Today was a wonderful day for dumb decisions.
Graham James was granted bail. There was also Don Cherry's pinko-riddled speech to Toronto's City Council that introduced their new mayor Rob Ford. And finally, there was also Cory Clouston's decision to use the victory against the New York Rangers as justification for keeping Peter Regin out of the Senators lineup for tonight's game versus the Canadiens.
Am I sensationalizing Regin's benching? Maybe.
But here's a look at his numbers anyway...
- With 10 points, Regin is tied with Michalek for having the fifth most amount of points amongst forwards on the team
- leads the Senators in takeaways (23)
- he draws the most penalties per 60 minutes of play (1.3)
- he has the third best defensive GVT amongst forwards (0.8)
- his total GVT (0.5) is middle of the pack for the team because of his lack of individual production, however, amongst forwards, Regin has the 5th best Teams Goal For per 60 minutes rating on the team.
Here's a look at the Eastern Conference standings:
Congratulations to T6S reader Cassie for her submission to the Erik Karlsson Finger Point caption contest. Her "Hey Cooke, pull my finger" submission was selected by Rogers Sportsnet's Ian Mendes as the winner. As the winner, she receives the Metro Family 4 Pack to the December 10th game versus the New Jersey Devils that includes 4 tickets, 4 soft-drinks and 4 hot dogs.
Thanks to all of the readers who submitted entries. Expect another contest in the near future.
Like a cougar who had marinated in perfume before heading to the Crazy Horse bar in the Kanata Centrum, the recent decisions to scratch Erik Karlsson and Peter Regin reek of desperation. As a collective, Ottawa has scored goals at a slightly better than Muckaltian rate. Prior to scoring 3 goals against the Rangers, the Senators had scored 13 goals in their previous 10 games and the blame had to fall somewhere. And in typical Ottawa fashion, the Senators young players have been the recipients of criticism with the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch leading the charge with his clamouring for change. Here's a look at two of his most recent pieces of work from Off the Posts:
The list of underachievers is long.
The worst offenders are Peter Regin and Nick Foligno. Both are being given the ice time to have success and neither is producing. They have one lousy goal each. Regin is playing on the first line. ~ via Off the Posts, December 3rd
The time has come for change. The time has come for a major change. Start listening to offers for the young players. Make a move. Do something. ~ via Off the Posts, November 30th
It's worth mentioning that over the past year, my writing has shifted away from shitting on much of which the local media has written or said. Is it that my writing has matured a bit? Is it a general lack of care? Is it because I've generally found that the media (sans Brennan) rarely writes anything that is as stupid as it used to be? Or maybe is it due to the fact that since we've started recording podcasts, every member of the media that we have approached to come on the program have been more than accomodating and as a result, we've turned into soft manginas who no longer have any pushback?
Wait, pushback? (Note:How's that for some segueway?)
One week ago, following a loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Senators coach Cory Clouston told reporters after a rotten 4-1 loss to the last place Oilers that he felt Ottawa players took “them lightly” and “didn’t respect our opponent. We have too many fragile players right now. What I mean by that is as soon as things go wrong ... we don't have any pushback."
In an effort to shake things up, the Senators have yet to heed the advice of Garrioch and move some young pieces to acquire some piece that can help this team now. Instead, Clouston has benched two of his most promising young players -- Karlsson and Regin -- in recent games and with the latter coming in yesterday's 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers.
So let me start by vehemently disagreeing with Bruce's assessment that the Senators need to start selling young assets to salvage a season that is already starting to look forlorn. As Elliotte Friedman noted on CBC's website, Bryan Murray have been trying for weeks to do something. Unless some magical move appears out of nowhere, there's no help coming that way. Look at the trades being made: someone else's salary cap problem, someone else's extra player. There doesn't appears to be a true difference-maker available.
Admittedly, I like to engage in some prospect porn. Although I'm not akin to the odd Hfboards poster who invests a ton of faith believing that the likes of Michael Sdao and Roman Wick can develop into impact players for this organization, I do believe that health-permitting, Karlsson and Regin should be playing in every game.
