Tonight 'The Senator' was revealed as the 24th NHL Guardian. If you're not familiar with the NHL's Guardian Project, is a platform created by comic book legend Stan Lee that has created 30 superheroes (one for each respective NHL team) as part of some glorious marketing campaign that is designed to attract new fans. (Don't ask me how.) Anyways, here's the description of 'The Senator':
The Senator is a descendent of the Roman God Jupiter (the God of Thunder), who is the father of Mars, who in turn, is the father of Romulus and Remus (the legendary founders of Rome). The Senator loves action and could never subject himself to a life without risk.
As a young man he sold himself into slavery in order to join the ranks of the gladiators. He became the most feared gladiator of the Roman Empire and his bravery is what allowed him to become a Centurion and later a member of the Senate. His skills as a leader were unequalled and the Roman people often referred to him as THE Senator, even though he was obviously one of many, and is the reason for the Guardian name he takes today. He has managed to keep himself alive for over 2,000 years making him the oldest of the Guardians.
Meh. I suppose it's better than being a tree and in terms of inspiration, it's not like the bar has been set high...
A few days ago, Cory Clouston's job security was allegedly hanging by a thread. Now, it no longer matters; even though the Senators have only won one game in the January or that they have been outscored 47-17 during that stretch.
Thanks to Eugene Melnyk's exclusive interview with the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch, we now know that his conspicuous silence is attributed to him working on a plan - one that is now in motion. Although it’s nice to hear that The Euge is working on a plan that doesn’t involve deciding which variety of citrus fruit he will use to garnish his alcoholic beverages.
What we do know is that a decision has been made to keep Clouston and Bryan Murray in their capacities until their contracts expire at the end of this season. Having Clouston and Murray remain with the organization not only makes sense from a financial perspective but it also allows the Senators to pick from a larger (better) pool of candidates in the offseason. Aside from Pierre McGuire (who apparently poo-poo’d the rumours that he has talked to the organization about the GM gig), the availability of candidates is limited exclusively to failed retreads like Doug MacLean, Mike Milbury and Darryl Sutter since other NHL organizations will be hesitant to let members of their front offices to leave at such a critical juncture of the season.
So while the Ottawa Sun exclusive only revealed that Clouston and Murray would stick around for the rest of the season, the Globe and Mail's, Roy MacGregor discussed some alleged details of The Euge’s plan, like:
General manager Bryan Murray will finish out the year in his position but will move on to a senior advisory role similar to that held by coaching legend Scotty Bowman with the Chicago Blackhawks. Murray, who stayed on this season at Melnyk’s request, is open to this change as friends say the results of this season have left him “sickened.”
Although it is worth noting that Colorado has had some success retooling once former GM Pierre Lacroix vacated his position in a similar fashion, the notion of Murray remaining in an advisory capacity will strike some discord with those who would like to see the organization rid itself of the Murrays and get away from the management team that has helped contribute to the situation that the team is currently in.
If the franchise really did solicit some key members of its fan base and corporate support and subsequently concluded that disgruntled fans are eager for a shift in direction. (My survey must have got lost in the mail.) It's a position that indicates that many paying customers are already sick of the status quo. So hearing that Murray this advisory position is fabricated information and that Murray is interested in retaining his job is a bit of a twist...
"I wish Roy (MacGregor) was here. I really do. And Wayne (Scanlan). The people who seem to almost take a personal attack in the way that they've written their articles. I have no problem answering those questions. I know as a normal general manager, that I hope to retain my job by having a conversation. I'm not sure why everybody is in such a hurry to get me out of here but If that's the way it is, that's the way it is. However, we do have an awfully good group coming. I told the players this morning, when they (the media) attack me or Cory, they're really attacking the players because they in a couple of cases, were very, very good players elsewhere and came here and haven't performed to the level that we thought they would perform to. A couple were injuries: Michalek had the knee; Alex had the knee; we talked about Leclaire so we know that there has to be some thought about what we're doing in the future. I've answered the question as far as the changes or the opportunity to make changes in the team but beyond that, I don't know where that all came from. I talk to Eugene somewhat regularly. We've talked about where we are, how disappointed we are in the year and we'll try and do somethings that are positive going forward but if Roy knows something more than that, you'll have to ask him."
