Boners up! Another episode of The 6th Sens Podcast is available for your listening pleasure. It's been awhile since we've recorded one of these things so bear with us. Also, if anyone knows where Tim is, it'd be greatly appreciated if he could be returned to us for our next recording. Thanks.
As always, you can subscribe/download/stream the episode or entire catalogue of episodes from Itunes. Or you can download the file by right-clicking and saving this file. Or you can simply stream the episode below. We hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions or comments about the podcast, please leave us some feedback in the comment thread below. Thanks for listening, we hope you enjoy the show.
Tracklist for the podcast: Weekend Coma Summer; Capstan Shifts Heart Your Eat Out; and Pete Yorn Velcro Shoes.
What's up, guys. I'm Lewy, and I'll be your resident haiku guy, taking over for Graeme. I have my own blog at http://www.the-breakout-pass.blogspot.com/, so be sure to check it out. I'm running a contest for a free Erik Karlsson jersey t-shirt, so hurry and get your entries in!
Flyers flying high Senators roll over, die See you in Raleigh
During yesterday's second period intermission, Hockey Night in Canada featured their regular Hotstove panel that included former Islanders GM Mike Milbury. When the topic of Jeff Carter's 11-year contract extension was broached, Mad Mike chimed in with an intriguing comment.
"The whole thing conspires against guys like Brian Burke who are trying to wait for free agents. The guys are signing at post-entry level contracts to 7, 8,9, 10, 11 years and then they're gone. They're off the market. There's nobody there to chase them. If Ehrhoff goes, there's another one down the drain. A guy that Brian Burke was maybe counting on, not just him but a bunch of other guys. (You) Can't get at them any more.
"What are they selling? Are they selling competition? I mean, Chicago went for the marbles and won the game last year. Now we got 3,4, 5 or 6 teams that are spending that kind of money and offering what? Are they guaranteeing a championship? No. Are they guaranteeing competitiveness? I don't know."
Considering the source is a failed GM who became renowned for his willingness to trade young assets, I suppose it's not really surprising to hear that he's critical of these teams who lock up the core of their team to lengthy contracts. (Especially when Milbury's successor on Long Island, Garth Snow, inked Rick DiPietro to that 15-year, $67.5-million pact.) However, hidden within Milbury's comments is a fair assessment of the new NHL.
I can remember when the 04-05 NHL lockout ended, pundits championed the new CBA as an agreement that would create a ton of publicity and buzz for the league because of the influx of player transactions that would occur. Unfortunately, this perk hasn't manifested because owners conceded that the age of UFA would drop from 31 to 27 years of age. An unforeseen consequence of the hard cap system has been this emphasis for teams to retain their young players rather than risk losing them on the open market for nothing. What we have been left with is a system in which there is little player movement and an even smaller margin for managerial error. If your favorite team's GM is wrong with his assessment of the core, you're left with an expensive roster that's virtually untradeable because of these long-term deals and the necessity to match dollar-for-dollar in any trade.
As much as I want to favour of any model that makes Brian Burke look foolish for misevaluating the trend to retain players before they get to free agency, I can't help but be concerned for the Senators since they're another team that should have some serious cap flexibility this offseason. (Note: The last thing that I want to see is the team splurge on some Tier II free agents because they have cap space to blow.)
The more I think about the current system, the more I wonder whether a hybrid non-guaranteed contract / hard cap system is the way of the future. Under such a system, the Shelden Souray and Wade Redden situations would inevitably be avoided and it would create a flurry of player transaction activity that would create some buzz and publicity for the NHL. (Note: I'm in favour of anything that gives TSN's pundits something worthwhile to talk about. My apologies to the riveting mock All-Star draft in which Keith Jones and Aaron Ward pretended to be All-Star captains.)
I know. I know. The cynical side of you believes that the players would never go for a scenario in which they could leave money on the table. It's a fair point. Albeit, weren't people saying the same thing about a hard cap salary system ten years ago?