As some have noted, maybe they're not as bad as they have been playing of late. So I ask: how much better can this team actually be? Are they good enough to ascend the standings and finish in the top four or five slots in the Eastern Conference? Probably not. Are they good enough to avoid a first round ouster in the playoffs? Not likely.
At the heart of the matter is the fact that as the third oldest team in the NHL, Ottawa simply isn't very good. Yet, instead of analyzing and discussing a veteran core that has become infallible, I have to discuss how ironic it is for Clouston to talk about lacking pushback when he neglects to scratch a more deserving veteran player to send a message to the team. (Note: I am on-board with the decision to call up and use Bobby Butler but not at the expense of Regin.)
It all lends itself to the notion that Clouston and GM Bryan Murray are feeling the heat and are being pressured to win now. Remember The Euge's recommendation that we should put on our seatbelts because we're going all of the way this year? Well, after the way the last two weeks have unfolded and with the possibility existing that management could adhere to Garrioch's suggestion, we could be headed into a horrific trainwreck of a finish.
Friedman's 30 Thoughts:
There are a bunch of Senators related news items in Elliotte Friedman's latest 30 Thoughts article. Here are the snippets:
- Ottawa and Toronto were the two teams that Marc Savard did waive his NTC for.
- Clubs are interested in trading for Brian Lee but only if Bryan Murray takes a contract back.
- Bobby Butler wasn't called up to Ottawa immediately because the Sens needed to create cap space and Murray wanted to avoid the "Saviour" label on a guy who's played all of three NHL games.
- Daniel Alfredsson is playing with some kind of undisclosed injury
Welcome back Dany.
How did this game not sell out?
Blow it up Murray.no comments
It’s been 541 days since TSN broke the story that Dany Heatley had requested a trade and the day has finally arrived, Dany Heatley will play in his first game at SBP since being dealt.
For many fans, news of the request was a shock. For those who had a thumb on the pulse of this team, it wasn’t unforeseen. The seeds of the Heatley saga were planted in that one moment when Heatley lashed out at the media following a loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. He said, "We weren't good enough. You guys are going to break down, however you break it down. You come up with something new every day. The bottom line is we're not getting wins."
Although it must have been cathartic for Heatley, he whiffed like it was one of his one-timer attempts that season. In Ottawa, there are two rules for getting exemption from media criticism: one, often referred to as the Wade Redden Rule, is to take on many charitable responsibilities as feasibly possible; and two, never criticize the local beat guys - no matter how deserved you think it may be. For a star player who was quoted about as often as Alexei Kaigorodov, I don’t know what he was thinking. He had the ideal situation. Not only did he play alongside two great linemates in Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, Spezza was the de facto lightning rod of criticism for this team. Why Heatley would ever speak out and risk drawing that negative attention and criticism towards himself, I’ll never understand.
Regardless, his venting set off this preordained chain of events:
- the media now had carte blanche to write about his contributions that were more one-dimensional than the font used to write this article;
- rumours, rumours and more rumours;
- then fans would remark about how noticeably big his beer belly was when they saw him at a local watering hole;
- then he would ask for a trade;
- then he would reject a trade to Edmonton;
- and Ottawa would get bent over the table in any subsequent trade offer;
Naturally, it wasn’t long before Don Brennan jumped all over Heatley on Off the Posts:
Dany Heatley's best shots of the night came after, not during, the Senators embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers at Scotiabank Place Tuesday. They were directed at the media. On an evening when the Senators highest paid player did little else other than take an undisciplined double minor and misconduct with just under four minutes to go and feint hope still alive, Heatley was in a surly mood during a post-game scrum "You guys are going to break it down how you have to break it down," Heatley said. "But the bottom line is we're not getting wins. It's in the room. We've got to find a way to do that." A little later, he told reporters "you guys come up with something new every day," when asked for answers. Yeah, we come up with something new every day, Dany boy. It'd be nice if you and your team could, too. Like, maybe a little effort? Maybe some goals? Maybe doing what you're paid to do, too?
His Sun colleague, Bruce Garrioch, was quick to follow up on TSN’s report insinuating that the reason behind Heatley wanting out was his dislike for Cory Clouston:
Two league sources confirmed to Sun Media this morning that Heatley has informed Ottawa GM Bryan Murray he'd like to be dealt. It's believed Heatley has a rocky relationship with coach Cory Clouston and would like to be moved so that he can get more of an opportunity to play his style of game.
