Within the last 24-hours, I've learned a number of valuable lessons:
- When Brad May gets hold of an Ian White rumour and the originating source is HB, odds are, it's going to be false.
- A bottle of Scotch should augment a nice evening, not a car ride.
- When Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) tweets Chris Phillips declared today and he wants to stay and help the rebuild, we shouldn't just openly assume Chris has inidicated to Bryan Murray that he's unwilling to waive his No-Trade Clause.
- If you ask for information regarding a subject on Twitter, some follower is going to be able to help you out. Thanks to @Wham_City for this link regarding the best eligible prospects for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
- After a season that saw him put up career offensive highs (12 goals, 14 assists),Jarkko Ruutu was dealt to the Anaheim Ducks for a 6th round pick. It's the perfect example of the organization failing to capitalize on the value of an asset when it was at its highest. With a number of third and fourth line prospects who were on the cusp of making playing for the big club, Ruutu should have been moved during the summer and been replaced by a guy like Zach Smith. (Note: The Senators have called up Francis Lessard from Binghamton for the next two games.) The lesson: sell high.
It might be a bit of an embellishment to say that the Garrioch tweet created a bit of a shitstorm, but at the very least it did get people talking about whether the the Senators new direction would best be served if Phillips were no longer a part of the team's plans.
Over at the always well crafted Black Aces blog, Jeremy Milks championed the notion that keeping Phillips around is in the best interests of the organization. Being the opportunist that I am and that I casually mentioned on Twitter that Phillips could leave and help the rebuild, I figure I'm the perfect person to play Devil's advocate here. Below is an extract from Jeremy's post. His work is italicized, mine is in bold.
If this scenario were to happen, it should be remembered that Phillips bargained for his no-trade clause in his contract and got it fair and square. If he doesn't want to move his family from a city he obviously loves to play in, how can anyone begrudge him that? What the fans want is completely irrelevant. This is his job and he is allowed to exert a certain amount of control over his destination. Knowing Bryan Murray, he will certainly respect the decision of Phillips either way and try to do the best for him and his family.
If Phillips doesn't want to move his family, or has a wife who is calling the shots, or would prefer to have a longer offseason so that he can spend time with his ailing father, so be it. He has that NTC and has the right to exercise it. However, at some point, Phillips needs to read the writing on the wall. If you look at Ottawa's blueline picture next season, it's already looking congested. Veteran defencemen like Filip Kuba, Sergei Gonchar, Matt Carkner, Chris Campoli, Erik Karlsson and Brian Lee are all under team control and Murray has already indicated that prospects like David Rundblad and Jared Cowen will be on the team.
And to emphasize this point further, when your general manager is reportedly asking for a first round pick in exchange for you and says things like, “I think he wants to stay in Ottawa. I’m not quite sure how that will work,” , the odds of you being part of the plan moving forward are slim.
The very fact that he wants to stay in Ottawa should prove that he's a player the Senators should keep in town, and not pawn off for a draft pick that likely won't pan out anyways.
It doesn't prove anything. For all we know, it's lip service and good PR. Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly said the same thing when they left town and it's not like Phillips would ever publically acknowledge that he wants to leave town.
Given the opportunity, I think most fans would embrace seeing a regressing defenceman traded for a 1st or 2nd rounder so that they can continue to stockpile picks and prospects. Especially if you take into account that Phillips has the worst goals versus threshold (GVT) amongst the team's skaters, the reasoning for keeping him has to go beyond some discussion of his intangibles or desire to remain in Ottawa. The only thing that should prove whether or not Phillips is a player worth keeping is his willingness to accept a cost-effective contract extension. Or better yet, maybe he's willing to pull a Keith Tkachuk - get dealt for picks/prospects - and return to the organization via free agency.
The fans may be riding the temporary sugar rush of big name trades, but when that high dissipates, they may find a team almost completely barren of tried and true NHL players.
A youth movement is a great thing, and probably a necessary strategy for this team going forward, but you also can't send out six rookies on defense and expect to win any hockey games.
If this season has taught us anything, it's that a veteran laden blueline (or roster for that matter) doesn't guarantee you success either.
Who better to show Jared Cowen the ropes than Chris Phillips? You think the Senators want Cowen learning his game from Filip Kuba?
Does anyone actually believe that the presence of Kuba will have some kind of negative causal effect that sees Cowen take on many of Kuba's on-ice traits or characteristics? If not, then what does it matter if understands what it takes to be a professional NHL defenceman from former All-Stars like Kuba and Gonchar, Matt Carkner or the assistant coach Luke Richardson?
The fact that Bryan Murray is even considering moving Phillips indicates that there's a chance.
Phillips, at only 32 years of age, has a lot of good years left in him and if Senators fans are lucky enough, he'll still be here next season when they will need his experience and leadership more than ever.
Or maybe if we're really lucky, people around this city will stop overstating the value of leadership and intangibles.