In a summer that has been rife with speculation concerning Eugene Melnyk’s financial wherewithal and what impacts a strict internal budget could have on this organization moving forward, it was hardly surprising to see another individual lob a grenade in Melnyk’s direction this weekend.
Hockey is almost here...
Today the Ottawa Senators released their 26-man rookie camp roster, slated to open on September 4th. Once camp breaks, the Senators will travel to London, Ontario and participate in a three-game tournament against the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
All of the games will be played at Budweiser Gardens (the former John Labatt Centre) and tickets apparently are still available. Coupled with the fact that university students will be returning to Western University (I still don’t feel comfortable not calling it the University of Western Ontario), it’s a good opportunity for young 20-year olds to make a go of it.
If you can’t make it London for the tourney, you will still have a chance to watch a number of Ottawa’s prospects play.
After a one-year absence created in part by the effects of the NHL lockout, the Senators also announced today that Luke Richardson’s Binghamton Senators will play at the Canadian Tire Centre on February 8th, 2014 to take on Montreal’s affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Here is Ottawa’s roster:no comments
Most colleges do their best to shirk inclusion on lists like America's Best Party Schools, so it's refreshing to see Ohio State embrace who they are.no comments
Mainly due to injuries last season, the Sens were able to find regular spots for rookies Cory Conacher (acquired for rookie Ben Bishop), Robin Lehner, Jakob Silfverberg, Eric Gryba, Mika Zibanejad, Patrick Wiercioch and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, all of whom played much better than most expected. The biggest surprise of them all was Pageau, a hero for all times in the playoffs despite mostly playing on the third line in Binghamton and nearly opening the season in 2012/13 season in the ECHL.
With a farm system that still has a fair share of talent, here are some of the better candidates with a shot to solidify themselves as NHL regulars this season.no comments
Alfredsson out at Sensplex in a Sens sweater pic.twitter.com/fo6LTrQpuT— Allen Panzeri (@allenpanzeri2) August 19, 2013
I guess this is supposed to qualify as news, but Daniel Alfredsson apparently skated today wearing one of his old Senators-issued practice jerseys.
After what can only be described as a tumultuous four weeks from a public relations standpoint, you can understand why today’s event may stick in the craw of fans who can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that Alfie has moved on.
But, for those of you fans, look at the bright side, you may not be alone. Maybe Alfie hasn’t come to terms with it either!
Okay, so he probably has, but that won’t stop fans from questioning Alfie’s intent or his obliviousness to the consequences of wearing some Sens swag post-July 5th.
I can’t say with any certainty when the Red Wings would issue Alfie gear prior to the start of training camp, but it’s unquestionably a poor decision on Alfie’s part; especially since he seemingly had won the PR battle in the aftermath of last Thursday’s press conference at the Royal Ottawa Hospital.
He’s either trolling the Senators organization by sending a message, or he simply didn’t care because it was an informal skate during the offseason with some former colleagues. Sure, I suppose it could have been worse. He could have simply worn a Leafs jersey; Although the biggest loser in all this is could be Chris Phillips - who couldn't convince Alfie to sport a Big Rig jersey and take advantage of some free publicity.
But if you're one of those people looking for the positive here, we did get to see Alfie don the centurion one last time. Following the events July 5th, who could have imagined that?no comments
Never one to pass up an opportunity to get his word in, Eugene Melnyk spoke to TSN today and blamed JP Barry for orchestrating Alfie's departure.
"For anyone to even suggest the remote possibility that Bryan Murray is not fully honest in his clear recollection of events should be ashamed of themselves. I point the finger squarely on JP Barry, the man who blessed us with the (Dany) Heatley mess."
Sweet ad hominem attack, Eugene. Way to put the past behind you and basically confirm that Elliotte Friedman speculation that the personal grudge leftover from the Heatley saga still exists.
Melnyk wasn't done however.
"If you want to play the blame game - that is where you should be looking. I have a lot of respect for Daniel. I simply think he was not told the whole story or worse, was lied to. I won't be commenting on this again. We are busy and have a Stanley Cup to win."
And if you don't believe that, you can strap a bomb to yourself and blow yourself up.
If people want something to blame, point to money and ego.
The problem was that Alfie believed he took a disount on the last year of his last contract and then decided to play at least one more year. Having offered Alfie $4.5M against the player's request for one-year, $7M or two-years and $12M, it was foolish to think Alfie and JP Barry would negotiate against themselves.no comments
Daniel Alfredsson never ceases to amaze.
