In his most recent article for The Hockey News, Adam Proteau posed a question or two that each of the NHL’s 30 organizations will have to answer during the 2011-12 campaign.
Some questions are fair. Some are crafted with the intent to spur laughter. Others, like the one directed to the Ottawa Senators, is emblematic of the Toronto media’s fascination with Daniel Alfredsson’s future in a Senators jersey.
Can the rebuilding Sens really expect to challenge for a playoff spot with a second line that would be stellar if it were in the American League? If not, can Daniel Alfredsson maintain his always-classy veneer or instead look to be moved late in the year for a Ray Bourque-like shot at a championship?
Umm... seriously? Playoffs!??! Trading Alfie? For reals?
Not to begrudge Proteau, but anyone who has a thumb on the pulse of the Senators knows that: a) management and ownership have reiterated that the captain will not be traded; and b) this team seems prepared to give a number of players who struggled last season every opportunity to develop into marketable assets.
It’s somewhat of a unique opportunity that Ottawa has. Unlike the situations in Florida, Calgary or Columbus, the organization is not concerned with generating fan interest in a non-traditional hockey market. Nor is it interested in some feigned attempt to push for the 8th overall playoff seed. Nor is the job security of its hockey ops people influencing its player personnel decisions. Head coach Paul MacLean was brought in from the vaunted Detroit Red Wings and general manager Bryan Murray signed a 3-year contract extension in April. With Eugene Melnyk having bought into the philosophy of “rebuilding the right way”, Ottawa can afford to give players like Nikita Filatov and Peter Regin extended opportunities without having to worry too much about how it may affect the win column in the interim.
I assumed that this was common sensaren’te but judging from another one of Proteau’s offseason articles entitled, “The NHL’s Five Least Improved Teams”, I’m hopeful that other Senators fans won't echo Adam’s sentiment...
Speaking of total disasters, have you seen what currently projects to be Ottawa’s second forward line? Its 2011 first round draft pick Mika Zibanejad centering Nick Foligno and Bobby Butler. I’m surprised schlock movie director Michael Bay isn’t lobbying to film that trio.
Then there’s the Senators’ defense, which is comprised of two slightly mobile turnstiles (Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba), a 21-year-old up-and-comer in Erik Karlsson, and a depreciating asset named Chris Phillips.
Given that information, it is nothing short of baffling to think of what GM Bryan Murray did this summer. He signed Zenon Konopka to toughen up Ottawa’s fourth line when the team already had a tough guy in Chris Neil. And he signed Alex Auld to back up Craig Anderson in net. This is akin to someone who is burdened with a Jimmy Durante schnozz opting for laser eye surgery and a pedicure. See you at the draft lottery, Sens fans.
In watching yesterday’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and then the Toronto Blue Jays game that followed last night, Rogers’ play-by-play man Buck Martinez alluded to an interesting Pat Gillick anecdote about how to build championship teams. To win championships, you need great players.
Its premise is so simple but it’s a concept that is so often lost.
In the NHL, how does one acquire great players?
Are they found on July 1st when the NHL free agency period opens?
No. (Shhhh! Don't tell the Rangers!)
Are they acquired via trade?
Great talent is drafted and therein lies the duality of Ottawa’s situation. They get criticized for eschewing a shitty free agent market; preferring instead to favour internal player development and give themselves better odds of drafting a high-impact player in next year’s NHL Entry Draft. And it’s this kind of big picture, savvy asset management philosophy that should be applauded. Not criticized.
Did anyone else notice that every game the Sens play the Leafs next season is the 2nd game in a back-to-back situation.
I guess the league wants to give the Leafs a good chance to win those divisional games.
Forget any hockey writer based in Toronto getting it. Toronto hockey writers consider a run for the cup the same way virgin teenage boys consider an active sex life.
I was pretty annoyed when I first read his questions for the Sens, but then I noticed the whole article was an excuse to crap on most teams disguised as "questions". I have noticed his writing in general has taken a more pessimistic approach than it used to. I'm not sure if this is a directive from higher up or he is just becoming more bitter. It's a shame because I normally like his stuff, but his recent work seems to make the assumptions that a) every team has the same goal next year, and b) every team should have had the same game plan this summer.
Sandysensfan kind of hit on the head. Being immersed in the TO media kind of skews ones perception. Proteau doesn't seem to be able to reconcile the fact that just because Ottawa's rebuild looks different than the Leafs doesn't mean it's being done wrong. Unlike TO, who basically forced out their swedish captain, Ottawa and it's fans value Alfie and see more value in him retiring as a "career" Sen, versus acquiring a late 1st round pick for him. Alfie has said he does not want to be traded and Ownership/Management have said that they will respect his wishes.
