For all of the things that have gone down over the course of the two weeks, the Senators desperately needed some positive PR more than the Montreal Canadiens needed a top six forward who stands taller than Danny Briere.
Enter Bobby Ryan.
In a media blitz/publicity tour that even Mayor Jim Watson could be proud of, Ryan took to the airwaves and toured this city like he was a pop star icon.
He was anywhere and everywhere and Senators fans ate it up faster than a Golden Palace eggroll.
Of course it helps that the Sens have never really had a frontline player who can actually hold his own and represent himself well with the media. For a city like Ottawa, that’s panned by outsiders as a subdued and mundane place to be, Bobby Ryan is a beat writer’s wet dream. Being young, exuberant and most importantly, talented, he’s going to be someone who instantly connects with fans and gives the organization perhaps one of the most marketable talents that it has ever had. And maybe, just maybe, it gives the organization someone to challenge Eugene Melnyk for the ‘Must Listen Interview’ throne.
In Ryan’s interviews, principally his interview on the Team 1200 (transcribed by the Sens’ Chris Lund in a familiar style), he was charismatic, self-assured and well spoken.
He hit all the right cues; propping up new teammates…
“I don't know much about Spezz other than he's a walking highlight reel. He's a different kind of player. I think I'm blessed to come from playing with Getzlaf who I think is one of the best in the league, don't get me wrong about that, but coming into a situation playing with a guy like that where I'm going to be his go-to guy, I think. I think would Milan could work really well and I'm really hoping to jump in with those two.”
And even admitted to often watching the Senators play before his games on the west coast…
“It is, it's incredible. I said it earlier, you get to see a lot of Ottawa in the West Coast. We come to the rink at 4 o'clock our time and it's 7 o'clock your time so we're watching games all the time and we see a lot of Ottawa. I think anybody that can be a part of that and witness that -- what they did last year was incredible with the injuries and all that kind of stuff.”
Who knows whether it’s genuinely true or bullshit spun by an incredibly gifted self-promoter who recognizes the void and knows how to placate a fanbase that needs some soothing after its beloved captain bolted for the bankrupt city of Detroit.
Either way, as a natural right winger who has been boxed out of that position on one of Anaheim’s top two lines thanks to the presence of Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne, the opportunity to come to Ottawa, flank Jason Spezza and become part of the team’s young core, is not lost on Ryan.
“I was always a right winger and that never really changed, but with Anaheim I've played centre, I've played left wing -- I almost played defence a couple of times -- but I've played a little bit of everything and I think that I'm starting to get more and more comfortable on the right wing towards the end of where I was in Anaheim, but if you play the right wing there you have to play behind Perry and Teemu and that was tough to do so they moved me to left and I got comfortable there. Whatever Ottawa has in store for me, I'm ready to do. I think I can play all three positions pretty comfortably now.
“You look at that young group and I still consider myself somewhat of a young guy and you think I'm going to join this really cool core nucleus of guys and it's a refreshing feeling. Not to say anything bad, but you just never had that in Anaheim. I'm really refreshed to do that here, I can't wait.
And why wouldn’t he want to finally have the opportunity to be a prominent part of this team’s offence, with two years left on his contract, the probability of cashing in with massive extension is very real.
“Oh, absolutely. I haven't seen anything outside of the media whirlwind that I've been on since I've been here, but you look at a team that gave up what they gave up, and they gave up some good young players and then they gave up a first round draft pick, and you just want to reward them for what they gave up. I think anybody that gets drafted to any team, in my case Anaheim, you want to go in and you want to win championships and do all this cool stuff with them. For me this is a new start on that and you just want to be a part of that group and want to be part of that core. Obviously we can't even talk about it and I think most people think that we need to do it right away but I want people to know that we can't even talk about it for another year. It's a calendar year away for me.”
It may only be a calendar year before the Senators can talk extension, but buttering up Ottawa’s fans will get you everywhere Bobby Ryan.
But, if we’re going to Ryan credit for being a great interview, we may as well give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s not an idiot.
A calendar year is still a significant amount of time for Ryan to rip it up and create a significant amount of leverage in contract negotiations. The Senators may have a decent track record of inking its core guys (ie. Karlsson, anyone and everyone following its 2007 Cup run) to extensions before they hit UFA, but should Ryan have a productive season, the Senators will be caught between a rock and a hard place in negotiations; especially if Ryan’s representation insists on driving up the price by hitting the open market in two seasons’ time. Is it that crazy to think Bobby Ryan could be back on the market in a year's time if negotiations go nowhere quick?
Hoffman Inks New Deal
Last season, a shoulder injury cost Mike Hoffman a significant opportunity to a promotion and regular NHL minutes when the Senators were beset by injuries early in their 2013 season.
Today Hoffman, long thought of as a player who has the ability to crack the Senators lineup should opportunity strike, settled for a two-way, one-year deal that carries a $660,000 NHL salary and an AHL salary of $67,000. Oddly enough, the deal is a step down financially from his recently expired entry-level deal.
As CapGeek pointed out post-signing, Mike Hoffman will require waivers to be sent down to Binghamton, perhaps giving him an inside track on the competition at camp come September. With a very reasonable AHL salary, it's not unlikely to think that some other team would want to claim him and keep him in the AHL for depth purposes.
This re-signing joins other recent minor league housekeeping in two-year deals for David Dziurzynski and Mark Borowiecki, with Boro's contract being the rarely seen one-way in year one, and two-way in year two.
Luke Richardson Signs An Extension of His Own
At his meeting with City Council Eugene Melnyk told the local media contingent that the Senators were “trying to compensate lack of capital by changing the way we conduct our hockey operations. And that is develop young players.”
Today the Senators took a step towards strengthening and preserving its strong player development methods by announcing that they have extended Binghamton Senators head coach Luke Richardson and his coaching staff with one-year extensions that will expire at the conclusion of the 2014/15 season.
Despite the constant roster shuffling that accompanied their parent team’s injury woes, Richardson helped lead the Binghamton Senators to a 44-24-1-7 record – good enough for second place within their East Division and the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference.