First, a disclaimer. The following statement is by no means meant to be construed as the opinion of either The 6th Sens or a certain Mister Graeme Nichols, 6th Sens founder and gentleman scholar who goes to great pains to present fair, cogent arguments on myriad issues, free of rancour and ad hominid attacks while respecting contradictory views even if he does not agree with them. It's all very commendable. But because I am a horrible human being, I hold myself to no such grand social convention. Got that? Excellent. So let us move on to the gist of my argument, shall we?
Jeffrey Simpson is a pompous front running twat addled gasbag.
My main objection to Simpson's letter (and subsequent radio gabfest) isn't so much the petulant threat of taking his wallet and going home. As a season ticket holder, that is well within his rights to do and his argument that Leaf Nation's refusal to do the same has in no small way contributed to their delightful state of suck dating back to the days when Margaret Trudeau was bedding the Rolling Stones has merit. Thankfully for the rest of us, their failure to realize this just means we can go on pointing and laughing, even as our own little worlds crumble around us. "Well", we say to ourselves, comfortable in our Giant Cloak of Smug "at least we'll never be that bad".
The seemingly arbitrary "deadline" for Cyril Leader to accede to his wishes isn't that big a deal either, as stupid as it looks at first glance. Not being privy to the rarefied air populated by the season ticket holding hoi polloi, I can only assume that the 1st of May is the due date imposed by the Club for deposits on renewals for next season. It's the only explanation that makes any sense. After all, a self described hockey nut such as our boy Jeff-Fa-Fa would know that between the trade deadline and the draft (let alone during the NHL playoffs) an NHL team can do very little in the way of personnel changes, wouldn't he? Of course he would. And if not, then Simpson's "May 1st" drop dead date is quite simply the arbitrary brayings of a hockey moron, isn't it? Of course it is. Then again, maybe he's just a communist.
Nor am I all that hung up with his choice of medium, as some of you seem to be. Sure, signing his letter "National Affairs Columnist" rather than "Joe Hockey Fan", printing it on Grope and Flail letterhead before forwarding it to all of his media buddies to ensure maximum exposure screams of a hubristic sense of self importance out of all proportion to reality. The only thing that confirms is the fact that he's either an unapologetic attention whore or someone without a shred of self-awareness. And I have the sneaking suspicion that his overlords at CTVglobmedia, owners of the Globe and whose spiffy logo adorns the bottom of the page, will vigorously attempt to cure our friend Jeffrey of this mortal sin by gently reminding him that they also own SportsNet TSN, home of the vast majority of a few Senators' broadcasts, and that pissing off the fan base that fuels their viewership is very much not a welcome addition to their business plan isn't that big a deal because they're all closet Leafers anyway.
No, my main objection to Simpson's screed is that it offers absolutely nothing new. Other than the galactically stupid suggestion Pierre McGuire should be the next GM (something not all that novel in and of itself and a position from which he retreated a tad in his CFRA follow-up, I notice) it's simply the same reheated and tired arguments Sens fans have been having since the team shit the bed coming out of the gate back in October. In fact, it's worse than that. It's one of the very reasons the team is in this mess to begin with, to wit: "Fix it now, or lose me forever". Nothing more, nothing less, no matter how much faux gravitas the "status" of the messenger may impart.
Like most fans (and media...Don...) now calling for The Bryan's head, Simpson is trapped in the lingering hangover from the Cup Final, something I like to think of as the "three years ago" disease. "Three years ago" the Ottawa Senators were the class of the East. "Three years ago" this team was one Chris Pronger Flying Elbow of Death and a Chris Philips own goal from winning it all. "Three years ago" The Bryan locked up the core of that Finals team to long term contracts. And "three years ago" this team started its death spiral into the bowels of the standings, to the point where all we have to look forward to a scant "three years" later is a better than even shot at a lottery pick (Go New Jersey!). Ergo, it's all The Bryan's fault. No allowance made for Muckler's decimation of the farm system to get to that Final. No allowance made for the barrels over which Joe Corvo and Dany Heatley put the organization. No mention of the faint glimmer of hope now playing in Bingo or the SEL, a faint glimmer provided, I should add, by the very man now being excoriated by our hero Jeff as an incompetent ass.