That being said...IF Alfie wants a trade to take a shot at a Cup, I (and other fans) would never hold that against him.
Proteau's comments about the Sens "projected" 2nd line is laughable and shows how little he knows/pays attention to Sens hockey. Butler WILL be on the 1st line with Spezza...not on the 2nd line. Many would be surprised if Zibanejad was on the Sens roster this year. Speaking of Gyllenhal....errr...I mean Zibanejad....I can almost GUARANTEE that had the Leafs drafted him in the 1st round, Proteau's projection/comments would be very different. I would dare say, he and other TO writers would be proclaiming that Burke had finally drafted/found a true first line center.
The Leafs have been ?rebuilding? for about 5 years now and what have they really accomplished? Despite what many blue and white faithful believe - just because 95% of the roster has been turned over, doesn't mean that a successful rebuild is underway. It just means you got new bodies (plugs) taking roster spots. That's not to say Burke hasn't made some nice acquisitions (Franson, Colbourne, Gardiner, etc).....but after 5 years of a rebuild they aren't any further along than the Sens are, (who are 6 months into their rebuild)...If anything I would say the Sens have a better and more diverse prospect pool (and more quality prospects) and key players already in place in key positions (ie Spezza - A legit #1 center). The Sens may be a few years from being a cup contender, but I would argue that the Sens are at most a Top6 forward and 1 year of experience (particularly for the D) away from being a playoff team and staying a playoff team for some time.
"Mika Zibanejad centering Nick Foligno and Bobby Butler" shouldn't be our second line. It should be something like Filatov, Regin, Alfie.... I'm saying it again, Butler anywhere besides Spezza's wing is just a waste...
Crap... it's obvious he knows nothing about the Sens young prospects. Then again -- he does not know what a re-build means.
To be fair, championship teams have a mix. We all love to say Murray built the foundation for th Ducks but Bob Murray and Brian Burke traded about two forward lines and rebuilt the D. Burke is a good trader, he got them three Hall of Famers that helped push them over the top. While the article is unfair, pretty much all players enter the NHL through the draft; a select few as free agents. Given this, you're looking more at whether you develop your own players or give up on them to pursue another route.
On the Alfie thing...we know what management is saying, but that old "kiss of death" comes to mind. If someone was willing to offer a top 5 pick or foundational players for Alfredsson, you would have to think about it. Yeah, the fanbase would explode in righterous anger, but they'd get over it and keep buying tickets because they're addicted to NHL hockey.
We're in a dangerous spot right now, really. If the team keeps losing and losing then fans will lose interest (you'll always have 10,000-12,000 die-hards + young people that just flock to a brand/event) seats will be empty. You know if Anderson keeps the team in contention or if we get a magic run like that 11-game win streak that Bryan will be salivating for a chance to push for the playoffs. I wouldn't put it past Anderson to **** us over again by preventing a top 5 pick from coming our way.
i like to make a point of begrudging ANY writer who badmouths the sens (logically or otherwise), but none are more deserving than proteau and steve simmons. they write about ottawa with such dismissive and patronizing tone, it just sickens me.
Seems to be that the man’s running into some unanticipated consequences of doing a league-wide write-up after a casual consultation with Yahoo’s depth charts. I asked him on twitter a while ago what Murray ‘should’ have done and he said something about fixing the second line. Shit, maybe he’s right! We really missed the boat on that golden Ville Leino opportunity!
Proteau is borderline mentally handicapped, and the least funny person in the history of the world. Anybody who follows him on twitter can confirm both of these things. Because of this I'm not even going to address what he wrote about the Sens.
Why did you include Calgary with Florida and Columbus?
@HKYcountry Hockey Prospectus rated Ottawa as having the 4th best minor league system. If the team compliments that group with another high-end prospect in 2012 and/or 2013, they're laughing.
@boobs I just don't understand the immediacy of having to fix a second line over the course of one summer. Considering the low expectations of the club, I'd prefer to see them use the opportunity to see if they can build organically and exhaust every opportunity (ie. if Regin stinks 2/3 of the way through the season, give Da Costa a shot) before having to look at external options that necessitate the exchange of assets.
@SteveHL The losing interest thing is overstated. Thanks to the All-Star Game being in Ottawa this season, I wouldn't expect season ticket renewals to drop. (Haven't seen latest numbers, does anyone know what they're at?)
I would be more concerned with the 2012-13 renewals but the future in Ottawa looks bright. If they keep following this path and play an entertaining style with inspired work ethic, I wouldn't anticipate a significant drop in sales.
@luckyevans I like Proteau. We've had him on our podcast before and he seems like a really nice guy. I just don't understand where he's coming from these two pieces of analysis.