It was a reason that TSN’s Darren Dreger elaborated on during an episode of That’s Hockey. According to Dreger, Dany was unhappy with Clouston's style of coaching and the decision to bump him from the first power play unit to the second. These decisions had Heatley contemplating whether or not to ask Bryan Murray for a trade at the trade deadline. Heatley ultimately acquiesced to his agent, JP Barry, who advised him to hold off on any trade requests until the season was over. When it eventually did end, Heatley spent time at the World Championships contemplating his future, inflating his international statistics and eventually deciding that he would formally request a trade.
It took awhile for the news to hit home. Even though some fans wouldn’t piss on Heatley if he was on fire and needed the flames put out, no one can dismiss the offensive production that Heatley brought to the table. He was a two-time 50-goal scorer and in 4-years with the Sens, he totalled 180 goals and 362 points and set a numerous club scoring records. His imminent departure would franchise defining moment. In any trade, Bryan Murray could never replace a 50-goal scorer. It simply was not going to happen. Not with a $7.6 million dollar cap hit, a full No-Trade Clause, a $4-million front loaded portion of his contract that was due on July 1st and a reputation that raised more red flags than a Canada Day celebration on Parliament Hill. If you need any insight as to how other teams felt about Heatley, look no further than the comments made to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector by Ron Hextall:
“If you look at this player's past... I'm going to spell it out to you as nicely I can. He was in Atlanta, had an unfortunate (automobile) accident there and asked to be traded. OK, given the circumstances -- there was a young man killed -- I can live with that.
He goes to Ottawa, he's on a pretty good team, they go to the finals, signs a big contract… Bang, all of the sudden now he's got to be traded again. 'Not only do I have to be traded, I have a no-trade clause. I want to pick where I'm going to go.' Well, there are some issues there.
He had problems with his coach in Atlanta. My understanding is he had problems with Craig Hartsburg at the start of last year in Ottawa, and he had problems with … Cory Clouston. Three coaches, he's had a problem with.
That raises huge red flags for us.”
(Note: As an aside, how funny would it have been if the Sens marketing department handed out red flags to every fan in attendance to wave in homage to this Hextall quote?)
With limited prospective trade partners, Heatley was in complete control over his destiny. In other words, a Heatley trade wasn’t going to happen overnight and in the days that followed his trade request, fans had an opportunity to digest everything and pore over objective statistics that proved that the Senators both performed better while under Clouston’s watch.
When Clouston arrived in Ottawa, Heatley had put up 22 goals and 45 points through 48 games – an average of 0.9375 points-per-game. In the 34 games under Clouston’s watch, he put up 17 goals and 27 points – an average of 0.794 points-per-game.
According to James Mirtle’s blog, From the Rink:
In terms of minutes, under Craig Hartsburg, Heatley averaged 21 minutes a game, including 4.64 minutes on the power play. After the coaching change, those numbers dropped to 18.85 minutes per game and 3.14 on the power play, meaning that 70 per cent of the reduction in ice time came with the man advantage.
But if you put that in the context of where this team was when that happened — i.e. out of the playoff race — and how much better they performed under Clouston (.618 points percentage compared to .427), it's pretty hard to argue with the results.