When asked how long he anticipates this can be turned around, Murray responded by saying, "I hope tomorrow night. I really do. I don't think we're very far from being a good hockey team. Obviously you have to make some changes when you perform the way that we did. But I think it's one year. I think we can be back and be a really competitive team really quickly. Young kids take a little bit of time to grow but there are some guys who can step in and be pretty good players in the NHL right away.
Cowen very definitely in our opinion will play and be a good player next year. He's not going to be a point getter, he's going to be the defensive defenceman. Young, make the odd mistake early but by December should be a good regular player in the NHL. Rundblad will come in and play right away. Again, he's bigger than Erik. He's somewhat skilled like Erik. He sees the ice. If you watched the World Juniors at all, he played with Karlsson on the same team under Anders Forsberg. He's the priority player there. Karlsson's a pretty good player, he got drafted very, very high and stepped in and played in the NHL next year and be a good player. We think Rundblad's there or better right now. Patrick (Wiercioch) is playing but not a priority player in Binghamton right now. We wish that he would play a little bit more. He probably will be a better NHL player than an AHL player just because of his style and his body build right now. A year from now however, I think if Patrick is 10lbs heavier and a little stronger, which I believe he will be over the summer, that he'll be a real contender for a spot here next year.
(Gryba) is really one of the most improved players down there. He's huge. His skating and positioning defensively was a little bit of a question earlier in the year but he's really made great strides. We've very happy with Eric. Again, all of them can't play next year. We just can't have that many rookies on our team but he will be a NHL player.
Well we have Greening, who has really made, again, big strides. The one thing that we were really concerned with Colin was that he was big and could really skate but never really got involved physically. Now he's fighting down there. It's almost like he's looking to do it more often because we've kind of encouraged that. He's playing much better. Again, we hope that he's one of the people who we can bring up and give him some exposure so that when he goes back for the summer, he's excited about what he can do in the fall for the NHL team. He's one guy, Condra... other than skating, this is a good player. He's one of the other guys I'd like to give a look to simply because it appears his head and hands, he gets points, he makes the players that he plays with better... so we'd like to give him a game before it's over too."
Surprisingly, no one in the media had the stones to ask Murray whether it was reasonable to assume that the organization could rebound so quickly, especially when it appears willing to absorb the short term losses for future gains by moving a veteran players like Chris Phillips, who play significant minutes, and replace them with rookies like like Cowen, Rundblad or Lehner. You'd imagine that a GM who banked so heavily on significant production from young but more experienced players like Regin and Foligno would realize this.
Granted, there are a number of players who may be close to NHL ready but on paper, you're looking at an abundance of third and fourth line calibre players who are on the cusp. Considering that it has been Ottawa's third and fourth line guys who have essentially carried the ball this season, I'm hoping that you the readers will be able to understand my scepticism that their promotions should translate into a better team next season.
Hilariously, after scorning MacGregor and Scanlan earlier in the scrum, Murray wasn't done. When discussing free agency as a potential avenue to acquire another forward, Murray sarcastically offered this gem, "We don't have enough (up front) right now, but we'd like to find one in the draft or... I'm afraid to mention free agency with you guys because obviously, we overspend every time. We might have to go and find one more forward at the end of the day in July when free agency opens up."
It's not that you overspent Bryan, no one should have a problem with you ponying up the cash to bring in a free agent or two. The problem is that he brought in past their prime veterans who were counted upon to help shoulder the burden and compliment the core group of players. Unfortunately, the core players on this team simply aren't good enough to mask the faults that Gonchar and Kovalev have.
While all of this was breaking today and I was providing some commentary via Twitter, @fisher12fan tweeted, u really hate Murray with a Passion enh?
It has nothing to do with hating Murray. If you're familiar with this website or my opinions, you'll come to the realization that I have defended him on a variety of occasions and especially early on in his tenure. My problem with Murray lies in his repeated deflection of blame, whether it's towards the media, injuries, the previous regime or the cap era. Like in today's scrum, I have yet to see him or his staff take ownership for mistakes and say that they will work towards remedying them (even if it means taking a short term loss for future gain). Looking back on his tenure, I think you will notice that many of his trades were reactive (not proactive) and that has contributed largely to an underachieving/overpaid core of players that he is incredibly loyal to because he coached these same players during the '07 Cup Finals appearance.
