When I announced the contest, I mentioned that I would try and find an impartial judge to select the winner. Well, I've found the judge - Rogers Sportsnet's Ian Mendes.
So here's the deal:
1) Go to the contest page.
2) Write a caption or take the image and PhotoShop it. (If you're going to PhotoShop it, please email me the picture and I'll upload/post it to the comment section with credit to your name.)
3) Create as many entries as you want.
4) The winner will be announced Friday morning, so the deadline will be Thursday night at 11:59pm.
Thanks to Ian for agreeing to help out and Sens fans take note, Ian's 1-on-1 sit down interview with Dany Heatley will air tonight on Sportsnet and it will also be available in print form on the Sportsnet website later today.
Eugene Melnyk's alter ego is back!
One month after his subdued appearance on The Fan 590, that bravado spewing, eternal optimist, super-fan is back!
The Euge is back!
In a hilarious Ottawa Sun article that includes a headline that refers to last year's Canadiens squad as Stanley Cup finalists, The Euge, according to Don Brennan, is as optimistic as ever. He believes the Senators can be this season’s Montreal Canadiens.
“Look where Montreal was a year ago. I remember exactly. I was skiing in the Laurentians and reading the Gazette, and everybody was just absolutely killing them. And where did they end up? Look how far they went in the playoffs. Don’t underestimate this team, or the heart of this team. Or the experience. I think, most importantly, their will to win. These are tough, tough guys.”
Oh, where to start...
1) The Euge might remember but apparently Sun Media doesn't remember. Cup finalists? Ha.
2) How crazy is The Euge for skiing while reading the Montreal Gazette? That's more irresponsible than Donnie Brennan texting in his contributions to the Ottawa Sun's Digital Faceoffs while driving.
3) The Senators can be this season's version of the Montreal Canadiens? Sorry, when did the organization lower the bar from the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup?
4) This year's Canadiens? Is that the same club that Marcia Di Michele of the National Post wrote that no one can honestly deny that the biggest reason the Habs sat one series win away from the Stanley Cup was the man between the pipes. 25 year old Jaroslav Halak, in many games, literally put the entire Canadiens team on his shoulders and lead them to victory. He shut down some of the best players in the NHL, and did so with a calm presence, looking unfazed despite playing for one of the most storied franchises in NHL history.
5) Thanks to The Euge, I now have my answer for every time I pick the Sens to lose in James Gordon's prediction panels for SenatorsExtra.com. Today, I question this team, their heart, their experience and their will to win.
6) It's hilarious to see that Melnyk's listing Ottawa's intangibles as reasons why no one should count them out. No mention of their talent level though...
The Euge apparently wasn't finished...
“Put on your seatbelts,” Melnyk told Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman Saturday. “We’re going all the way this year.” ~ Via Bruce Garrioch, Off the Posts
<Insert laughter here>
The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, made the worst mistake a GM can make after winning the World Series -- they're overpaying one of the guys who got them there just because he got them there. After pulling a left-for-dead Huff off the scrap pile last offseason and getting far more than they paid for from him in 2010, the Giants reupped Huff for two years and a vesting option at more than twice the annual salary they gave him on the just-expired one-year deal.
Sound familiar? It should. It's the same lock up the guys who got you there trap that the Ottawa Senators fell into following their 2007 Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Over the next two seasons, players like Heatley, Spezza, Kelly, Fisher, Neil and Ray Emery were rewarded with new contracts and raises. At the time, we didn't know any better. The salary cap was still a new entity. Not enough time had passed for us to determine what successful building models were. And to be brutally honest, no one in Ottawa cared. All we knew was that all of our previous playoffs defeats were a thing of the past. The Sens had finally gotten over the hump. We didn't think that Bryan Murray was mismanaging the cap, he was just locking up the "core" of the team. How were we supposed to realize that our time as a Stanley Cup contender would be cut so short?
Fast forward to today. Ottawa are losers of six of the past seven games. As the losses continue to mount, my faith in the organization and its core continues to wane. For the past three years, this team has been afforded every opportunity to right the ship and as it currently stands, the story is the same: the offence is too inconsistent and can't out-produce their contract value; each defenceman too one-dimensional; and the goaltending... will the goaltending problem ever get resolved?
