As a website that devoted more than its fair share of criticism towards Cory Clouston’s decision making and apparel, it would be pretty fucking hypocritical of me not to openly wonder what new head coach Paul MacLean is thinking should the opportunity present itself, right?
(Glad you agree.)
For the second consecutive season, an Ottawa Senators coach has relegated a player who had exhibited some success playing alongside Jason Spezza in the previous season. Like Peter Regin before him, Bobby Butler began the season on the team’s fourth line before ultimately settling into the press box for Saturday night’s game in Toronto. As I joked on Twitter, “sitting alongside Peter Regin the press box is the closest that Butler has been to a playmaking center in quite some time.”
Hell, even this union was short-lived.
Earlier it was announced this morning that Peter Regin’s injured shoulder is healthy enough for him to make his regular season debut and in a jarring bit of news, Butler will be joined by Nikita Filatov and Brian Lee as healthy scratches.
On a superficial level, it's a bit of a bit of a je ne sais quoi.
Now if you’re the kind of person who ignores the notion of promise and prefers to invest a ton of stock into immediate results production, you’re probably not too bothered by MacLean’s decisions. Through two games, Filatov (2 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 shot) and Butler (1 GP, 0 G, 0 A, -1, 1 shot) have been underwhelming. Nevertheless, it’s such a small sample size of games to analyze, fret over or single out these players when the team has collectively done their best imitation of Peter Bondra in a Senators uniform.
Nevertheless, in light of how often Senators brass emphasized the need to give Filatov an extended opportunity to play and acclimatize; I’m slightly taken aback by the decision to scratch him so early into the season.
So what gives?
According to La Presse’s Sylvain St. Laurent, MacLean singled out Butler and Filatov during yesterday’s practice saying, "What are you two doing over there? You wanna be a part of it or what?"
Now I’m not privy to being able to watch every Senators practice or skate, so I can’t comment fairly on how their practice habits or off-ice preparations are. Nevertheless, via SenatorsExtra.com, Paul MacLean reflected on the respective benching at this morning’s practice, “The other guys have played better. Nikita is making some great strides in the organization in the way that he’s approached it. He’s worked real hard…things haven’t gone good for him, much the same for Bobby Butler. I think he’s still learning how we’re playing the game and the speed we’re playing the game at and it’s kind of affected their offensive play at times.”
Hmmm, that’s not too forthright. So maybe it's best not to infer that this isn’t about sending a message or using the press box as part of the development process for young players.
If we’re truly being honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that Butler and Filatov aren’t best suited for bottom six roles. Each player has to learn the nuances of playing without the puck and neither player brings a physical dimension to their play. In consequence, it’s impractical to be bothered by the fact that a Nick Foligno or Zenon Konopka is taking their spot. They're not.
Instead, with Mika Zibanejad flanking Jason Spezza on Ottawa’s first line, it’s far more likely that these moves correspond with MacLean using this as an opportunity to evaluate Zibanejad in different situations before his 9-game audition ends and the organization ultimately sends him back to ‘reindeer land’.
So although on the surface, it seems pretty disconcerting that a rebuilding organization would bench two of its forwards who actually show some semblance of natural offensive talent, it hopefully will only be a short-term predicament. Similarly, in the grand scheme of things, being a healthy scratch for one game seems trivial. Hopefully this is just an example of their respective benchings being temporary and not something that becomes more systemic…
However, it doesn’t help matters that Brian Lee, tonight's third healthy scratch, is a player who has been jerked around for the past three seasons and had his personal development take a backseat to whatever was in the best interests of the organization at the time.
Cross your fingers everyone...
Ottawa Kicking the Tires on Kyle Turris?
After CBC's Elliotte Friedman confirmed Turris' intent to use his ridiculous contract demands as a mechanism to facilitate a trade, Gus Katsaros from McKeen's Hockey, reported that the Ottawa Senators are interested in the Phoenix Coyotes center.
As exciting as that possibility is, it would hardly be surprising to learn that every NHL organization would have done the due diligence and placed a call to Don Maloney.
Mike Peluso Speaks out on Fighting in the NHL
Back in town for tonight's home opener against the Minnesota Wild that will also honour the the 1992-93 inaugural team, former Senators pugilist Mike Peluso speaks to the Sun's Earl McRae on fighting's place in the NHL.
Craig Rivet Signs With Elmira in the ECHL
According to a Puck Daddy article, the former Buffalo Sabres captain has inked a contract with the Elmira Jackals, Ottawa's ECHL affiliate. Please note that this contract does not make Rivet exclusive property of the Senators.
And One Last Tidbit...
Some mercenary named Dany Heatley returns to SBP tonight.
The small sample size argument applies to the players and the new coaching staff equally. However, I disagree with you when you say that Filatov/Butler are being scratched simply to allow Zibanejad to play on Spezza's wing. With Colin Greening occupying the other wing slot on that line, it's safe to say that there is at least one player on our top line tonight who is less offensively talented than both players sitting in the press box. I'm not in any way advocating for Greening to be scratched, but it does seem that he's the type of player who can (should?) play on the bottom-six. Bump him to the fourth line, drop Konopka and slide one Butler/Filatov into the vacated wing spot.
As such, I think this decision has more to do with effort level than anything. In principle, I'm not uncomfortable with the notion of earning your spot on the roster, especially with this young team that is learning to play this type of system. That said, I am with the apparent ease with which MacLean is pulling the trigger here, especially with regards to Filatov.
it would be wise to reassess this matter at the nine-game mark when the team will have to make a firm decision about its roster.
I'm not really surprised, we're kind of in an "extended preseason" now as MacLean juggles the lines. Especially since they need to decide what to do with Rundblad and Zibanejad. We don't really have a final roster with all the extra bodies so we'll see people moving in and out of the lineup, probably at the expense of someone who doesn't really deserve
Butler hasn't really earned his spot in the top-6 based on his preseason play. He'll get his chance eventually.
As for Filatov I think he's a long-term project and really needs time. His talent and speed are clearly apparent but he hasn't really 'clicked' and he looks really frustrated out there. It'll be interesting if they resign him, we've got Hoffman, Silfverberg and Petersson pushing for roster spots next year.
I don't care if Foligno is taking a top-six or bottom-six spot, and I don't care if this is the NHL or Minor Atom AA, he deserves to be scratched for the patheticly soft play he made on the Orr goal on Saturday. Right after Ottawa gets back in the game he decides he's playing Womens Rec League Hockey. Watch the reply.
Also, I think it's worth putting a scoreboard on the side of the website to track the number of times he falls versus the number of times he makes a good play with the puck.