Because of comments about dipping into free agency, expectations of this team's young players and a one year rebuild, I have some serious doubts that he has the willingness and savvy to make the difficult decisions regarding this team's core and for that reason, I would love to see a fresh face who has fresh ideas and no attachment to the bulk of this roster. http://bloguinpro.com/the6thsens/administrator/index.php?option=com_content&task=add
I'm sick of the quick fix.
Other Noteworthy Things:
- "I did not put a claim in on him (Nabokov). I didn't think that was a right way to go with the position that we are in right now and I think he's shown why. Rather than claim him, we get some information ahead of time. He wanted to report to a playoff team, to a team like Detroit, that was very serious about the Cup. He didn't want to go elsewhere. The other thing that I thought that I had was claim him and trade him back to Detroit to get a pick but the league rules prevent against that from happening. He had to go back on the waiver wire and could be claimed by anybody. So there was no benefit other than we would have had to pay a fee to pick him up, so I didn't do it in that way."
- "Mike Fisher doesn't have a no-movement clause. I have talked to players but I don't think I should go there." (Note: From Brent Wallace's Twitter @tsn_wally, Fisher has a limited no-move clause. He can provide a list of teams he doesn't want to be traded to but he has not be asked to submit a list.)
- Murray on the subject of injuries, "Milan's just starting to play. He's been playing for 2-3 weeks now where he's back to where he's playing like the hockey player that he is. We've had Fisher hurt for a period of time. We've had Spezza out for a period of time. Alfie's been hurting for quite some time and Leclaire..." I guess this helps explain why Alfie's monthly production has gone from 12 points in October to 6 to 5 and to 5 in January.
- Neate Sager of Buzzing the Net (@neatebuzzthenet) says that the Oilers have a greater interest in Swedish defenceman than they do in Ryan Nugent Hopkins. Great news for Sens fans who want to see the organization land either of RNH or Gabriel Landeskog.
- Elliotte Friedman has included Ron Hextall (Los Angeles) and Julien Brisebois (Tampa Bay) on the list of potential GM candidates. He also mentions Dallas as a possible trade destination for Brian Elliott.
- In an interview on The Healthy Scratches, Eugene Melnyk indicated that there are two untouchables on the Senators roster. One was unnamed (Karlsson?) the other was Alfie. Bryan Murray also appeared on their show although much of what he said was a reiteration of this morning's scrum.
Less than twenty-four hours after the Ottawa Citizen's Wayne Scanlan wrote that it was time for The Euge to break his silence, the Senators owner came out gave an exclusive interview to the Ottawa Sun about the current state of the Ottawa Senators. (Surprise, surprise.) While I will get around to discussing the comments that The Euge has made sometime tomorrow, in the meantime, you can listen to the latest episode that features in interview with Wayne Scanlan. (Note: You can follow Wayne on Twitter @HockeyScanner.)
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: Big Boi Shutterbugg; Phantogram Futuristic Casket; LCD Soundsystem All My Friends; and Bear Hands What A Day.
With tonight's 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, Sportsclubstats.com has determined that there is a 0.0% chance that the Senators will make the playoffs? (Jim Mora: "Playoffs?!?!) To even have a chance at cracking the magical 94-point threshold that has become synonymous with a playoff berth threshold, the Senators would have to go 25-6-3 down the stretch.
Let's wallow in self-pity for a few moments before we invest a slew of faith in the Murray family tree to sort as much of this shit out before someone credible takes over in the offseason.
Lose big to Flyers.
Clouston to get the axe? Ha!
Just another loss.no comments
Over the course of the past few weeks, The 6th Sens run a series of items examining a list of prospective general manager candidates to fill the vacant GM position here in Ottawa once Bryan Murray's tenure ends. Names like Paul Fenton, Craig Billington and Pierre McGuire have been strewn about and thanks to the marvelous social tool known as Twitter, I was flattered when one of my favorite bloggers, The Tao of Stieb, offered to write a piece on why Jarmo Kekalainen is the right man for the job.