Under Murray's watch, we've already endured the coaching firings of Craig Hartsburg, John Paddock and Eli Wilson. And now that the Senators are struggling to find some consistency under Cory Clouston, fans are starting to question his decisions. Like a single professional hockey player living in Ottawa, Clouston has juggled line combinations like they're phone numbers. The rate at which he has moved guys around has become comical but I don't necessarily fault him for being guilty of micro-managing this team. The question needs to be addressed: when is it appropriate to start looking at the personnel of a team that has won 2 playoff games in the past three seasons?
As I alluded to in an article this morning, the Toronto Star did the due diligence - only 54 teams have made the playoffs in the past 15 years once they're outside the playoff picture by American Thanksgiving. With 21 points in 23 games, Ottawa currently resides in 10th spot in the East. If this was a young team that was trying to find its way and learn the ropes, I wouldn't be concerned. But this is the third oldest team in the NHL. Teams of this age shouldn't be bubble playoff teams. A playoff spot, to borrow a line from Stevie Wonder, should be signed, sealed and delivered. (Note: Ironically, as of today, of the seven oldest teams in the NHL, only two are currently in a playoff position - Phoenix and Detroit.)
Bryan Murray supporters will maintain that he has done a good job replenishing the farm system and prospect cupboard. Pundits will argue that every trade that he has made that involved a NHL-calibre player, he has lost. When Erik Karlsson - the closest to a sure prospect that Ottawa has - was scratched for two games this week, it hit home. If he's not ready to be the difference maker that this team needs in his second professional season, how can one reasonably assume that the likes of Bobby Butler, Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba, David Rundblad and Robin Lehner will be able to big contributions in the next year or two?
With the trade deadline moves and veteran free agent signings that Ottawa has made over the past three years, I just feel like Ottawa's veteran core has been afforded every opportunity to get back to that 2007 level and it just hasn't worked out. With the way that the salary cap system is structured, Ottawa should be trying to add as many young pieces to the aforementioned prospect pool to augment its future. With a veteran laden lineup and approximately $16-million coming off of the books this on July 1st, the next few months are going to quickly decide how this franchise .
Tough decisions have to be made and they're ones that I no longer entrust to Bryan or Tim Murray (the likely incumbent GM once Bryan steps down). Given Bryan's contract status, the bias that he developed for these players when he coached them and his perpetual ability to make reactive transactions, I no longer have the faith in the current brain trust to do the right thing. Even when this team is winning and things are going well, most fans that I know are guilty of waiting for the other shoe to drop. We've grown wary of these guys.
My philosophy has always been that to build a hockey team through the draft into a Stanley contender and then wait for the one year when you get hot at the right time and everything falls in your favor. As such, I'd prefer to see a candidate who has had experience working in the modern cap era. Someone who has been involved with the process of taking a veteran team and turning things around through their strong player development and amateur scouting. Someone who has been involved in some tough decisions and most importantly, someone who has no loyalty to this current group.
My suggestion is for The Euge to avoid a name candidate. To avoid that old boys network that has characterized the NHL hierarchy. (Note: Although with the way that Stephen Walkom called yesterday's Penguins game, maybe having Colin Campbell on our side wouldn't be such a bad idea.) I'd suggest a guy like Craig Billington, the Vice President of Hockey Operations and Assistant General Manager of the Colorado Avalanche. According to the Avalanche's website, Billington works closely with GM Sherman in running the day-to-day operations of the franchise. The London, Ontario native has been a part of the Avalanche front office for the past six years, starting as the club’s goaltending consultant before being named Director of Player Development. He added the title of vice president in the summer of 2008. In his previous role, the former Avalanche goaltender oversaw each of the major junior, college and minor league prospects throughout the organization.
Since the Joe Sakic era came to a conclusion, the Avalanche have: drafted well; made some free agent signings - both of the bargain and high-profile variety; and made some tough decisions on trades. Whether it was recognizing an expensive mistake in Ryan Smyth or moving an impending free with exorbitant salary demands in Wojtek Wolski for a controllable but underachieving asset in Peter Mueller, the Avalanche organization has never been afraid to roll the dice. And really, it's just an added bonus that Billington played for the Senators and is familiar with the city.
