

Of these players Heater and Kuba are the only decent players we got back. Couple that with piss pour drafting by Muckler and you have a depleted talent pool.

It would be great if we give ourselves a collective head shake and support our players and get excited that the team has already started to climb back up the rankings with a 5th place finish and return to the playoffs after only 1yr out.

Come on people!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone ever get the feeling that this city doesn't really deserve it's franchise?

Crap location for the arena. Terrible attendance rates.
Absolutely BRUTAL local reporting which people seem to eat up. Shabby treatment of the players.

We better get our collective head out of our collective butts, because anyone who thinks that this fickle-ass city will sustain a franchise during a long rebuild is DREAMING.

I hear that they're building a nice new arena in Quebec...

Anonymous said...

Murray needs to go.

Think about the effect that his actions will have on every player in that room.

Murray leaked the details of a private conversation that he had with a player. In the future, other players will think twice before being so candid with the GM.

His actions will create an atmosphere of mistrust.

Melnyk needs to send a message abruptly. You cannot allow this type of behaviour to wreck the culture of the Ottawa Senators.

Hold Murray accountable. This is unacceptable.

Blood Red Army said...

This shit is spiralling out of control:

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Eklund/Spezza-to-Boston-for-2-overall-very-much-in-play-e4/1/28667

FUCK YOU GARRIOCH.

Anshu said...

I agree the fans who boo Spezza are misguided in the extreme. His game has improved immensely this year, and he's evolving to be the complete two-way elite player everyone wants him to be. He did take a step back in the playoffs with some mistimed turnovers, but on the whole, this has been one of his best seasons as a Senator.

However, I disagree that the Sens should have kept Chara. If we had him instead of Redden, there would have been no cup final appearance. That's because Chara sucks in the playoffs. Always has, and I suspect, always will.

I also disagree that the Sens should pay Volchenkov $5M per to keep him. He's a great player, sure, but not worth that kind of money in a salary cap league, at least for the Senators. If someone else will pay him that, and make it work under the cap for them, then great.

As for Heatley, fans weren't on his case until he demanded the trade. And while he was a goal scorer, I'll point out that he only had 2 more goals than Cheechoo in this year's playoffs. Cheechoo played for 7 minutes in one game, while Heatley averaged over 20 minutes a game for 14 games. Oh, and Heatley was minus 7 too. Lets hold off before we call him the slayer of San Jose's playoff demons...

Anonymous said...

Dany Heatley made a key play in the last Detroit game, working behind the Detroit net to spring the puck loose to get that team eliminated.

What the hell has Spezza done for US lately? ANything? At all?

He's getting paid 8 mil this year, time for him to stop being a candy ass and lead this team to the Conference Finals or beyond.

Larry

Anonymous said...

Great blog, I'm impressed. Only point of contention is Volchenkov - I don't think he's that unique, and in the way he is unique is not worth that kind of money. He's 1 dimensional with out a lot of skill. I say he goes, or not a penny above $3.75 Mill.

For god sakes please keep Spezza, he's the only skill we have. If he goes you might as well let them all go and we can stock pick draft picks for two or three years.

Anonymous said...

I hope we re-sign Volchenkov.

But, imagine being Volchenkov right now. Why on earth would he want to stay? Make more money, have lots of fun, and win in Washington, or less money, mediocrity, and lots of drama in Ottawa.

The GM creates a drama at least once a year. This year it's Spezza. The GM leaked the details of private conversations to the media.

You don't think Volch is thinking "why would I take a discount to play for this guy". On top of that, any realist can see that the team is on a downward trajectory and no one is being held accountable for it.

Why would Volch take a discount for this situation? If anything, players would ask for a premium to play in this kind of a situation.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Milks is bankrupt.

- the Ottawa sun

Anonymous said...

This just in ...


Jeremy Milks is not bankrupt.


- the Ottawa Sun

KJ said...