Don't get me wrong. The Bryan is far from blameless in this mess. The annual rentals-for-picks trades at the deadline and then not re-signing those rentals (Mike Comrie and Matt Cullen...come on down!). The utterly baffling one-way contract to Brian Lee (Muckler's last first round pick, it should be noted). The spectacular failure of his faith in supposedly skilled yet inexcusably soft defencemen. Alex Kovalev. All of that can be laid squarely at the feet of The Little Guy From Shawville, and to a lesser extent at those of the guy writing the cheques in his Barbadian paradise. And all of it symptoms of the same disease. The "three years ago" disease.
A proper rebuild is going to take three to five years, an admission The Euge himself has already made. He, at least, seems to have finally shaken off the "three years ago" bug and come to grips with the fact that simply tweaking or plugging holes isn't going to get it done. The Bryan has been a little slower to embrace the idea, but embrace it he will. He's too smart a hockey guy not to. And if the next twelve to fifteen months proves otherwise, then so be it. There will be lots of people not named Pierre McGuire available to take the helm.
Simpson has made it clear that he does not, and will not back a team that considers simply making the playoffs the ultimate sign of success; that only one that aspires to the immortality only a Cup win can bring will merit his august attentions. As a meaningless motherhood statement, it's spectacular. As the working philosophy of a real fan, it sucks moose cock. There are many shades of gray between those two states of being and the fact that Simpson fails to make the distinction is what I object to most of all.
So Jeff, not worry buddy. Five years from now, when the Sens are once again contenders, we'll save you a seat on the bandwagon. Maybe. It depends on whether Cyril Leader lets you have your season tickets back.
I wonder how many season ticket holders will be inspired by Mr. Simpson's embarrassing letter to hold on to their season tickets after all.
@SensiBill It'd definitely be intriguing to know how many season ticket holders have voiced similar concerns to the Senators org.
"CTVglobmedia, owners of the Globe and whose spiffy logo adorns the bottom of the page, will vigorously attempt to cure our friend Jeffrey of this mortal sin by gently reminding him that they also own SportsNet"
Rogers owns Sportsnet. CTVglobemedia owns TSN.
This Simpson thing is unfortunate, because as much as douchey as this letter comes across, he is saying what alot of our season ticket fan base is thinking. We have a season-ticket fan base that is primarily made up of public servants who are incapable of having fun or showing emotion for fear of a fellow public servant seeing them display emotion in public. I am not a season ticket holder, but have felt the wrath of season ticket holders who have felt I have been to exuberant in "their" section. No lie, my wife was at a game and a person asked her to keep it down because he spent alot of money on his seats! This same gentleman was drinking a coffee, constantly yelling "SHOOOOOOOT!" no matter what the circumstance, and hit the road with 8 minutes left. Until the real Sens fans (the ones who typically may not be able to afford season tickets on their own but cheer the Sens with one to nine pints per game regardless of day of week or score) get together and start splitting on season ticket packages to crank the volume in the Bank, we are stuck with J. Simpson and all his faceless, non-cheering, early leaving, coffee drinking brethren representing us all.
6th sens -- start a fund to buy a one page ad in the Sun, allowing fans like me -- the loud, drunk and obnoxious -- to support our team in a public forum, because there is no way a letter I write is ever going to get this sort of coverage.
"6th sens -- start a fund to buy a one page ad in the Sun, allowing fans like me -- the loud, drunk and obnoxious -- to support our team in a public forum, because there is no way a letter I write is ever going to get this sort of coverage."
If you or any other readers have something that they want to say, just email it to the website's email address and if it's good, we'll publish it and credit your work.
An absolutely hilarious picture of Phil Kessel from the All-Star Game Fantasy Draft.
The NHL takes a lot of tickets for sponsors and the like for the All-Star game. So say 10,000 STH (which I hope to many are not those bloody drunken arrogant annoying Leaf fans).
Doesn't leave a lot for the general public.
If they are any left I assume they would have a lottery for the tickets.. similar to the WJC that Calgary/Edmonton did. I received an e-mail from NHL.com today for me to sign-up for a chance to buy tickets to the 2012 ASG. If the tickets have not gone on sale yet.. how did you get them. Obviously it's the someone who knows someone.