For those who are unfamiliar with Tao's work, he lives in Ottawa and is the author of the popular Toronto Blue Jays blog of the same name. If you're a Jays fan, no, scratch that - if you're a baseball fan, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not parouse his site. On behalf of everyone at The 6th Sens, thank you Tao for your Jarmo! contribution and readers, if you haven't already, please check out The Tao of Stieb and follow the Tao on Twitter (@TaoofStieb).
Now, without further ado, here is his guest post...
Bring back Jarmo!
Let’s clear this up from the get-go. We really want to make an undisputable argument that the only candidate for the Senators’ presumably-soon-to-be-vacant GM position is Jarmo Kekalainen. But, to be fair, we should also make clear that our ability to actually assess his track record is dubious at best.
A one-time Senator (28 games and one goal in 1993-94), Kekalainen went on to serve as a European scout for the team following his career, ascending the ranks quickly to head scout and eventually Director of Player Personnel to a rapid succession of GMs in the early 2000’s.
It was in his time with the Sens that some unconventional picks turned into stars or, at the very least, significant contributors. Marty Havlat’s selection, for instance, stunned the local boys at what was then Ottawa Sports Radio, who clearly had no info sheet on the player and no possible angle to analyze the pick. As it turned out, only two players from that draft (2nd overall Daniel Sedin and 210th overall Henrik Zetterberg) have gone on to score more goals over the past decade then Havlat.
He’s also been credited with pushing for a fifth round selection of Magnus Arvedsson (a +102 over his six seasons in Ottawa), Andreas Dackell (a sixth rounder who was a big part of those first contenders), Chris Kelly (smart hockey from a third rounder!), Karel Rachunek (a flyer in the ninth round who played a ton of minutes for good teams), and Anton Volchenckov.
(It’s an odd addendum, but worth noting that Kekalainen’s reputation - such as it is - around Ottawa was built from the effusive praise heaped upon him by putative GM candidate Pierre McGuire in his daily call in to the morning yahoos at the Team 1200. In and amongst the heeing and hawing and braying of the Three Guys, McGuire would emphasize the importance of Kekalainen’s contribution to the franchise, even as the team moved from Pierre Gauthier to Rick Dudley to Marshall Johnston to John Muckler in rapid succession.)
Since leaving the Senators for a more plush job (Assistant GM and Head of Amateur Scouting) with the Blues, Kekalainen has continued to burnish his reputation with astute picks such as David Backes, T.J. Oshie and David Perron, Patrik Berglund and Lars Eller. By putting clear-eyed talent assessment ahead of axiomatic nonsense, Jarmo! has made the most of his team’s later picks, and shown a willingness to look beyond the orthodoxy of the hockeyocracy.
As we noted off the top, we may have created Kekalainen as some sort of avatar for our deep-seeded belief in the need for a new management model for the Sens in particular, and hockey in general. (And as if to prove our point, we mentioned our Jarmo Love to a friend recently, who shot it down with an Alpo Suhonen witticism. As though there can never be another European in any position of authority because one guy failed. If geography were truly destiny, wouldn’t there be more of a clampdown on all of the Kingston boys running hockey teams hither and yon?)
Jarmo – the Jarmo we hold in our mind’s eye - is definitely not local, and for us, that might be the most salient point in his favour. He wouldn’t find himself pulled into heartwarming signings of local boys, because as an evaluator of tangible on-ice talent and performance, he could care less if someone’s nana was going to be able to speak to Gord Wilson, or put a lump in Roy McGregor’s throat.
Nor would he feel any great compulsion to give overly generous contract renewals to marginal players with an excellent attendance record at charity events.
Jarmo Kekalainen has come to represent something different to us. And different, in this case, would seem to be good. Because the last goddamned thing we need around here is another Dougie or Gordie effing our team up with aphoristic epigrams about what hockey is and how “you gotta” this and “you can’t ever” that.
Bring on the change. Bring us the Finn. Bring back Jarmo!
Yesterday I received an email from the Senators organization that discussed Regin's involvement with the “I Love To Skate” program that teaches young disadvantaged children how to skate. It's nice to see that the Senators are finding a way to keep Regin occupied while he's not in the lineup.
