In a move that is sure to upset the legions of Jokerit fans (they who contribute to the league's highest home gate), Erik Karlsson is leaving their organization. Of course, it is possible that something may have been lost in translation here. While trying to communicate with a Finnish media contingency that could not understand him, Karlsson simply could have been trying to wish the masses a happy New Year by gesturing wildly with his hands.
As one Twitter follower (@TheHodor) tweeted, we’re really going to have to wait for a Globe and Mail article to be posted, taken down and then re-posted before we can truly measure how accurate these reports are.
Having totalled 7 goals and 27 points in 28 games played, he is the SM-Liiga’s highest scoring defencemen and he has inevitably helped the league leading Jokerit create a 6-point cushion in the standings over second place SaiPa. He'll be missed if this glowing HF account of his play is representative.
It is yet to be determined whether or not Finnish truck stop food factored into Karlsson’s decision to leave, but Jokerit did provide the following:
Erik Karlsson decides to return to Sweden and wait for the NHL lockout to end. Won't play for Jokerit in January. #Sens#NHLlockout
Per Sylvain St-Laurent, Jason Spezza could do the same once his Spengler Cup experience ends.
Lately there has been a mass exodus of NHLPA members leaving their European league teams to brace themselves for the NHL’s announcement that a season will or won’t be lost.
Surrounded by shelves stocked with canned goods and bottled water, I can just imagine these players (well, with the exception of money-phone Evander Kane), hunkering down with their families inside their backyard fallout shelters awaiting the announcement of their fate from a Gary Bettman emergency broadcast.
Mika Zibanejad Still Suffering From Concussion Symptoms?
Mika Zibanejad has concussion symptoms lingering from his last confirmed concussion in April. #Sens#BSens#AHL
With Zibanejad now out of the lineup four plus weeks, we’ve seen the organization blame his absence on the removal of wisdom teeth, strep throat and the flu.
Of course, this could be the truth, but the longer Zibanejad remains out of the lineup (and off his skates altogether), the more fans will look to alternative explanations or speculation as to what ails Mika. Obviously there should be some level of skepticism reserved; however, as Scott (@Wham_City) has pointed out, the above account in question (@SensProspects); broke the Jared Cowen surgery news (a Bob Mckenzie report followed 3 hours later).
SteffeG has heard similar things with regards to Mika still suffering from "concussion symptoms".
Professional teams are wary of the "c" word, and will go to great lengths not to use it in public, as anyone who's followed the Toronto Marlies of late will have noticed.
Mark Borowiecki is another case where it doesn't seem unreasonable to think a concussion may be why he's missed 8 games and counting, having not played since this series of repeated blows to the head:
Don Brennan reported Dec. 6 he was dealing with a "neck strain" and was slated to miss the following day's game. But like Mika, the longer he's out of the lineup, the more eyebrows will be raised. It will be interesting to watch how Boro plays when he gets back in the lineup, specifically if he contineus to drop the mitts at the rate he was posting through December, what constituted a 38 fight pace over the full season. Just in comparison, in 73GP last year, he fought only 11 times.
A CBA is needed first to consummate a trade, so assuming that happens and the season starts in the near future, this Garrioch story titled - "Pittsburgh Penguins Look To Bring Back Ottawa Senators Defenseman Sergei Gonchar", may be relevant:
"If the NHL does start a shortened season next month, don't expect Sergei Gonchar to finish it with the Ottawa Senators. The veteran defenceman, going into the final year of a contract paying him $5.5 million per season, will be targeted for a trade by the Pittsburgh Pengions once a collective bargaining agreement is reached. Whether Gonchar's former team waits until whatever date is set for the trade deadline or makes a pitch before the season begins isn't known, but league sources say Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero has interest in bringing back the 38-year-old."
I missed you "league sources".
Now this isn't the first time Garrioch's written a Gonchar trade story, there have been a few:
This latest one is considerably more specific than any of the previous, so let's unpack it a little.
Would Pittsburgh want Gonchar back?
I could see it. The guy won a Stanley Cup and played in another final in his time with the Penguins. Plus after unloading Zbynek Michalek, and striking out out on Suter/Parise, they have the cap space necessary to bring in a big salary if they choose. Malkin's bro-mance with Gonch shouldn't be discounted either; if you're Shero trying to re-sign #71 after 2013/14 you want the guy as placated as possible. Not to mention, Gonchar can still play decent minutes if he's protected enough, and remains an efficient power-play performer.
Would Ottawa want to trade Gonchar?