People need to stop using Chara as an example. He wanted to be the top dog, as in captain, and highest paid, and at the time, no way in hell Alfie was going to be dethroned, so he was not even given an offer. Muclker didn't even call him.

Yorkie confirmed that on the team1200 one afternoon.

There was a small problem named Gerber that Murray couldn't trade for trying. No idea why Muckler felt they needed to get him, when Emery deserved the #1 job.

Anyways, people should just stop speculating on this ... it feeds the general negativity.

Murray has already out drafted Muckler in his time as GM.

Ottawa was also the 1st team to really be hit by the cap issues after the lockout, since most of their 1st round draft pick players needed to get paid the big dollars.

You see what happens when teams suck for a few years, draft high, and then are suddenly good for awhile. Only in the cycle of draft picks, Pittsburgh happened to get Crosby and Malkin. Chicago got Kane and Teowes. The Flyers got Richards, and Carter.

But, this is when teams realized, S&^%, my stars are coming up for RFA, or UFA. I better sign them for 10 or 15 years so no one else can get them.

Ottawa had guys like Hossa, and Havlat who needed contracts that Ottawa couldn't afford at the time. Melnyk wasn't on board yet, IIRC.

KJ

Pierre said...

KJ,

There comes a time when a GM needs to show more for his tenure than having drafted Erik Karlsson, who is clearly an Alfie pick anyway.

It's like me being hired to run a company that was at its zenith but needing new assets and completely tearing it down, but I got this hawt admin assistant and I was born here, woohoo!

His drafting Karlsson doesn't excuse his multiple coach hirings and firings, roster getting older, trading first and second round picks for garbage, not handling the Emery situation, mishandling the Heatley one, mishandling Spezza, overpaying...it's not pretty folks.

The worst part is that Tim Murray is going to replace him, we're so boned for the next 20 years. :(

Anonymous said...

Great comments, Pierre.

I wish that the local media would pick up on this. Thanks for doing their job for them.

pg said...

Great piece, although I do disagree with spezz being a top 3 playmaker in the league crosby, malkin, backstrom thornton sedin just off the top of my head. The point is well taken.

I don't know how he became teflon BM, but sooner or later, someone's going to have to pay the piper. It's his ship. He's the one that f---ed it up. Yes he SEEMS to have drafted well, but really, how many of his picks are playing regular minutes? How many are gauranteed to play in the NHL as regulars?

Pierre said...

The Spezza rally had 20 people show up.

On the one hand, good on them for being dedicated to their team and guy.

On the other hand, ouch at the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Pierre,

It's true that the numbers were low. But, to be fair, when I looked out at my window Saturday afternoon, it wasn't just raining, it was a downpour.

I understand that the skies cleared up just before the rally. But still, I can imagine that many decided against going when it was still raining.

I'd bet that the numbers would have been greater if the weather was better.

More significantly, how many players in the league have rallys organized for them? I think that there were over 1000 people in that Facebook group. Quite an accomplishment in my books.

I cannot ever remember a time when fans organized to stop a player from being traded.

Spezza is the first Ottawa player that has ever inspired the fans to act in this way. The media should look at the event in that context.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or am I the only one who thnks Bryan Murray is a total jerk. He talks baout mutual commitment when Spezza signed the contract, but has never once stuck up for Jason. Sorry, I forgot, Jason's not from the Ottawa Valley, so in Murray's eyes, he is spare parts

Anonymous said...

Very well wrtten article. I disagree that Chara wanted out of Ottawa but anyways, I don't blame Spezz at all for wanting out,the media and fans (not all fans) have demonized him for most of his career. He deserves better and these ridiculously negative fans deserve to see how succesful he's gonna be on another team in a few years time. I would also LOVE to see Volchenkov in an Ottawa uniform next year but not if it means overpaying, which it almost certainly would. Finnaly I do agree that Ottawa is becoming Edmonton east and that really sucks because Ottawa has always been a coveted place to play for players. I really hope we can reverse this trend or we may soon find ourselves as crappy as that other Ontario team.