Alright, so here's the deal. I have a Metro Family 4 Pack of tickets to giveaway to the Senators vs Devils game that is taking place on December 10th. The package includes 4 tickets to the game, 4 drinks, 4 hot dogs and has a suggested retail price of $99.
So how do you win this package?
The premise is simple: Below is an image of Erik Karlsson. Give us a caption in the comment thread below or alter the photo via PhotoShop and email it to me. There's no limit on the number of entries per person so have some fun with it. To ensure some impartiality, I'll see if I can get some mystery guest judge to pick the winner.
*** Thanks to Twitter follower @kevbste for the image.
The internet and the Senators blogosphere became a shittier place today. Senators Los Cojones (SLC) of Five For Smiting fame, has decided to pack it in. As part of the Ottawa Blog Collective (aka the Old Guard), SLC excelled with his style - blending a hilarious vernacular with expletives and pot shots at Sun Media. Simply put, it was my favorite Senators website and it's a shame to see it go.
SLC, you and your "coverage" of the Ottawa Senators will be sorely missed.
After watching Wednesday night's humbling 2-1 loss that channeled the Craig Hartsburg era, I spent a significant amount of time poring over some statistics. For my sanity's sake, I couldn't help it. I needed to quantify just how awful the Senators have been.
I knew the Senators would be rough in the early stretch of the season. The warning signs were there: secondary scorers like Michalek and Kovalev were coming off of major knee surgeries; the third line trio of Kelly, Ruutu and produced career high numbers last season; Fish is guaranteed to put up 40-45 points, you just don't know when they're going to come; and the philosophy for the blueline completely changed.
"It’s great to block shots, but I’d like (to force) the other team to block shots. And you do that by having the puck, helping your forwards get the attack going and being creative, and in particular from the back end.
"Now, with Erik (Karlsson) and him and Filip Kuba on the back end and a couple of kids coming, our mobility is considerably different ... (Gonchar) adds a lot to our team, with back-end mobility and (being able) to play the point on the power play. That's how you win games in the league now." ~ Bryan Murray
Who knew that Bryan Murray could say something that sounds so good? (Note: There's a 99.99999% chance that it came out better in print than the audio clip.) Now maybe Murray's identified the philosophy on how to win but with 22 games into this NHL season, the results haven't been there thus far.
The numbers speak for themselves:
- 2.40 goals for per game (7th worst in the League)
- 3.13 goals allowed per game (4th worst in the League)
- A 10-11-1 record is good for 21 points in 22 games (9th in the Eastern Conference)
- Only 54 teams have made the playoffs in the past 15 seasons if they were out of a playoff spot on American Thanksgiving. (via The Toronto Star)
- 28.859 years of age (3rd oldest team in the NHL) ~ via NHLnumbers.com
- 1,242,645 line combinations (Most in the NHL. If only Cory could rotate his lines like he works in his salmon shirt/tie/suit combination.)
- Nick Foligno 0 goals (Muckaltian production!)
- Ottawa's goaltenders have had to make 631 saves. (7th most in the NHL).
- Unfortunately, the amount of shots hasn't inflated their collective save percentage. At 90.1%, Ottawa has the 8th worst save percentage in the NHL.
- Sergei Gonchar, -12. (His plus/minus while playing at home? Even. On the road? -12. I think it's safe to say that Cory Clouston isn't getting the matchups that he wants on the road.)
- Peter Regin only has 34 shots on net. Four more than Jesse Winchester. I get that Peter feels like he has to defer to Kovalev a lot, but shoot the effing rock man!
Couldn't move the puck.
Outshot and lacked discipline.
God that was boring.
Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean isn't the only one with a proverbial hard on for Brad Richards. With young players like David Backes foregoing unrestricted free agency to ink contracts with their current clubs and an unresolved ownership situation in Dallas, Richards is almost assured of being the marquee name when July 1st comes around. (Note: I'm hesitant to even mention Alexander Semin in the conversation about potential UFAs. He's already earning $6.0-million per year and Washington has $22 million in cap space next season.)