Now it looks as though Regin is going to have to get used to being out of the lineup for a little while longer. The latest word (Tweets?) from Senators practice indicate that Peter Regin will be a healthy scratch for tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Instead, Cory Clouston has opted to go with 11 forwards and 7 defenceman for the second consecutive game.
It's been a trying season for Regin. Often, as is the case with Regin, fans and media expect some linear progression when it comes to offensive production. With one goal and ten assists to his credit thus far, his production has failed to live up to the lofty and somewhat unfair expectations that were created following his strong playoff performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins last spring.
At the risk of sounding like a Regin apologist, I'd prefer to see him in the lineup and want him to do well. Even though his production has been limited, he still represents one of the few players forwards who is young and has some semblance of offensive flair. Besides, I still think there's some upside there.
I don't want to make excuses for a player whose production has been Muckaltian but it's all too easy to shit on Regin because his production is down and it's even easier to ignore the fact that he's predominantly spent the bulk of the season playing fourth line minutes with fourth liners or has been saddled alongside Alexei Kovalev.
It wasn't too long ago that Cory Clouston was concerned about Kovalev's teammates because “They’re the ones out there working with him and playing with him. Sometimes they don’t know which guy is going to show up."
Anyways, I digress. I don't want to sit here and write another piece detailing why I think that Regin should be in the lineup, I'd rather spend the next few sentences understanding why he isn't.
In the past few weeks, Clouston has implemented a win and you stay in strategy in regards to who stays in the lineup. Obviously having lost to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night, the Senators didn't win their last game. So why is an offensively challenged team like the Senators opting to dress 7 defencemen?
I think it probably has something to do with showcasing all of their defenceman as potential trade targets. We have already heard or have read a number of rumours that indicate that names like Lee, Kuba, Phillips and or Gonchar may be available.
A Revionist Thought on the Kuba Trade
At the time that the deal was made, I was never a big proponent of the Filip Kuba trade to begin with. Looking at it now and understanding how god awful Kuba has been, I hate it even more. I just never understood the principle behind making the deal. If a bad team like Tampa Bay was threatening to offer sheet Meszaros and signed him to the $4-million per season contract that he currently has, Ottawa would have received a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick in return.
Assuming that Tampa was not merely bluffing (they did after all re-acquire the third round pick that they dealt to Pittsburgh for Ryan Malone's free agent negotiation rights) I'm not saying that Ottawa would have been able to get the 2nd overall pick and draft a guy like Hedman, but holy shit, had Bryan Murray ignored the short term trade fix... how much further would this team be ahead if they had two of those top 10 picks?
A Passing Thought on the Murray GM Tandem Moving Forward
No matter the number of games that Ottawa loses, fans of this team are trapped in hockey purgatory.
The Senators have been anemic but no changes are on the horizon.
Fire Cory Clouston? If it is designed to give this team a spark, it's a little too late for that. Unless Bryan Murray is accompanying him out that door or is prepared to step back behind that bench, he probably isn't going anywhere.
Fire Bryan Murray? Without any qualified and available GM candidates, it'd be difficult to entrust any interim GM to handle such a crucial stretch heading into the NHL Trade Deadline and Entry Draft.
So that being said, assuming that Murray can make some difficult decisions and can procure a bounty of prospects/draft picks for some of Ottawa's veteran players, how much would that affect your perception of the Murray management team? Can these two adapt to a philosophical change in direction? Would a productive NHL Deadline, give you confidence in the Murrays? Could Tim Murray be the successor? Would the fans revolt regardless?
I received the following from a user from the popular HFBroads Senators forum. The picture features the Penguins' NHL Guardian Project super hero alongside his trusty sidekick.
I wouldn't have a problem with Alfie being traded to a Cup contender if he was a UFA and if he was on board, and IF they committed to resign him to play, or in the organization after the season. He needs to retire a Senator. If they traded him now with 2 or three more years left, he would not be coming back, family moving away, etc. The fact is that when they signed his last extension, they all but said it was a retirement contract and that he would be a Senator for life. There could not be a return that would make up for his loss. ~ Cup Run Scott
I can think of a number of trade possibilities that would make up for Alfie's loss. All are completely unrealistic.