Say that the NHL were to adopt a model in which the amount of guaranteed money in a contract was negotiable, players might not necessarily be leaving money of the table. Let's use the Redden contract as an example. When he signed his 6-year $39.5-million pact, there weren't many pundits out there who championed the deal at the time. The New York Post's Larry Brooks said Redden's deal stands as the worst in the history of the NHL, if not in the history of hard-cap pro sports. (Ed. note: As a former #2 overall draft pick, least Wade will be remembered. A wise man once said that nobody remembers number two.)
Now let's say that Redden signs that same deal with the only difference being that only $21-million of the contract is guaranteed and after one season, the Rangers determine that Redden wasn't worth the $6.5-million cap hit. They could cut him but still be on the hook for the remainder of the $14.5-million that is guaranteed. If Redden could fetch a 5-year deal after that first season averaging a cap hit of $3-million per season, he would come close to netting the same amount of dollars that he would have netted had he played out the duration of his original contract. (Ed. note: Assuming that he wouldn't get cut again.)
Obviously such a scenario would be beneficial for the Rangers since they wouldn't have to absorb his annual cap hit or pay out the remaining total of his $39.5-million contract. Yet, at the same time, it's punitive in the sense that Redden could have played one season and netted $21-million for his trouble. It helps foster some risk-reward circumstances in which teams can't afford to mismanage money. At the very least, it could create some intrigue within the hard cap system in which there could be some diversity amongst the NHL's haves and the have-nots.
Remember when it was fun to hate on the Leafs or the Rangers because they had the financial wherewithal to buy their players every offseason? Well, under this non-guaranteed contract / hard cap hybrid, these teams could afford to offer more guaranteed money than an organization like Nashville ever could.
I suppose that you could argue that these have teams already are afforded the luxury of being able to bury bad contracts like Redden's in the minors but at least under my hybrid solution, Redden would have an opportunity to find another NHL gig. I've never been a card carrying member of the Wade Redden Fanclub, but I think it's absolutely ridiculous that a player can't play in the NHL because he makes too much money.
It's all food for thought and I'd love to know what you readers think. Have at it in the comments thread.
With close to $15-million coming off of the books on July 1st, 2011, it's become human nature for me to look ahead to the upcoming offseason and think of how drastically different the Senators could look. For anyone who's visited this site regularly, you have probably noticed that I've developed a bit of a mancrush on one David Backes of the St. Louis Blues. As a young player who is entering his prime, he would not only fill a need as a top six winger but he would also represent a marked change from Ottawa's history of signing good players who are past their primes.
After yesterday's news that the 26-year old winger signed a 5-year extension worth $22.5-million that will keep him in a Blues jersey for the foreseeable future, my pipedream is over. I'm going to need a couple of days to regroup and find a new object of affection for this offseason. Suggestions will be welcomed.
Leclaire Breaks Stick in Practice
So Leclaire shattered something in practice yesterday that wasn't a bone? It's nice to hear that he's making some progress.
Bruins Game Ce Soir
With an 8-4-1, the Boston Bruins are playing some pretty good hockey right now. So much so that their biggest concern these days is identifying the identity of some female Bruins fan who vandalized their washroom.
Apparently the Bruins Bear is out for vengeance too. In an effort to capitalize on the vandal video that has now gone viral, the Bruins organization responded by publishing this hilarious response.
For the second time in less than a week, a Columbus beat writer has indicated that a member of the Senators scouting department is on hand to check out some Blue Jackets action. First it was Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch who Tweeted on November 4th for the Blue Jackets game against the Atlanta Thrashers that a slew of scouts in bldg: Colorado, Ottawa, Toronto, Phoenix, Vancouver (2), Chicago, Tampa Bay and Dallas all in the house.
Tonight it was Eric Smith from Fox Sports Ohio who Tweeted that the Ottawa Senators have 3 scouts on hand for tonight's game between CBJ and StLBlues. Did the Sens take advantage of a ticket package?
Obviously there is some familiarity in negotiations between Scott Howson and Bryan Murray. At the 2009 NHL trade deadline, the Senators moved Antoine Vermette to the Jackets in exchange for Pascal Leclaire and a second round pick that was used on Robin Lehner.
