Whether it's the Dany Heatley trade or the annual contributions made to organizations like CHEO, Roger's House or the Heart & Stroke Foundation, the city of Ottawa has deservedly earned its reputation as a charitable and supportive community.
Today was no exception.
Almost 6,000 people were in attendance for this morning's service at ScotiaBank Place to celebrate the life of Daron Richardson. It's an awesome outpouring of support for the Richardson family who were courageous enough to make the memorial public and help raise the profile of mental health issues in youths.
Among those in attendance was the entire Senators roster who flew back to Ottawa in the midst of a road trip to lend their support to Luke Richardson - a former teammate and a current assistant coach.
“What is travelling on a game day? What does all that mean? It’s so immaterial, it’s not even on our minds. It’s about being here for the Richardsons."
Even though those are some true words spoken by Chris Phillips, the Senators organization has conducted itself with such class. When you read stories like the one in which Cody Bass has enlisted some help to organize a pair of special fundraisers in memory of Daron, you can't help but be filled with an overwhelming sense of pride for this hockey family on such a sad and tragic day.
I believe that the Ahead by a Century blog put it best:
Nobody saw this coming and nobody’s to blame which is the important thing out of all this. It doesn’t matter why it happened now, it just did and unfortunately it happens way too often. Ask for help if you need it and offer help if you can, you never know what lending an ear or shoulder can do or how many lives it can save. I urge my readers to support mental health and give a donation for the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health if you can.
Fisher Has To Be Better
It seems like every season, there comes a point in which Mike Fisher's production gets called into question and he immediately goes on a scoring tear to quell any concern. Yesterday, Canwest Media featured an article that looked at Mike's recent struggles. I didn't really notice it during the Philadelphia game but apparently Clouston benched Fisher for part of Monday’s 5-1 loss, and the 30-year-old ended up playing 15:27, down from his season average of 18:40. When explaining the center's struggles, Clouston said, “He’s not 100 per cent, but he’s healthy enough to be effective out there. He needs to be better. We think, at times, he’s playing well, and at times we think he’s not being the player we need him to be. And whether he’s healthy enough to be physical, he still has to be in on the forecheck, he still needs to be solid on the backcheck and good defensively. There are lot of players who are not 100 per cent throughout the season. It’s just the way it is. You have to make adjustments to your game, but you still have to find a way to be effective.”
Here's a closer look at Fish's numbers this season:
- With 3 goals and 4 assists this season, he's currently on pace for approximately 18 goals and 32 points.
- He has the worst plus/minus rating amongst Ottawa's forwards with a -6.
- He averages the third most ice-time amongst the forwards.
- He's second on the team in hits with 29.
- He has the fourth most shots on goal.
- He leads the team in missed shots.
- He leads the team in blocked shots with 19.
Most importantly, he's currently only 2 or 3 points behind his career norm pace (40-45 points). I'm not as concerned about his lack of production as I am about his inability to develop chemistry with Daniel Alfredsson. (Note: I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now because of his health.)
Trim the Blueline?
Yesterday Bruce Garrioch mentioned that Bryan Murray would be looking to move one of David Hale or Brian Lee by Thursday. Since Hale has already cleared waivers once already this season, he's the likely candidate to be demoted to Binghamton. As discussed on the most recent episode of The 6th Sens Podcast, it's ironic that the same contract situation that has screwed over Brian Lee for the past few seasons is the same one that is keeping at the NHL level. With no teams reportedly showing an interest in acquiring the defenceman via trade, Hale has outplayed him and deserves to stick with this team.
Kovalev Going For 1,000 Tonight
As if you needed any other reason to watch tonight's game. With one more point, L'Enigma will become renowned as the most disappointing 1,000 point guy in NHL history.
Carleton University Seminar
For those who have time tomorrow, Professor John Soares is spending this fall at Carleton University researching Canada’s role in Cold War hockey for his book on hockey and Cold War international relations. Prof. Soares will present his latest research at a political science research seminar tomorrow (Nov. 18th) from 2:30-4:00pm in Room A602 of the Loeb Building at Carleton University. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Soares, who is the 2010 Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in North American Studies, ordinarily teaches history at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He plays a cautious defence on the Notre Dame faculty-staff hockey team. The title of his talk is Hockey is One of the Milder Forms of the Cold War - Except When the Canadians are Playing: Canada in (and out of) international hockey, 1948-1976.
Jared Cowen News
Via the Spokane Chiefs website:
Calgary, AB. – The Western Hockey League in association with the Canadian Hockey League and SUBWAY® have announced that Spokane Chief defenseman Jared Cowen will serve Team WHL Captain for game five of the SUBWAY® Super Series in Kamloops, BC on Wednesday, November 17th.
The 19-year-old from Allan, SK, is playing his fourth year with the Spokane Chiefs and was a member of Team Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championships. Cowen, who was selected in the 1st round – 9th overall by the Ottawa Senators at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, is representing Team WHL for the third straight season and is in his second season of wearing the captain's 'C' for the Chiefs.
Whenever the question, “Which line is Ottawa’s first line?” was posed to the Team 1200’s Steve Lloyd, he would always answer with a “Whichever line Alfredsson is on,”answer.
Sadly, it looks like those days for the Senators organization are over. I’m not saying that to discredit Alfie. The man is a legend. An icon. The NHL’s most tenured captain. A five time NHL All-Star. The face of the franchise. An Olympic gold medalist. A Swedish success story. A Calder Trophy winner. He is the Senators all-time leader in games played, goals, assists and points. But most importantly, he’s the man who drove that sniveling piece of shit known as Darcy Tucker head first into the boards.