The numbers do speak for themselves and because of it, Heatley wound up losing the public relations battle in hockey circles around the league. We couldn’t help but wonder if a player could actually put his own personal statistics ahead of a team that showed marked improvement under its new coach. What happened
It helped foster a hostile environment that either ripped Heatley or questioned whether there were ulterior motives for Heatley wanting out. (Note: Do a yourself a favour and Google search the phrase “real reason Heatley wanted out”.) Leading the character assassination campaign was none other than Don Brennan. Like weddings, he made trash talking Dany Heatley a regular summer occurrence. When it came to talking trash, Don elevated himself to the position of Grand Pope of Shit Talk from his comfortable perch - behind a computer and behind a telephone. Here’s a look at some of the things Don has had to say about Dany in print since his trade request:
- "Of course, Heatley will never play another game for Ottawa. Not only would the team would be crazy to stick his cancerous attitude in its dressing room again, but Heatley doesn’t have the spine to pull on a Senators jersey again." Ottawa Sun, June 17th
- "The sky might be the limit, depending on what Murray includes in a trade that includes his big bonus crybaby."Ottawa Sun, June 17th
- "First of all, the spoiled, selfish suck-hole would hate it there." Ottawa Sun June 11th
- "Like a child, Heatley seemingly doesn't understand the word commitment." Ottawa Sun, June 12th
- "If so, Barry and McAlpine have made dealing the Dany The Dog that much tougher." Ottawa Sun June 18th
- "To the contrary, as hot as the whiny winger has been against the Maple Leafs (37 games, 27 goals, 23 assists) over his career, Burke said yesterday he wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole."Ottawa Sun, June 18th
- "It took more than a dozen weeks for the spoiled, snivelling suck hole to grant the media minions he looks at down his nose and the faithful fans who pay his salary a full 15 minutes of his precious summer Friday." Ottawa Sun, August 22nd
It’s not the first time that Don has inserted himself as a sub-plot to a story. Maybe you will remember the short lived war of words between Don and Georges Laraques during the Sens vs Penguins quarter-final playoff series from a few years ago. After penning an article that said that the Senators should target Crosby’s tender ankle with some well placed slashes in the playoffs, Georges responded by calling Don stupid. Don wrote that Georges doesn’t have the audacity to say that to it face. So Georges took him up on the offer and Don didn’t do anything. (Note: Most of the internet links to this story are long gone. There's a lead-up to the story found here on Yahoo! And here's one from Bleacher Report about the whole incident. Hopefully this will be the last time that I ever link to something from Bleacher Report.)
Maybe I'm one of the few, but it's because of the local media's piling on of Heatley that I am actually looking more forward to Heatley's reactions pre and post-game to the Ottawa media than I am looking forward to most. Will we see a repeat of the Laraque vs Brennan incident wherein Don powdered out? And if he and Heatley come to blows, will this become my second favorite hockey media clash since Larry Brooks vs John Tortorella? If I was Bruce Garrioch for the day, I'd be carrying around that Gene Florcyk Award that he won for his coverage of the trade demand.
Heatley has not burned bridges with all of the media however, in a sit down interview with Ian Mendes and Rogers Sportsnet, he acknowledged the rumours and speculation that surrounded his departure:
"You just realize it's all BS basically. A lot of people come up with things and come up with theories, but that's kind of the new world with technology and blogs and things like that. It seems like people come up with all sorts of stories. But the bottom line is it was a very simple thing: I needed a hockey change and that's what I felt was best for me.
I think the main thing is a change. I just needed a change. Some people can't accept that. I know there's been a lot of stuff speculated and lot of stories told. But the main thing is I felt like it was time for me to change and get a fresh start somewhere and I've enjoyed my time in San Jose."
It would all be so much easier to believe if those who were close to the situation, like Roy Mlakar, weren’t mentioning on programs like Off the Record that the truth would come out someday. It has the makings of a tell-all book – a sequel to Dominant Dany Heatley. In fairness to Heatley’s agent JP Barry, who is paid to say things like the fans “need to understand there are two sides to the story. There were reasons for what happened,” maybe there is some legitimate and reason for why Heatley actually wanted out. And in an article that ran in today’s Ottawa Sun, Heatley has no regrets in how he handled the situation: “I wouldn’t do anything differently. I think the one thing that obviously was a tough thing was how public it became. I certainly didn’t make that public and didn’t want that and I think that’s one thing that could have gone better.”
So Heatley’s disappointed that someone within the Senators organization leaked the information to TSN and helped nuke his reputation around the league? Tough titties. (Note: Although with the way that the past few weeks have gone, one has to wonder whether Brian Lee is a Heatley sympathizer. Will Lee go all Billy Koch on us and show up at tonight’s game wearing a Heatley Sharks jersey?) Heatley’s father even took Barry’s comments a step further in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, "You never get an unbiased opinion in a small community like Ottawa. The writers there know who feeds them, and if you don't, they don't let you in the building. It's sad in a way, because the fans don't understand what's really going on."