Here's a quick glance at the Jackets' roster (courtesy of Yahoo! Sports):
Charlotte, North Carolina
South Windsor, Connecticut
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
Novy Jicin, Czechoslovakia
St. Agapit, Quebec
So readers, what are you thinking? Who do you like off of the Jackets?
First of all, I just wanted to apologize to all of you readers who have come to this website for a steady flow of blogs and podcasts. The last few weeks have been mind numbingly hectic for me and the other guys so finding the time and energy to organize and write something just hasn't been there lately. It hasn't really helped matters that the Senators have substantially improved their play of late. When a team is winning, it's not like it lends itself to interesting conversation. So thank you to those readers who have emailed in asking when the next podcast will occur, we will be back in studios this week.
So without further ado, let's get on with this.
I think it was on the weekend that one of Ottawa's beat reporters Tweeted that Cory Clouston had formulated a plan for how he's going to get both goalies involved in the upcoming weeks. Frankly, I wouldn't have blamed him had he said that he's just going to ride the hot hand. For the past few weeks, Brian Elliott has been nothing short of fantastic. His rebound control has been good. He has eliminated his penchant for giving up the soft goal, he's made some timely saves and he's giving his team an opportunity to win every night.
Even after attending tonight's game and noticing that the report is out on Elliott and teams are targetting his blocker side, I have this new found faith in him to make to the proper adjustments. You can call it the Sans Eli Wilson Effect.
Now that Leclaire is healthy, it's not like there's any impetus on the coaching staff to get him back between the pipes so long as the team is winning. According to today's Don Brennan article, Leclaire's competitive juices are flowing and he's antsy to get back into the game. I don't blame him. So long as he's stapled to the bench, his days of "earning" a fat paycheck could be drawing to a close.
Considering that both goaltenders are impending free agents - Elliott is restricted, Leclaire is unrestricted - it's for these same monetary purposes that I'm interested in seeing how the situation unfolds.
On Monday, when I met up with a friend for a drink, the subject of the Senators goaltending inevitably came up and I was asked what I would do as GM if Leclaire had an unbelievable end to the 2010-11 season.
My answer was simple: I'd let Leclaire walk.
His reaction was incredulous. He couldn't believe that I would be completely comfortable in handing the reins over to Elliott and Robin Lehner next season.
So I ask you readers this, would it be significantly worse than the situation is already? For the past two seasons, Ottawa's goaltenders have been statistically anemic. Last season the Senators had the third worst save percentage in the league (90.0%) and the 19th best goals against average (2.80). This season the team has the 16th best GAA (2.79) and the 14th best save percentage (91.1%). (Ed. note: I know that the goaltenders were not to blame for the Senators' slow start. Porous play, injuries and personnel problems have played a significant role. )
Would any money spent on an injury-riddled Leclaire not be better served reallocating the payroll up front and improving the team's talent up front? Obviously there will be questions as to whether or not Lehner is ready for the NHL-level but at last summer's market shows, it's not difficult to find a capable veteran backup for cheap in FA. Personally, I'd rather roll the dice on an Elliott/Lehner tandem than risk overpaying some veteran who will likely box the goaltender of the future out of a job for a few seasons. Could it possibly be that much worse than the current duo has performed for the past season or so?
Undoubtedly, some will suggest that signing a big name free agent goaltender is the route to take. But because of some recent trends, some sabermetric hockey analysts have questioned how worthwhile it is to sign allocate so much cap space to a franchise goalie.
“We should celebrate our business achievements and feel good about it.”
Smith’s comments are reflective of a mindset that affects the city in its entirety. From its businessmen/women to its sports fans, Ottawa has maintained its reputation as a city that only supports entities when they’re winning or it’s the in-thing to do.
Admittedly, when it comes to the Senators, I haven’t exactly been one to tow the company line and talk about how easy it is to get excited about the current state of the on-ice product. It is this kind of rambling that caused one reader in particular to spend 57 minutes and 30 seconds browsing the website before finally abhorring my behaviour in a few comment threads - declaring me as a disgrace to Senators fans everywhere.