First off, Eklund is an idiot just thought I'd cement that some more. As for Alfie, if he went to Murray today and asked for a trade to a contender I will have absolutely no problem with it, he's a great player who has done so much for this team and city and deserves another crack at the Cup. I'd even cheer for him to win the Cup with the Flyers and Capitals even though I really hope it's more Red Wings or Canucks. On the other hand, I will absolutely not accept Murray to go to Alfie and suggesting a trade. I find so many people dislike Bourque because he went after the Cup, I personally have no problem with it and if Alfie wants the Cup he has every right to chase it elsewhere. As for the return, it would have to depend on the team and what kind of prospects they have in their system. ~ Dew
The easiest way to get something published at The 6th Sens is to refer to Eklund as an idiot in the first sentence of an email.
Of all the players on the team with NTC's, I find it funny that Alfie doesn't have one (or does he). And as much as it'll hurt to see him play with another team, I would do it. But if Ottawa trades Alfie, then the rest of core needs to go as well. There's no way this team can justify rebuilding by trading Alfredsson and keeping the current core intact. If Alfie goes, then Fisher and Phillips need to go as well. I know Spezza's contract makes him hard to move, but if there's an offer on the table that looks good, then the Sens should take it. Blow up, start all over, and build a new franchise. ~ Crooklyn Banks
Personally I would be bothered by a trade. Alfie has been such a huge part of our team for such a long time, I can't imagine us without him. He may not be Crosby or Ovechkin but he has been a great captain and I really, really, REALLY would not want to see him go. With that said, I think Alfie deserves the Cup more than anyone right now, and if that means him going to another team....then I guess I would be okay with it. I would love for him to win the Cup with us, but let's face it, that's NOT happening. Basically if the team has a REALLY good chance at winning the Cup soon, and that's what he wants, than he deserves it. It's like Ray Bourque, it was amazing to see him lift the Cup and I would give anything to see Alfie do the same. ~ ChantelA few days before Mark Sutcliffe, of the Ottawa Citizen, published a look at how little bang for the buck the Sens were getting, a reader named Ike sent me an email that determined how much money Ottawa was spending in correlation to their projected point totals. At the time, I promised the reader that I would publish his email. Last night, he sent me an updated version of his work.
Team Pts Projected Pts* Payroll** $ per projected pt
Atlanta 51 92.93 $41,733,547 $449,085.84
Colorado 50 93.18 $42,624,623 $457,443.90
Tampa Bay 57 106.23 $49,426,965 $465,282.55
Dallas 57 106.23 $52,041,788 $489,897.28
Nashville 52 101.52 $50,553,742 $497,968.30
Vancouver 62 121.05 $61,861,500 $511,040.89
Philadelphia 59 115.19 $59,158,272 $513,571.25
Phoenix 51 97.26 $50,035,282 $514,448.71
St Louis 46 89.81 $46,652,271 $519,455.19
Detroit 59 112.51 $59,606,636 $529,789.67
Carolina 48 93.71 $50,467,733 $538,552.27
Pittsburgh 58 105.69 $59,234,578 $560,455.84
Washington 55 102.5 $57,947,626 $565,342.69
Boston 53 103.48 $59,222,771 $572,311.28
NY Rangers 53 98.77 $57,070,569 $577,812.79
Chicago 51 92.93 $54,932,295 $591,114.76
Los Angeles 47 91.76 $54,995,082 $599,336.12
Anaheim 52 92.7 $55,822,051 $602,179.62
NY Islanders 33 66 $41,234,245 $624,761.29
Florida 40 80 $49,981,603 $624,770.04
Montreal 51 95.05 $60,064,445 $631,924.72
Minnesota 47 89.63 $58,426,607 $651,864.41
Columbus 43 82 $54,088,461 $659,615.38
San Jose 47 87.59 $58,058,199 $662,840.50
Buffalo 41 80.05 $54,729,829 $683,695.55
Toronto 40 78.1 $54,311,693 $695,412.20
Edmonton 33 66 $46,384,498 $702,795.42
Calgary 41 78.19 $63,340,008 $810,078.12
Ottawa 38 72.47 $58,953,024 $813,481.77
New Jersey 24 46.86 $64,710,725 $1,380,937.37
*Projected Pts: current point total divided by games played multiplied by 82 (Pts/GPx82)