In the last year of a contract that averages a $7.8-million cap hit, it's tough to envision what the then 31-year old Richards will fetch on the open market. But with each road game, fans around the NHL are privy to the naivety that Richards could one day be theirs. Recently, it was Toronto's turn and now it's Ottawa's turn. With close to $16 million in projected cap space, some underwhelming production from their centers not named Jason Spezza and a dearth of offensive center prospects in the system, Richards is an intriguing option to consider. More so when you recognize recent trends and an even worse free agent crop in 2012.
Let's look at Ottawa's situation:
- Chris Kelly coming off the books in the books in 2012;
- All of Ottawa's best forward prospects are scoring wingers;
- The team already has the young defencemen (ie. Wiercioch, Cowen, Karlsson, Rundblad, Gryba) and goaltender of the future (Lehner) accounted for;
- The organization has a desire to remain competitive on an annual basis and hope that the stars align for that one season;
- $16 million in cap space on July 1st, 2011;
According to Cap Geek, here is the projected cap space for each NHL team on July 1st, 2011:
|Team||Payroll ||Bonuses||Cap Space||Roster Spots
|Dallas Stars »||$37,895,001||$145,000||$21,504,999||17||$3,584,167|
|Phoenix Coyotes »||$24,268,750||$0||$35,131,250||11||$2,927,604|
|Colorado Avalanche »||$28,610,000||$2,885,000||$30,790,000||12||$2,799,091|
|Atlanta Thrashers »||$28,966,666||$3,087,500||$30,433,334||12||$2,766,667|
|New York Islanders »||$23,489,833||$3,087,500||$35,910,167||10||$2,762,321|
|Los Angeles Kings »||$40,268,334||$2,690,000||$19,131,666||16||$2,733,095|
|Florida Panthers »||$23,929,167||$425,000||$35,470,833||10||$2,728,526|
|Nashville Predators »||$33,833,333||$987,500||$25,566,667||13||$2,556,667|
|Washington Capitals »||$37,159,572||$80,000||$22,240,428||14||$2,471,159|
|Carolina Hurricanes »||$26,637,500||$615,000||$32,762,500||9||$2,340,179|
|Edmonton Oilers »||$40,000,000||$3,787,500||$19,400,000||14||$2,155,556|
|Ottawa Senators »||$42,887,500||$425,000||$16,512,500||15||$2,064,063|
|Toronto Maple Leafs »||$38,786,666||$1,000,000||$20,613,334||13||$2,061,333|
|St. Louis Blues »||$35,429,166||$2,350,000||$23,970,834||11||$1,997,570|
|Tampa Bay Lightning »||$37,663,583||$2,737,500||$21,736,417||12||$1,976,038|
|Buffalo Sabres »||$37,717,024||$562,500||$21,682,976||12||$1,971,180|
|Columbus Blue Jackets »||$44,368,749||$1,350,000||$15,031,251||15||$1,878,906|
|Montreal Canadiens »||$34,086,309||$400,000||$25,313,691||9||$1,808,121|
|New York Rangers »||$41,850,000||$212,500||$17,550,000||13||$1,755,000|
|Detroit Red Wings »||$44,558,711||$0||$14,841,289||14||$1,649,032|
|Boston Bruins »||$49,852,975||$2,850,000||$9,547,025||17||$1,591,171|
|Anaheim Ducks »||$44,933,333||$500,000||$14,466,667||13||$1,446,667|
|Minnesota Wild »||$50,745,277||$202,500||$8,654,723||17||$1,442,454|
|Vancouver Canucks »||$46,608,333||$0||$12,791,667||14||$1,421,296|
|Chicago Blackhawks »||$42,385,503||$0||$17,014,497||10||$1,308,807|
|New Jersey Devils »||$50,788,332||$0||$8,611,668||16||$1,230,238|
|San Jose Sharks »||$47,150,001||$425,000||$12,249,999||12||$1,113,636|
|Pittsburgh Penguins »||$51,133,333||$0||$8,266,667||13||$826,667|
|Calgary Flames »||$56,778,333||$425,000||$2,621,667||18||$524,333|
|Philadelphia Flyers »||$57,585,823||$1,700,000||$1,814,177||18||$362,835|
Would Richards ever want to play in Ottawa? I'm not sure. If he doesn't, hopefully Bryan has a good plan B.