Who fucking cares? As as a fan, I cheer for the logo on the front and not the names on the back. It still doesn't change the fact that Heatley requested a trade. Regardless of his reasoning for wanting out of Ottawa, the only substance that we’ve been given as fans is that he was disappointed with his diminished role. In a sport where loyalty is paramount, the fact that Heatley willingly threw Clouston under the bus while he was still a part of the organization was not only a discredit to Clouston, it was a discredit to Eugene Melnyk, the organization and the fans that had catered to him and the baggage that he brought from Atlanta following the tragic death of Dan Snyder. Judging by his summer silence in 2009, it's safe to assume that Dany didn’t give a shit whether his reputation took a hit so long as he got what he wanted. And that's really what this is about -- Dany was just being Dany; getting what he wants on his own terms.
And for one night only, Dany Heatley’s terms don’t fucking matter. Players like Heatley deserved to be booed because after enjoying four seasons that as a collective were pretty damn good, he fled at the first sign of trouble after signing a 6-year extension. He’s nothing short of a front-running mercenary who selfishly thought going to a different team might put him on the fast track to winning a championship. For the first time since he left town, we will have an opportunity to boo the shit out of this sell-out.
So while I have nothing personal against Heatley, like his trade request, my decision to exercise my right as a fan to voice my displeasure at the former Senator is strictly a hockey decision. (Note: Let’s keep the snyd comments in check Ottawa. Right Tim Baines? )
Now, with that being said, fucking suck it Heater!
Here are some Chant/Crowd Interactions/Sign Suggestions for Tomorrow:
- Sign: Hey Dany, teal brings out the colour of your dilated eye.
- Sign: I wanted to write a mean-spirited message but feared getting a letter from Tom Molloy.
- Sign: They traded Heatley and all we have to show for it is this sign and two months of Andy Sutton
- Chant: op-tions, op-tions, op-tions
- Chant:Eff-you Heat-ley! (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap) You’re a sell out! (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap) and repeat.
- Whenever the Sharks are on the power play and Heatley is on the ice, everyone in the crowd should have one arm raised and be waving it – mimicking Dany’s calls for a pass.
- If Steve Miller’s Take the Money and Run isn’t played tonight, I will be seriously disappointed.
- Here’s a Microsoft Paint job for a sign – Dany’s eyes.
- In December 1909, coming off a Stanley Cup winning season in Ottawa, it reported that Taylor had a falling out with the club over his government job and his demand for more money. The Renfrew Hockey Club of the new National Hockey Association (NHA) announced that they had signed Taylor, but a week later Taylor said that he had decided to stay in Ottawa. After another week, Taylor changed his mind and said he would join Renfrew, signing for a reported $5,250 for one season (because of the high salaries the players got, the fans called them the Renfrew Millionaires). This made him the highest paid Canadian athlete and he made more money than the Canadian prime minister. ... One custom of the Ottawa fans towards opposition teams was to throw lemons. Cyclone Taylor, on his first visit back to Ottawa after signing with Renfrew, was pelted with lemons as well as a bottle. ~ via Hfboards
- Crowd chant of: Ho-ssa's Got a Ring clap clap clap clap clap
- Sign: Thanks NHL for scheduling this game on a weekday.
- Chant: Da-ny Douche-bag clap clap clap clap clap
If you have suggestions, add them to the comment thread.
A: Well, it was more of an opportunity to expose Brian. Give him a chance to maybe get picked and have a chance to play. That's part of it. The other part of course is financial. I won't know until noon hour. At this point, he's not being assigned. If he clears, we will continue to talk to other teams to see if there's some interest but I'll wait until after the waiver period is up.
Q: Will Robin Lehner play in the World Juniors?
A: We're definitely talking about that (as an organization). We've asked the Swedish Federation that if he goes, will he play as the number one guy and play most of the time. The other consideration is Mike Brodeur. Mike is still not playing. We want to make sure he's healthy and that we're supported properly in Binghamton if we let that happen.
Q: What are your thoughts on Dany Heatley's return?
A: He belongs to San Jose. He's a good player. We've said that all along. He's a point getter. They have a good team and hopefully we play better than we did against Edmonton against him.
Q: Eugene Melnyk said that he wouldn't even give Dany Heatley the time of day if he happened to crossed paths with him. Would you give Dany the time of day?