Nichols.... How did the letter go public? It certainly wasn't Cyril Leeder. I assume it was Mr. Simpson showing it around and either he or his co-workers published it.
So he does not like the Murray regime. Well I guess that explains everything. I would hate to think what this franchise would look like now if Muckler had of stayed in charge for 3 more years. No team... no prospects.. it would be worse than it is now.. What would Mr. Simpson think of it then.
@Sandysensfan I don't want to put words in Simpson's mouth but I think he speaks for the group of fans that thinks they've seen a large enough sample size of Murray's work that goes beyond his drafts. They want a fresh face. I don't think (at least I hope) that he is not a Muckler proponent.
The letter came from "sources".
Regarding the letter, I just have a few things to say:
1) Regarding the use of The Globe and Mail letterhead: I don't think Jeffrey ever anticipated that the letter would be published in its original form for the public to see.
2) This isn't the first time that Simpson has shit on the direction of this organization since Murray took over. He's not threatening to hop off of the bandwagon because the team is losing, he's doing it because of his disdain for the Murray regime. http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081124.wspt_sens24/GSStory/GlobeSportsHockey/home
It is beyond shitty that this franchise's first core could not get it done. I (and every Sens fan out there, to be sure) feel like that poor sap at the prom who, after countless boner-in-sweatpants years followed by the inevitable clusterfuck of stretch limos, frilly corsages, and a four pack of Vexx, had to watch as the prospect of some post-prom fireworks imploded in a spectacular display of teenage projectile vomiting (I'm looking at you, NHL lockout; and you, Dominik Hasek's adductor muscle). We deserved the cup with the old guard - we deserved it good and hard.
Unfortunately, what is done is done. Our time in the sun has passed, and it is time to look forward. A rebuild is necessary and, I think, will get us to the promised land by the middle if this fine decade.
What I worry about here is not the rebuild.
I worry about the commitment of many of my Sens-fan bretheren. Sure, all of you fine bloggers and blog-ees seem upstanding enough, and I fully expect realistic expectations from you. What of the other cohort of Sens fans, though? Will they be able to temper their expectations and put up with a few years of bottom of the standing finishes? Can they resist the the urge to pick up the pitchforks and run the next coach/GM out of town? I worry because of the toxic nature of the Ottawa sports media. Shitting on a team like our current one is fine - overpaid, lazy veterans; inexcusable defensive zone breakdowns; glass goaltenders; etc. But I can envision the trou-dropping that will be unleashed on our future young core, and it makes me uneasy.
Also, I am of like opinion that Brian Murray's real legacy will not be the current team, but the powerhouse defence-corps we will have for the next decade and a half.
@CharlesC @SLC I too worry about how the fans will treat the fresh meat. Alexandre Daigle. Rookie Season 18 Years old: 20G 31A 51PTS. And that wasn't good enough.But even more than the fans, I worry about the atmosphere that the younger guys are coming into. There is no winning tradition. There are no strong leaders to set good examples. There is nobody that can stand up and say this is what it takes to win a cup. The Florida Panthers have been to a cup final for shat sakes.
There are the Buffalos, Canucks, Blues, Jets/Coyotes, Kings, and Capitals that have all been where we stand today and they are still searching for the giant champagne glass. I'm fine with looking at the Marshall, Muckler, and Murray era in the rear view mirror knowing that the road ahead is a bit bumpy because at least we're heading somewhere new and not just spinning the same '2007 Goodyear' tires.
@SLC Ah now, you quote out of context:
"countless boner-in-sweatpants years"
I refer, of course, to those magical days of junior high, where those rural road bumps made the bus rides to school excruciating. '92 to '97 were those years, as I believe 2011 - 2014ish will be again.
I hope you are right though - I just worry about the casual used-to-cheering-for-a-winning-team fan taking a gander at the standings and jumping ship. That at the Ottawa Sun can not seem to bring itself to write anything positive.
@CharlesC I have a little more faith in Sens Army than you seem to, Charles. As long as there is, in fact, "a plan" and we can see it...we'll stick around. If '92 to '97 taught us anything it's that this too shall pass.
On a more important note...you went to your prom is sweat pants??
"guess Mr. Simpson does not want to go to the 2012 All-Star Game next year. You have to be a full or half-season ticket holder to get into Skills & the Game."
