The Hockey News' Ryan Dixon has penned an article detailing the Ottawa Senators' situation. For the purposes of this website, I've posted the original column below and my thoughts will be in bold.
It’s easy to dump on a team that has lost five straight games – by a combined score of 22-5, no less – as the Ottawa Senators have entering Thursday night’s tilt versus the New York Rangers.
No kidding. Things have been so bad, fans are clinging to the hope that Mike Brodeur's feel good story in the same way that I used to cling to the hope that Evgeni Davydov and Scott Levins would someday prove to be a decent return for Bob Kudelski. (Ed. note: I learned my lesson at a young age that trades never would out for the better. I was exceptionally young when Kudelski, who at the time was on pace for 50 goals in the 1993-94 season was dealt at the All-Star break to Florida. To make matters worse, the trade couldn't have occurred after the All-Star Game. Fans had to endure watching Kudelski play wearing a Panthers uniform. It was my first kick in the nuts as a Senators fan. Looking back, I'm convinced that Mark Gandler negotiated a Alexei Yashin has to be the highest scoring player on the team clause in the rookie's contract. It's the only explanation here.)
But taking shots at the Sens is more of a fish-in-a-barrel exercise because their captain and best player is crowding 40, the team can’t get a save from any of its goalies, their No. 1 defense pair would be fantastic if they were your No. 2 set, their big, talented No. 1 center just can’t seem to fully get it and they’re the most recent team to employ Alex Kovalev.
Your 2009-10 Ottawa Senators!!!! What else can be said other than ouch? If you needed a reason why the Senators fanbase psyche is softer than a Filip Kuba check, Ryan Dixon just laid it out in the aforementioned paragraph. The sad thing is that the bulk of what he says is true. Sure, that part about Kovalev is overkill and there's still time for Spezza to develop into a player who can learn defence, make the players around him better and affect games when he's not putting up points. But hey, at least Mr. Dixon didn't mention that Antoine Vermette currently has more points than anyone on the Senators roster.
I think I need a prorogation to catch my breath.
Okay, this is where it gets confusing for me. I thought that shitting on the Ottawa Senators was a fish-in-a-barrel exercise? Now Dixon wants a rest after spending 90 seconds Googling and rehashing Ottawa's problems using 70 words? Christ, even Wade Redden works harder than this. Stick to Twitter's 140 characters man.
Right now, Ottawa is lumped in with a whole mess of bland teams battling it out for seeds five through eight in the Eastern Conference and I’m sure they’re fully capable of nabbing one of those spots. Daniel Alfredsson is expected back from a shoulder injury soon, Mike Fisher is going to break this 14-game goalless drought at some point and, well, the other teams in the hunt aren’t exactly the ’87 Oilers.
Ryan's article was dated on Thursday, January 14th. Prior to Ottawa's game against the Canadiens. He shouldn't be a writer / copy editor for THN, he should have his own psychic hotline.
Maybe it’s just my line of thinking here, but I don’t believe the way to distinguish yourself from the ordinary is by trying to squeak into the playoffs in order to play the role of sacrificial lamb to an actual good team.
No argument here. Getting knocked out of the first round of the playoffs won't do anything for me as a fan.
If you’re truly interested in emerging from the pack, hold a mirror up to your organization, ask yourself if you’ve got the horses to be really, really good any time soon, then make bold moves accordingly.
If someone told me at the beginning of the year that Matt Carkner and Mike Brodeur would have significant roles by mid-January for a playoff bound Senators team, I would have put in a call to the NHL and told them to start engraving Cory Clouston's Jack Adams Trophy.
The Ottawa Senators played most of the last decade as a team that could legitimately go to bed believing it had a chance to win it all. It didn’t happen, as we all know, and since failing in the 2007 final, they’ve been on a constant slide to Mudville, otherwise known as the realm of mediocrity.
Mudville? Weak. Where's the hockey connotation? If one's going to rip on mediocrity and reference Ottawa, mention Vanier or something. Jeez.
Ottawa has a great captain in Alfredsson, but he’s 37 years old and the chances this team can rebuild its blueline and solve its goaltending situation over a timeframe where he’s still a great player is very, very slim.
At least Ryan didn't criticize Erik Karlsson's Taylor Swift-like frame for also being very, very slim. I'll touch on the state of the blueline later in this article, but as well as Mike Brodeur is playing, it's still way too early to write off Pascal Leclaire.
The Sens originally became an annual threat by building up from the ground and it’s time for this franchise to get back to earth. This team is nowhere near good enough to win it all now or any time soon. And gauging success by anything less than that standard is a waste of everybody’s time, unless you’re absolutely desperate for the revenues produced by a couple home playoff dates each spring.
Ottawa could fetch a mess of picks and prospects for guys like Alfredsson and battle-tested warrior Chris Phillips. And hey, kick the tires on Jason Spezza (currently out of the lineup with a knee injury), because as much as he doesn’t fit the bill of a franchise-defining center and captain, another team could identify his terrific skill as a wonderful accessory to the talent and leadership it already posses.
By suggesting that Ottawa trade Alfie, Dixon shows how out of touch he is with the situation and fans here. It'd be management's way of giving the middle finger to Sens fans. Besides, the aforementioned trade scenario is about as plausible as trading a first round pick for Chris Campoli and an unrestricted and banged up Mike Comrie since these respective players are protected by no-trade clauses. Also, the assumption that it'd be easy to get picks and prospects for a player like Spezza is a bit naive. With his cap hit, Ottawa would either have to absorb some kind of salary dump to offset his cost or find a team well below the cap ceiling to make a move. Not easy stuff. Instead of moving these pieces, it'd be easier for the team to look at moving guys like Kelly, Shannon and Volchenkov without jeopardizing too much of the short term success. (Ed. note: I'm assuming that moving Volchenkov would fetch a nice return.)
Last year, when The Hockey News ranked every teams’ prospects in our annual Future Watch edition, Ottawa finished right smack in the middle, 15th of 30 teams
Which in the bigger scheme of things means sweet fuck all but go on...
There’s that mediocrity again.
This is the part where Dixon neglected to mention that the team jumped half of the League to get into the middle of the prospect rankings in order to substantiate his argument.
Moving some capable bodies out while they’re still in demand would do wonders to re-stock the shelves and jump-start a rebuild that could eventually allow this team to regain its status as a league power.
Starting anew is always a painful process, but it’s tempered by the optimism and excitement of actually working toward something, rather than clinging to what once was as it slowly withers away.
Sure, there's not really a difference making prospect that fans can gravitate to but it's wrong to ignore the fact there is a process that is sort of underway. The back end with Lehner, Cowen, Karlsson and Wiercioch appears to be in decent shape moving forward and there are a few pieces like Petersson and Silfverberg who look like they could be players. The problem doesn't appear to be the quality or quantity, it's the fact that none of the aforementioned pieces are likely to have significant impacts for two to four years.
A fresh start would do wonders for the Sens; the same can’t be said for a playoff berth this spring.