Originally had just Florida and Columbus listed. And then included Calgary because of what they did this past offseason. They're the complete antithesis of the Ottawa Senators and will struggle to be relevant in the Western Conference playoff picture.
If we're talking about organizational philosophies, I'm at a loss of words trying to describe what they've done over the past two+ seasons.
@Nichols6thSens 100% agree...which is why I find it laughable when guys like Proteau and other media types gloss over Ottawa's farm system and try and perpetuate the myth of the Leafs. The optimist in me and others feel the Sens absolute top end this season would be a bubble 8th seed....but have a low end of something similar to this past season and chances are we end up with another pick in the 4 to 7 range. Guys like Proteau will be the first ones to write articles in a season or two claiming that no one in their right mind saw the Sens coming or thought their rebuild would happen so quickly. Well guess what, (Proteau and others of his ilk), those who pay attention to hockey outside of the GTA won't be shocked in the least.
People can call me a homer all they want - I'm not predicting a cup in the next 2 years or anything like that - but the Sens are well on their way back to the upper tier.
Had an e-mail from my acct exec.. at the Sens. They had a great off-season -- season ticket sales. Don't know the numbers though. That was most likely due to the All-Star game... but maybe some of those that watched this team down the stretch... and seeing the Binghamton Senators win the Calder Cup... are excited to see what these young guys can do.
Either way... it's a win-win for the organization.
@Nichols6thSens @SteveHL Bringing up the Murray vs Burke in Anaheim discussion and arguing the Kessel trade all in the same day. You're on a roll. Maybe next we should debate the Alfie hit on Tucker in game 5, 2002.
If Anderson is playing too well for them to get a lottery pick they can hopefully deal him to St Louis for Brian Elliott in mid-January.
@Nichols6thSens i'm sure he's a very nice fellow, i just hate that there's nothing the ottawa franchise can do right in the eyes of him and other members of the hockey media.
@Nichols6thSens I agree that their organization is a disaster. I just thought you were making the point that the Sens didn't need to appease fans the same was teams in a non-traditional market do. Calgary also could get away with doing a proper rebuild like Ottawa. The problem is that the Sutters don't realize this becuase they suffer from the same cognitive impairment as Adam Proteau.
@HKYcountry Unlike the Flames...
Nobody said Colborne can't be a good player. Nobody said Kessel isn't a good player. Nobody said Ottawa would trade a 30 goal scorer for a second and third round pick.
Let's have this discussion again in 3 years when Seguin is a top 10 centre in the league putting up 80 pts a year, Hamilton is a top pairing D, and Rask is their #1 goalie. They'll be a good team, who has already won a Cup, while the Leafs will still be average and their junk food loving, one-nutted winger will have bolted as a UFA.
This is unfair.
The Leafs got a perpetual 30-40 goal guy in Kessel, who was a 5th overall pick (?). If the Senators were trading for a guy that would give you 30 a year guaranteed, a second rounder or third rounder probably wouldn't cut it.
Joe Colborne was tabbed as a "4 star) from McKeen's, he has the potential to be a solid piece for them Biggs was an odd move for sure. Kaberle was useless to them; getting Colborne, a first and ? was a steal.
Sadly, the Leafs seem closer to playoff contention than we are here. I'm gonna be VERY unhappy if we lose game two to the Leafs. That would be humiliating beyond measure. So...don't lose to Detroit or Toronto this start of the season.
@Nichols6thSens It's ok. I'm sure Colboune and Biggs will turn out great for the Leafs and they'll get the last laugh. Just like Raycroft and Kessel.
They should really keep making as many trades as possible with Boston. It's entertaining.
@MelnyksHangovers Great point. In retrospect, the Kaberle deal was a high price to pay but thanks to the Stanley Cup victory, they'll never rue the day that the deal was made.
@Nichols6thSens Chicago screwed themselves with some bad moves before they even won the Cup, and then started to pay the price the summer after they won. They're lucky they won when they did. The Huet and Campbell deals were awful, and the fax machine fuck up cost them a lot of cap space.
Boston looks like a team that could potenitally not experience a drop off even after winning (mostly thanks to the Leafs). Having Seguin, Hamilton, and Rask all in the pipeline (a very high-end prospect at all three positions) is unheard of for a team that just won a Cup.
@MelnyksHangovers I think they fell into the same Stanley Cup hangover trap that quasi-ruined the Senators organization after 2007. I've written/talked about this ad nauseum on the site and in the podcasts but it's fun discussing the window of opportunity in the new NHL when a team is on the brink of Cup contention. Looking at the Chicago Blackhawks and Flyers respective situations, I think how they've handled their rosters since being in the Cup Finals is intriguing.