I don't have seasons and I and two friends will be at all those events. This is the Senators, you can get tickets for stuff...tthere are only 10,000 or so season ticket holders...I'd wager 2,000 -3,000 of those are Habs or Leafs fans who buy a package to see their team. Ottawans being notoriously cheap, I'd imagine they sell an extra 2,000 or so to season holders, leaving 2,000+ available to the public. The Team 1200 will give about 100 of them away as well. Hey, I got free tickets to game 3 against Pens last year so...
As for SLC, I'd be a lot more willing to give Murray his due if there hadn't been non-stop drama around the team's best players the past few years and if he'd be willing to take his share of the blame. As there has and he hasn't, the time has come for a new voice. Maybe losing a few hundred season tickets is what Leeder needs to realize the level of disenchantment within the fanbase.
@Steve_HL "I'd be a lot more willing to give Murray his due if there hadn't been non-stop drama around the team's best players the past few years and if he'd be willing to take his share of the blame. As there has and he hasn't, the time has come for a new voice. Maybe losing a few hundred season tickets is what Leeder needs to realize the level of disenchantment within the fanbase."
I think a lot of fans feel this way.
@Steve_HL Pretty sure The Euge, Cyrill and Murray are fully aware of our disenchantment. Hence the sea change in philosophy over the last two weeks. If I can put on my tinfoil hat for a minute, it took The Emperor's admission that the Plug-and-Play model of franchise building wasn't working before the word "rebuild" became the new mantra. Maybe Eugene heeded to give the all clear? Just sayin'...
<3 SLCI was getting mighty tired of the whole "Brian Murray is to blame for all of life's problems" mantra that has been echoing around the Sens Army for the last 4 months. I completely agree about him really pooching some of his acquisitions/subsequent non-signings (Matt Cullen was an amazing fit on the team) but at the same time I get the impression that 5 years from now we'll all be singing praises of the work he did restocking the organization.
Glad to see I'm not the only one thinking that Murray deserves at least a bit of slack. Great article as always.
@SLC Perfect! Our whole team is a third line (minus monsieurs Spezza, Alfie and Michalek). All we need now is to unload some baggage and buy ourselves a top line. Stanley Cup, here we come!
@cdave Excellent point, but that was brought about by the salary cap. And seeing as how that's worked out for the Hawks so I'm not sure that's the way to go either.
I've always maintained that, in a salary capped world, the team that can squeeze the most out their third line while spending the least amount of money is the team most likely to succeed. It's SCIENCE!
@SLC I also can't help but notice that Burke, too, spent a whole lot of his time desperately trying to cling to the 06-07 roster with a whole pile of contract extensions. Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks that blow the team up after a cup, minus a select core of people, seem to be the exception to the rule.
@cdave Burke made his entire career as a GM riding The Bryan's coat tails. Too many people tend to forget that.
Sorry from previous post.. meant employee of financial institutuion. It's hard trying to type and watch the all-star game at same time.
I'm also a season ticket holder who definitely will be renewing my tickets next season. I'm with my team win or lose. I don't quit on them when they go through bad times.
I guess Mr. Simpson does not want to go to the 2012 All-Star Game next year. You have to be a full or half-season ticket holder to get into Skills & the Game. Too bad for him. Fans like him I can certainly do without.
Mister Nichols... right on!!!
This guy is a jerk but he is entitled to his opinion. I would assume his thinking was -- sending a personal letter to the Senators on his company letterhead.. making sure he put in his job title -- would have some clout with his demand. I wonder how the Globe & Mail feels having their name linked to such a request.
As a former employer of a financial institution.. if I had sent a letter like that on my company letterhead requesting the firing of an employee I would be the one getting fired.
He is so filled with his Murray hate.. that he will not even consider looking at previous management and the role they played in the Sens current state. (Their actions have played a major role in why the Sens are where they are right now).
Murray has made mistakes... he is not blameless in this.
If there is a new GM I would assume he comes from outside the organization.. and asst GM somewhere else. They will not be brought in until season's end.. or the other team is out of the playoffs. Paul Fenton is Nasville comes to mind.. but he may not be available.
@Sandysensfan Not to worry, Sandy. People get Graeme and I confused all the time. It's obviously our shared svelte, adonis like figures.