I have gone on the record a few times stating that I’m already looking forward to the 2011 offseason when Bryan Murray’s contract is up and $15-million in cap space will be created on July 1st. Yet, despite these interesting offseason developments that should generate some genuine buzz in this city, I find myself asking questions like: When is the last time a team significantly improved their team without hamstringing their budget for the foreseeable future? Why would an upper echelon player want to sign in a cold climate, hockey-starved city where media members ask Daniel Alfredsson whether or not he’d be open to a trade? When will the Senators start targeting young players who are entering their primes instead of these old veterans who have already peaked? What if management cannot lure the top free agent talent here? Do we have to settle for some Plan-B’s, like Kovalev was two offseasons ago?
Whatever the scenario, it’s almost like there’s this polarizing dynamic with this team. As Jeremy Milks wrote in a well-written piece for Senators Extra, the only solution to fan disquiet seems to be winning hockey, but with this Senators team aging quickly and lacking bona fide forward prospects for the future, will locals still find the urge to open their wallets and their hearts for a team that will likely be fighting for a playoff spot for a handful of years?
Wherever you may want to place the blame, fans haven’t been lining up with the same level of enthusiasm to pay for tickets. Take the marquee game against the San Jose Sharks for example. Individual game tickets went on sale Saturday morning at 10 am and even with the enticement of a vitriolic atmosphere for Dany Heatley’s return to the nation’s capital, I was still able to buy a block of 8 tickets late on Sunday night. As far as I know, the game hasn’t sold out yet. Come on Sens fans, scoop up those remaining tickets and tell them that Sens Chirp referred you!
Now that the game is less than a month away, it may be a good time to start rallying the Sens Army for ideas on how to rip Dany Heatley properly. (Especially when you consider that the trade return for him has been reduced to a banged up Milan Michalek, a bought out Jonathan Cheechoo and an Andy Sutton rental.) To help fuel some discussion in the comment thread, maybe we can create a list of good Heatley quips that can be used on signage at his return.
Pierre McGuire Jesus Takes the Wheel Contest:
On Saturday morning, I announced that The 6th Sens would be featuring a contest to give away two pairs of tickets to Tuesday night's game against the Atlanta Thrashers. Here's the historical moment that inspired its creation:
The contest was simple. To create a PhotoShop, MS Paint or even a hand-drawn picture that depicted Pierre McGuire riding shotgun in a car driven by Jesus. Here are the two contest winners:
Thanks for all of the submissions and congrats to these two for winning. In the future, I'd like to encourage all readers to send in emails, PhotoShopped images, stories, opinions and jokes.
Thanks to Ottawa Magazine and its staff for featuring The 6th Sens in its November issue. It’s available on newsstands today. I think there's even a featured glamour shot of me in the print version. So pick it up!
According to the Team 1200's Scott MacArthur (@ScottMacArthur), Zach Smith has been recalled from the Binghamton Senators for tonight's game in Montreal. Because of the major boarding penalty that helped limit Smith's ice-time to almost 8 and a half minutes against the Islanders, the demotion allowed Smith to get some valuable playing time for one night only. So if you're at home trying to figure out what management is doing, try not to read too much into it. It was simply a headsy, proactive move by the organization to take full advantage of a scheduling perk that would have Smith play Montreal's farm team at the Bell Centre and re-join his Ottawa teammates the next day.
So the Islanders came through town and nary a word was mentioned about Don Brennan's mancrush, Zenon Konopka. Well, we now know where these words went and they're available to the public over at Off the Posts.
The Euge has officially filed to appeal the Ontario Securities Commission's ruling that his conduct as Biovail's CEO in 2003 was contrary to public interest.
Word has it that Shean Donovan walked away from his PTO with the Syracuse Crunch.
Here's a screenshot of his latest stats with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL...the San Jose Shark's AHL affiliate.