At 37 years of age, Alfredsson’s still a productive player but the past few games have marked the end of an era. Ottawa’s first line is no longer the one that features Alfie.
Thanks to the recent success of the Regin – Spezza – Kovalev trio and the offensive ineptitude of Mike Fisher and Milan Michalek, Alfie is showing that he can’t do it alone. Granted, both Fisher and Michalek are players who are recuperating from some lingering injuries, however, if you ever needed a bigger condemnation of their ability to compliment Alfie, look no further than Cory Clouston’s decision to flip Alfie with Ryan Shannon and slot the captain alongside Jesse Winchester and the goalless Nick Foligno.
I can't help but feel badly for the guy. With the way that Regin – Spezza – Kovalev line has been clicking, there’s simply no one left to compliment Alfie offensively on the roster.
A Thought on Nick Foligno’s Goalless Drought
So now that Foligno has surpassed the Jonathan Cheechoo benchmark for goalless games to start the season, he now stands 52 games away from tying Bill Muckalt’s single-season total of 70 games played without a goal. His lack of production is a growing concern for the pitchfork waving fans that need someone to blame for Ottawa’s current secondary scoring problems. So I’ll be frank here – shitting on Nick Foligno is lazy, fucking cop out.
You can talk about pedigree. He’s a first round pick!
You can talk about the number of games in which he doesn’t have a goal. 18 games!!! What gives?
You can talk about his cock-teasing production in the preseason without acknowledging the quality of opposition or that his tallies were the result of three great individual efforts.
How about instead of talking about how Nick should be a second line player, isn't it about time that we called a spade, a spade and acknowledge him for what he really is - a third line player?
Unfortunately for Nick, the team has an abundance of depth on the left side that slots ahead of him – Regin, Michalek and Ruutu – and as a result, he’s miscast with limited minutes on the 4th line.
There’s no question that he has the ability to be a regular 15-goal scorer but playing alongside Jesse Winchester and Ryan Shannon isn’t going to help matters. Based on his style and skillset, he’s better suited to play alongside Chris Kelly and Chris Neil on the third line, a spot that he inherited last night when Ruutu was in the penalty box serving his fighting major.
With Ruutu’s impending UFA status, Foligno looks to be the benefactor in the event that he leaves. Until then, take a deep breath and lower those expectations and pitchforks. Or maybe be more critical of the two players who occupy the "second line" and $8.5-million of the team's cap.
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.
Flyers flying high
Senators roll over, die
See you in Raleigh
"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):
|40||Boll, Jared||RW||6-2||210||24||3||Charlotte, North Carolina||$700,000|
|16||Brassard, Derick||C||6-1||190||23||3||Hull, Quebec||$2,800,000|
|71||Clark, Chris||RW||6-0||196||34||11||South Windsor, Connecticut||$2,500,000|
|22||Commodore, Mike||D||6-5||228||31||10||Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta||$3,800,000|
|15||Dorsett, Derek||RW||5-11||187||23||3||Kindersley, Saskatchewan||$550,000|
|28||Filatov, Nikita||LW||6-0||175||20||2||Moscow, USSR||$875,000|
|32||Garon, Mathieu||G||6-2||207||32||10||Chandler, Quebec||$1,200,000|
|35||Hejda, Jan||D||6-3||229||32||4||Prague, Czechoslovakia||$2,000,000|
|20||Huselius, Kristian||LW||6-1||179||32||9||Osterhaninge, Sweden||$4,750,000|
|97||Klesla, Rostislav||D||6-3||220||28||10||Novy Jicin, Czechoslovakia||$2,975,000|
|24||MacKenzie, Derek||C/LW||5-11||178||29||9||Sudbury, Ontario||$600,000|
|1||Mason, Steve||G||6-4||212||22||3||Oakville, Ontario||$765,000|
|3||Methot, Marc||D||6-3||224||25||4||Ottawa, Ontario||$1,050,000|
|17||Murray, Andrew||C||6-2||216||29||3||Selkirk, Manitoba||$650,000|
|61||Nash, Rick||RW||6-4||218||26||8||Brampton, Ontario||$7,500,000|
|26||Pahlsson, Samuel||C||6-0||203||32||10||Ornskoldsvik, Sweden||$2,650,000|
|10||Russell, Kris||D||5-10||180||23||3||Caroline, Alberta||$1,300,000|
|6||Stralman, Anton||D||6-1||180||24||3||Tibro, Sweden||$1,950,000|
|51||Tyutin, Fedor||D||6-3||216||27||8||Izhevsk, USSR||$3,000,000|
|18||Umberger, R.J.||C||6-2||215||28||5||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||$4,000,000|
|50||Vermette, Antoine||C||6-1||200||28||7||St. Agapit, Quebec||$3,750,000|
|93||Voracek, Jakub||RW||6-1||205||21||2||Kladno, Czechoslovakia||$787,500|
|25||Wilson, Kyle||C||6-0||200||25||1||Oakville, Ontario||$600,000|
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.
Besides I hear that Ray Emery is available...
When Mitel CEO Don Smith was named as the 2010 Ottawa Business Journal’s CEO of the year last week (Nov. 2nd), he remarked about how there is still a tendency for Ottawa business observers to see the glass as half-empty.
“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:
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!