I have my doubts. With Cowen sidelined, minus Gonchar, the defensive depth chart projects as; Karlsson, Methot, Phillips, Lundin, Benoit, Wiercioch, Boro. Can't say that group inspires much confidence (said as a person who's loving what Wiercioch is doing in the A). With a thin defence corps I'd expect the Senators to handle a Gonchar trade like they handled the possibility of moving Kuba last year, ie. they'll entertain offers but have no problem watching the asset walk. Sergei played 22 minutes a game last year, and while clearly in decline, is still an important and useful body on a depleted Senators blueline. Trading away what little depth they have for a meager return seems a big gamble if the goal is the postseason.
Would Pittsburgh be offering much?
Pittsburgh has a wealth of defence prospects, arguably the best collection in the league in; Depres, Morrow, Harrington, Dumoulin, Pouliot and Maata. As an organization they could afford to lose one, but would they want to? Especially when the player in question could be acquired for nothing more than money in a matter of months. And while not a fair comparison, look at the return Ottawa got for another aging veteran going back for a second stint with the Penguins -- a 7th round pick for Kovalev. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think Shero's desperate to overpay here.
It's interesting fodder though, seems like the last good trade rumour round these parts was THE SUMMER OF RICK NASH.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blogger Seth Rorabaugh has a great blow-by-blow of Gonchar's time in Pittsburgh here, mind you he seems a tad skeptical "Sarge" will be returning...
Are the Penguins going to bring Gonchar back before or after they trade Malkin to the Kings for Dustin Brown?
In a nice reprieve from talking about how crappy Finnish truck-stop fare can be, one month to the day that Jason Spezza expressed interest to Hockey Canada about participating in this year’s Spengler Cup, he was added to Canada’s Spengler Cup roster today along with John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin, and Ryan Smyth.
Canada’s first game is scheduled for Boxing Day on Wednesday, December 26th, so given the dearth of Senators prospects participating in the WJCs, it’ll be nice to watch one of the Senators’ better players playing hockey in the near future; even if it necessitates watching Spezz center a line featuring Jacob Micflikier and Pascal Pelletier.
By no less an authority than Icethetics, here's their review:
"The Ottawa Senators had a perfectly good logo when they debuted in 1992. Then they came up with their first third jersey in 1997. And it had this multi-colored mark on the front. And we all asked, "why?" Turning the guy's head to make the logo more three-dimensional takes the logo to a weird place. And it just looks bad. The Sens thought they fixed the problem in 2007 by adding bolder lines and sharper corners. But they didn't. Long live the 2D head."
Never good to be keeping the company of the Islanders "Highliner" and the "Buffaslug".
When Icetheticspolled their readers in early 2011 to rank the uniforms of the Canadian teams, the Senators entries garnered the lowest combined score -- averaging 3.4/10. With the infamous "SNES" sweater coming dead last scoring a paltry 2.2/10 (I'd argue that's even a generous score).
This blog applauded Jacob Barette's efforts, and eventual collaboration with the Senators on the superb Heritage Sweater. But it doesn't go far enough. I think Nichols said it best last year, when remarking on the Blue Jays new uniforms embracing their past:
"I really hope that the Senators were paying attention, based off of the overwhelming success of the ‘heritage’ jersey and the amount of buzz that’s generated when teams like Oilers, Sabres, Capitals, Islanders, Flames and Devils (well, maybe there aren’t enough Devils fans to generate a buzz) don their original uniforms, it seems like a no-brainer for the Senators to return and stick to something that resembles the jerseys that they wore during their inaugural season."
According to a report in the Ottawa Business Journal that was fueled by comments from the Mayor's office, the City of Ottawa will be throwing its support behind the team as it attempts to bring an outdoor game to Lansdowne Park.
The idea is to have the Senators face off against the Montreal Canadiens, according to Ottawa Marriott general manager Daniel Laliberté, a member of the committee helping plan the city’s offerings for 2017.
Mayor Watson has had bringing an outdoor game to Ottawa on his "to-do list' since 2010, and tweeted the following during the leadup to the ASG:
Just chatted with NHL's Gary Bettman and said it's time for Ottawa to get the outdoor classic! He said when you get a new stadium, it's coming.
It should be noted there had been rumours Ottawa was a likely team to face off against Vancouver in a Heritage Classic in 2013 at the newly refurbised BC Place, commemorating the 1915 Senators-Millionaires Stanely Cup Final.
With Lansdowne slated to open in 2014, the intended 2017 date certainly lends itself to stale jokes like, ‘maybe there will be NHL hockey by then’ or ‘maybe Mika Zibanejad will finally have recovered from the flu by then’.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Mika Zibanejad's return to the Binghamton lineup (it's been 26 days since he last played a game), Assistant GM Tim Murray's morning appearance on In the Box carried some heightened importance.
