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...
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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.
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Craig Rivet Signs With Elmira in the ECHL
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And One Last Tidbit...
Some mercenary named Dany Heatley returns to SBP tonight.