A: I had a good talk with Dany after we made the deal. He gave me some thoughts on what happened, what was going on at the time. I don't know that he'll extend his hand or I will but certainly, I would talk to him if he wants to.
Q: Looking back on how the whole thing was happened, do you wish you could have changed the deal or how it was handled?
A: As you know, at the time, they were in the driver's seat. That didn't change the entire way through. I had talked to several teams but it came down to the one team basically. The thought was either keep an unhappy player here at that time and maybe effect everything else around us or make the deal that we did. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. At the moment, that was the option we had and we took it.
Q: Was that one of the toughest deal that you've had to make?
A: I've been in a position where you had to make deals in the past because of finances where the team didn't want to pay a certain amount of dollars and so we made a trade that you didn't get full value for. That's the way our business is too. Everything's not ideal that you do sometimes what you have to for the group rather than what you have to do for the individual.
Q: Is your team starting to worry you?
A: Yeah. Of Course. I think when you're inconsistent, which we've been and certainly I know that a week ago, we looked like we were not a very good hockey team, the guys were really affected by what happened to Luke and Stephanie's child. This last game against Edmonton, I didn't like at all. I thought we should have played better. I think we had a chance in that game. I think Edmonton came out in the first period like they knew they were in for a tough night and we let them play themselves into the game and then win the game. I was very disappointed in that. You can't give points away in this league. We know that every night it's a real strain to win games. That it's a real tough time to score goals in this league and you have to take advantage of situations when you have it. In particular, at home. We're not happy. We're obviously very disappointed that we're not a few points higher in the standings. We do have to get going and make up some ground here and play consistently better than we have.
Q: Are you trying to do things to shake things up on your end?
A: Yeah, obviously. We're on the phone yesterday and we talked to three or four managers again and we continue to do that. And everyone's talking the same way: it's so hard to make a trade unless it's dollar for dollar. And how do you get that done right now? At some point in time, you may have to bite the bullet and do something that you don't want to do but for the moment, I'm trying to make the right trade for the team going forward.
I still can remember where I was when the Brian Lee selection was announced. In what was an annual ritual I was down in Wasaga Beach with some friends celebrating the August long weekend with a steady state of inebriation. Between drinks and visits to the beach, a number of us found the time to cram around a 15" hotel television and watch the 2005 NHL Entry Draft unfold. And why wouldn't we? After a lockout cancelled the 2004-05 season, the Entry Draft was the first NHL event that we had access to in over a year.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have been that excited to see the Senators make their first round selection. After years of shrewd drafting and player development, Ottawa had become somewhat of a perennial Stanley Cup Contender. Had the lockout never have happened, the Senators would have selected late in the first round. Fortunately for us, the NHL wanted to help boost its image and marketability following lockout by using a weighted lottery to give every organization an opportunity to draft Sidney Crosby with the first overall pick.
So when the ping pong balls dropped Ottawa had somehow lucked itself into the 9th overall selection in the draft. It was a coup! (Or at least, it should have been.)
"And with the 9th overall selection, the Ottawa Senators select from the University of North Dakota, Brian Lee."
It could have been the booze, but my immediate reaction to Lee's selection was one of indifference. All I had to go on was Pierre McGuire lauding the pick as a smart one because Lee would eventually succeed Wade Redden as a coveted puck moving defenceman.
Five years later, Lee's only a successor to Redden in the sense that he's the latest blueliner to leave town while Sens fans applaud slowly.
Yes, even though I'm probably the last Senators site to acknowledge it - the Brian Lee era in Ottawa appears to have drawn to a close. Some will rejoice and remember this day as the one in which Ottawa finally rid itself of Lee. Others will use it as an opportunity to shit all over the shortcomings or failures of the John Muckler era and sing the praises of those draft picks who followed Lee in the '05 Draft. As easy and deserved as that may be, today's also a day in which we should recognized that the organization failed in regards to its asset management. It shouldn't have taken this organization five years to rid itself of a player who never fell into favour with the current brain-trust.
Even though Bruce Garrioch has already tweeted (@SunGarrioch) that Lee will likely pass through waivers unclaimed, one can hope for his sake (and ours!) that someone will take a chance on him.