Weeks after admitting to the world that he selfishly left the only NHL franchise he had known for a better opportunity to chase a Stanley Cup, Alfie took the stage shortly after 11:00 am this morning and delivered a broadside blow to the Senators organization worthy of his hit on Darcy Tucker.
For fans expecting more of the same canned answers, this was not that.
If anything, today was a lesson in PR mastery. From scheduling at the Royal Ottawa Hospital – where Alfredsson did a lot of charitable work to raise the profile of mental health – to having Alfie walk into the press conference with a prepared speech in one hand and his wife’s hand in his other, and a box of Kleenex placed on the podium moments before Alfie opened his mouth.
(As an aside, as much as people may feel compelled to shit on Alfie for using the Royal Ottawa as a venue and possibly using it as a shield, much in the same way that Barry Bonds used to sit his son on his lap while conducting press conferences, there's something to be said about using this instance to bring more attention to mental health awareness. It's a worthy cause that is deserving of more attention.)
And then Alfie spoke, he led with formaltiies; thanking the Royal, the city, the fans. All the stuff one would expect. When things turned to hockey a few minutes later we learned his decision to leave wasn’t about having a better chance to win the cup at all.no comments
According to his agent Wade Arnott (via SenatorsExtra), Ottawa has signed RFA Stephane Da Costa to a one-year contract leaving defenceman Jared Cowen as their lone remaining unsigned player.
Terms of the deal have yet to be released publicly, nor have they been revealed on the essential Capgeek, but it stands to reason that Da Costa will have inked a two-way contract.
The once highly sought after collegiate product arrived in the Senators organization with a lot of fanfare. The combination of: 1) an Ottawa system that hadn’t really peaked in terms of developing NHL-ready prospects; 2) a management group that had a strong track record for finding late-developing UFA collegiate prospects (especially from their time in Anaheim); and 3) the widespread NHL interest in acquiring Da Costa’s rights, created a situation in which expectations for the center were higher than they probably should have been.no comments
Bryan Murray has been around this game long enough to understand how to approach and diffuse a situation, and in consideration of the public flack the Senators have received in the wake of Eugene Melnyk’s comments to the Ottawa Citizen, it shouldn't be surprising to see the organisation try to get ahead of the curve prior to Daniel Alfredsson speaking with the local media on Thursday.
Speaking with Arpon Basu of NHL.com, the Senators’ GM did his best to deflect attention away from the owner’s comments which flatly stated that the organization could not afford to absorb the salaries of both Bobby Ryan and Daniel Alfredsson - this was a binary choice, one or the other. (Which, you know, many thought conflicted with Murray’s previous statement that he tried to entice Alfie by mentioning that he thought he could bring Ryan into the fold.)
"I think Eugene's being a little hard on himself in that scenario. We had talked about a way of doing Alfie's contract and still making the trade for Bobby Ryan, both financially and in terms of player return for [the Anaheim Ducks]."
Now the immediate kneejerk reaction for some will be to claim bullshit, but Murray isn’t necessarily avoiding the truth here.no comments
Late Friday, James Gordon had a story wherein Eugene Melnyk stated the Senators could not have added Bobby Ryan had they re-signed Alfie.
“To come up with the kind of money they were talking about and being fiscally responsible and ensuring the ongoing success of the organization, we knew we needed to add a Bobby Ryan-type player. And at the end, when I said blank cheque, that would have meant we would not have gotten the (Bobby Ryan-type player). Couldn’t afford it. Just couldn’t do it.”
This isn’t about the player, the organization or its fans having to move on.
From a hockey perspective, letting Alfie go to pursue a better player in Ryan is completely defensible and on some level, it’s encouraging to see management make a difficult and potentially unpopular decision. At times in the past, it wasn’t always like this. Good PR was always part of the equation.
But ultimately, this Alfie decision is important because it will make fans more critically aware of the internal budget and the limitations it has.
Melnyk also expressed his level of comfort with the way that things turned out.
“I’m definitely OK with the way things happened. You can’t turn back the clock. Look, we play as a team, and no one single player supersedes the betterment of the whole team.”
But if this organization struggles to retain its current talent or cannot supplement its roster to give the players their best chance to contend moving forward, the fans are eventually going to feel cheated. Hell, it’s already annoying enough to repeatedly listen to or read the conflicting statements between Melnyk and management.no comments