Click this bar to view the small image
Is it just me, or does it look like Cheechoo might be playing for the sharks very soon? Am I just panicking too quickly?
Free Tickets For the Tuesday Night's Thrashers Game:
Recently, The 6th Sens was approached by the Ottawa Senators to help create awareness for their affordable ticket packages because their research indicates that some fans don't really know too much about these ticket promotions. In exchange, I will be afforded the opportunity to give out some tickets over the next few weeks starting with two pairs of Coca-Cola Zero Zone tickets to give away for the Tuesday, November 9th game against the Atlanta Thrashers. (Note: The puck drops at 7:30pm and alcohol is prohibited in this ticket area.)
Located in sections 314, 315 and 316 of the visitors' end, tickets for the Coca-Cola Zero Zone start for as low as $15 and offer an affordable way for fans to see some live NHL action.
So how do your paws these tickets?
Well, on Thursday night, Pierre McGuire expressed his adoration of Carrie Underwood's song Jesus Take the Wheel. So what I want fans to do is submit a MS Paint photo, a Photoshop edit, hand-drawn picture or whatever that depicts Pierre riding shotgun in a car driven by Jesus.
Get creative and email them to
. Winners will be contacted via email.
Sometimes it's easier to see the individual trees than it is to take a step back and look at the forest. Ottawa deserves some credit, they've now won 5 of their last 7 and are now .500 in games that ended in regulation. (Ed. note: 6-6-1 overall). Being average has never felt so good!
Albeit, Ottawa has taken advantage of a pretty favorable schedule of late:
- Won 4-2 in a game that they almost let slip away. - Won 5-2 over a Phoenix Coyotes team that was playing their 3rd game in 4 nights - Won 5-3 over the Florida Panthers - a team that Don Brennan described as the worst in the NHL - Won 3-2 over a hapless Toronto team that had gone 167 minutes and 39 seconds without scoring a goal. It was the longest team drought since 1927. - Won 4-1 over a gassed Islanders team.
Before I get into some random thoughts from tonight's game, here's a post-game haiku:
The Isles looked damn tired. Ottawa took advantage. .500? (Fist pump).
Recently, I was approached the MLX Skates company to review, test and keep a pair of their skates. And as a website that caters itself to the impassioned hockey market that is Ottawa, I figured I would be doing you all a disservice if I turned down this opportunity. (You can thank me later.)
I'll give you a little insight into the company first. MLX was founded by former speed skating Olympian Dave Cruikshank. When his speed skating career ended, he embarked upon a new path: to train hockey players to be faster and more efficient with their energy. After working with a number of players, Cruikshank noticed that the skate technology was lacking and not allowing players to play to their potential. By creating the MLX brand, Cruikshank was hoping to marry the comfort, maneuverability and performance of a speed skate with the protection and durability of a hockey skate. While Mario Lemieux is unquestionably the biggest name to endorse the product, a number of current NHL players wear the skates -- including two of the Ottawa Senators, Sergei Gonchar and Daniel Alfredsson. (Ed. note: to see some of the pros who are wearing the skates, click here.)
But like the Double-Rainbow guy asked, "What does it all mean?"
Well, the company has broken away from the traditional use of leather and plastic by developing a skate boot that makes use of aircraft-grade composite materials. Bringing it more in line with how the advancement of speed skate technology has gone. According to the MLX website, their skates and their junior hockey skatesfeature a heat moldable thermoplastic in the boot, where typical other hockey skates do not have this. The thermoplastic, when heated, is pliable, and that is what allows the athlete to make the skate fit their feet. From the sounds of it, this composite material offers superior protection and superior ankle and arch support. Considering that I have had some issues in the past in regarding my right ankle, I'm intrigued to see how much improvement these skates can offer over my current pair. (Ed. note: Here's hoping that I don't have to find out how punishment this skate can absorb.)
The first time that I will get to test out the product is this Thursday, so stay tuned for a full review in the coming week(s). In the meantime, do yourself a favour and check out the MLX Skates website and their YouTube Channel.