You can listen to the interview here, or alternatively, you can stream it at the bottom of this post.
Graeme had a note on this earlier today, but we have begun to enter the fun stage of this genre where the translation makes its way back to those who were slagged. For the unawares, yesterday in a Globe & Mail story, Turris went all Andre Petersson on SM-Liga transportation, Finnish truck-stop dining, and the crushing boredom that is life in Oulu. I'm also pretty sure there was something in there insulting Finnish women, not to mention his severe disdain for saunas, reportedly calling them "bullshit", and that he's really "more of a hot-tub kind of a guy". In short bridges were burned.
So first we go to Karpat's head coach:
Kärpät coach to STT on Turri' comments: "They were like a slap in the face. The fact here is that we don't have private planes to fly with."
"The Globe & Mail article completely misrepresented Kyle's experience in Finland," said his agent, Kurt Overhardt, who called the article "erroneous" in a phone interview on Tuesday. He has nothing but positive things to say about the team, and the way they treated him"
The interesting thing about all this is, for much of the afternoon the Globe story was taken offline, leading to speculation the reporting may be suspect. But it has since been re-posted, with this one small correction:
Turris is slated to have an official denial statement via the team's website Wednesday morning. I'm not sure Kyle was planning to head back to Finland anyway, he just might not have the option now.
Oh...and of course there's a parody account:
On Sunday, I actually had to carry my own equipment bag to the bus. The bag didn't even have wheels!
And here's Turris' love letter to Oulu, Karpat, and the fans...in which he also makes time to dismiss the Globe story on grounds it contains - "very innacurate and untrue information". Although he doesn't specify what exactly was false, don't think anyone's buying this vague dismissal. Should have just owned it.
The Binghamton Senators revealed a promotion this afternoon that honours the Mayan prophecy that declares the dawning New World Age on December 21, 2012.
In tribute to the impending apocalypse – which Bingo fans can only assume means one of two things: 1) the NHL lockout will end, inadvertently ending any chance of Binghamton Calder Cup; or 2) that Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop will both catch whatever SARS-like flu virus is ravaging the rest of the roster -- "the organization announced that in the event that the world ends on Dec. 21, 2012 they will reimburse fans 100% of the cost of tickets purchased for the Saturday, Dec. 22 game scheduled to take place versus the Rochester Americans."
*insert joke about Binghamton already resembling a hellscape*
Assuming that the world does actually come to an end on December 21st, here is how Senators history will be cemented:
The Senators will have never beaten the Maple Leafs in a playoff series. Mika Zibanejad will go down as a bust. Erik Karlsson will fall 261 points shy of Wade Redden’s franchise record of 410 regular season points by a defenceman. The Senators’ greatest Stanley Cup moment will be Alfie striking Scott Niedermayer with a slapper at the conclusion of a period. We will never get a chance to watch Alexei Yashin’s wear the other shoe, reneging on deals or promises as the GM of the Russian women’s hockey team.
There are so many moments to look forward to in this team’s future, you’d hate to have things end now.
While there's been nothing official from either the IIHF or USA Hockey this morning, the above tweet speaks for itself.
In a report from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com yesterday, Team USA general Manager sounded a semi-optimistic note on the matter:
"It's still a pending situation, and in fairness to everybody that's involved in it right now I really don't have much more of a comment. In our opinion it's pending. It's a matter that's not closed and we're working on that. We hope to have a resolution on that before we leave here. There's a lot of conversations. Ultimately he has to be eligible for an IIHF tournament. We're working on it as best we can. It takes a lot of communication with a lot of people right now. It's a little bit of a uncharted territory for everybody. All I can say is I'm working on it as hard as I can. And I've been happy with the cooperation but it's a difficult position for everybody and everyone involved is giving it the right diligence right now."
It appears 12 hours after those qoutes were published, USA Hockey got their 'resolution'.
For Senators fans hoping to indulge their prospect porn fix with TSN’s glorious HD broadcasts, this news is bunk. Just a short time ago, it seemed possible that some combination of the organization’s first rounders – ie. Matt Puempel, Noesen, Mika Zibanejad, and Cody Ceci – could or would be participating in this year’s tournament.
Now, we’re just left with Mikael Wikstrand.
Ah well, Bingo streams are pretty great too...I guess.
And the official word via Chris Peters:
USA Hockey officially announced that Stefan Noesen has been declared ineligible for the World Junior Championship by the IIHF #2013WJC