In the wake of another playoff loss that saw a 102-point Senators team lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the fourth straight time, fans and the organization were reeling. After being outcoached by Pat Quinn and stubbornly refusing to adjust his in-game strategies, there was no doubt that Jacques Martin would be shown the door. Shortly thereafter, Patrick Lalime relocated his talent and defecated mattress to the fine streets of Missourri. When Gary Bettman announced in the 2004 summer that there was going to be a labour stoppage, we knew that there would be silver lining of free agency. Instead, fans were forced to sit through the NHL's labour stoppage and wallow in self pity.
"Michigan is the worst. For hockey people, if you've got a choice between a kid-all things being equal-one's going to Michigan and one's going to Boston University, you all want your player (going to Boston University). Michigan's players-(head coach) Red (Berenson) doesn't coach. It's ‘do what you want.' He gets the best players in the country."
"At times, he was playing forward at Michigan. You had no idea what position he was playing. But he had always been the star and he always got his numbers. Then he turns pro and for the first time, we're telling him ‘whoa, just make the first pass and learn to play in your own end.' How about making a read in your own end about the right guy to pick up? He was awful." ~ Dean Lombardi, Hockeytalk.biz
After reading the Los Angeles Kings' GM, Dean Lombardi describe Jack Johnson's early development it got me thinking about Brian Lee since the parallels between the two are so evident. Both came to the NHL with highy touted reputations for being offensive minded defencemen who could skate very well and to this point, both have failed to live up to lofty expectations. The more I reflect on Lombardi's comments, the more I find myself saying things like when's last time the NCAA really has developed a proven stud defenceman?
Is it fair to question whether playing less games in the NCAA against lesser talent was at least partially responsible for this hindered development or should the onus of blame be out on the professional organization?
And then I started thinking more about the extremes in this situation like why the hell is Brian Lee still with this organization? Or my favorite, at this point, what could we get for Lee?
Free Lee for chrissakes!
Speaking of making moves, Bruce Garrioch, the man responsible for 94-percent of trade rumo(u)rs emanating from north of the border says that the Senators will be buyers before the March 3 NHL trade deadline, just don’t expect them to be involved in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes.
According to Bruce, they're looking at adding a forward to supplement the roster. If this is true, the Senators are going to have to move a salary off of the books to accomodate any addition since the team only has $500-600k in cap space. Of course, the easiest way to create some roster flexibility would be to bury Jonathan Cheechoo's salary in the minors but whether ownership would want to bite the bullet on his contract is another issue.
Bruce also revealed the latest news on Anton Volchenkov's contract negotiations,
The Senators haven’t opened contract talks with D Anton Volchenkov. He will be a UFA on July 1, but there have been no contract discussions between GM Bryan Murray and Volchenkov’s agent, Jay Grossman. The Senators have to decide what they’re willing to pay Volchenkov, who took a hometown discount when he signed a three-year extension with Ottawa worth $7.5 million US in 2007.
Now maybe I'm reading too much into Garrioch's last sentence in the aforementioned paragraph but it did sound like he was questioning whether Anton would sign another contract for below market value.
As the Senators move forward towards the deadline, the situation reminds me somewhat of the situation that the Buffalo Sabres encountered with Jay McKee in 2006. With the team on a roll and finishing with 110 points, Darcy Regier felt that he couldn't afford to move the unrestricted, and in the prime of his career, McKee. Instead, the team bowed out in the playoffs and subsequently lost out on McKee's services when the St. Louis Blues tendered him an offer of $16M for four years.
The lesson here is that after three injury riddled years, the Blues bought out McKee. Think of an injury to Volchenkov like a Rob Ray versus Dennis Vial tilt. Sure, it wasn't guaranteed that both men would get half naked during a fight but the odds were certainly in their favour.
Hopefully non-Lee like NCAA Prospects
Lee Delaporte from Hockey's Future has authored a piece that tracks the performances of the NCAA prospects that Ottawa has in the system. My apologies if you're a fan, family member or friend of either of Eric Gryba or Michael Sdao as you won't find either player mentioned in the report.
Video of the Day
It's not hockey related but whatever. It's too good not to pass along. Enjoy this fan's reaction to the Brett Favre interception in last night's Saints vs Vikings game.