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Abel to Yzerman

‘tis The Season To Second Guess In Ottawa

I really have no patience for fans or journalists who make a habit of second-guessing NHL general managers. It saddens me when wannabe execs view personnel moves from opinionated perches and point fingers months after...oh, the hypocrisy. Even at my most sarcastic I can't continue that sentence. The point? It's this: in Ottawa today, hours before Dominik Hasek faces his former team, the media is a wonderin' where they'd be had they not signed Martin Gerber. Don Brennan/Ottawa Sun
They could have and should have accepted a trade offer from San Jose that would have seen them with Vesa Toskala rather than Gerber, for sure, but they simply could not have gone into this campaign with Hasek as their goalie. The players couldn't have faith in him finishing the job this time, nor could the fans. But on a mid-December evening, when they are struggling and he is soaring, it is easy to fall into the trap of imagining 'what if' the Dominator was still in Ottawa colours.

Tough spot.  They couldn’t sign Hasek.  That’s a given.  He was a pariah in the city and the room.  We know the feeling.  So they went out and got Gerber.  A great signing, by all accounts.  But, six months later…a failure.

And they should have seen it coming.  The Sens dished out big bucks for a goalie who’d had short-term success. Stupid, stupid move.

I’m sorry…did you say something?  Oh…yeah, I kinda politicked for him too.  I seem to recall some lukewarm A2Y suggestions that perhaps Kenny Holland may want to consider signing Gerber.  Maybe I said that. I really don’t recall. It’s kind of blurry.

Re-hashing past statements of mine is immature and a waste of time, so let’s just move past that shall we?  Good.

To the present we go, and Hasek says he feels no extra motivation tonite.

Ted Kulfan/Detroit News

“I was very disappointed when they didn’t sign me,” Hasek said. “However, there is not bitterness. I understood their situation. They wanted to go in another direction. I have no hard feelings against management or teammates.

“You play hockey to win the games and do best for your team. I don’t play to prove Ottawa it was wrong. That’s not why I signed with the Wings.”

Ok.  I’ll buy part of that.  He didn’t sign with the Wings to prove Ottawa wrong. I get it.  But to try and sell that there aren’t a few thoughts of, I don’t know, redemption, whisking around that loopy head?  No sale.

Detroit News

“If it was me, I’d like to stick it to them,” said Chris Chelios, who has had numerous opportunities while playing against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“But that’s my mentality.”

Exactly.  And Chelios doesn’t stop there.  He gets on a roll and picks up steam.

Helene St. James/Detroit Free Press

After the Senators lost in the playoffs, there was some internal rumbling about whether Hasek should have pushed himself harder. Hasek said he couldn’t, and Chelios said those around him shouldn’t have questioned him, especially those in the locker room.

“Maybe they just felt the need to back management,” Chelios said. “But if any player did do that, they’re not a good teammate. As far as management, sometimes people don’t want to go down with the ship.”

As for what Hasek’s brought to the table in Detroit?  The same stuff he had in ‘02.  The guy’s clearly insane, and that’s cool.  He’s got the work ethic, the ego, the drive, and—FOR NOW—the health.

George Sipple/Detroit Free Press

“He won’t get out of the net,” Babcock said. “On the pregame skate, he’s out there for 30, 40 minutes. He wants to do breakaways till the cows come home. He likes two-on-zeroes. He does stuff that I’ve never, ever seen in my whole life. He just battles, and you gotta love him.”

And you know the stats. You know he’s leading in GAA, shutouts, and climbing in save percentage (currently 11th at .911 among goalies with at least 20 starts).

As for Gerber? I took a glance at his stats, thinking that certainly there has to be something there to defend the young man with.  Perhaps Ottawa’s giving up more shots?  Hasek’s faced 438, Gerber 432.  GAA? 3.35 to 1.84.  Gerber’s save percentage is at .891.  In a position to make Sens fans and media forget the number 39, he’s failed, and he’s feeling it.  Stories in Ottawa are featuring lines like this more and more…

Ottawa Sun

While Martin Gerber slowly crumbles before your very eyes…

And as for the guy who signed Gerber? Toe the line Bryan.

“I have no regrets at all,” Murray said yesterday, adding he’s not a bit surprised by Hasek’s start. “We knew if he is healthy, he is a quality goaltender. We were in a place where we needed to be healthy and to go all the way through (the season) with an elite guy.”

And who can really argue with that?  “No regrets at all”?  That’s pushing it a bit, but largely it’s true.  Hasek forced Murray’s hand and he had no choice but to let him go.  Not raiding the West Coast goalie association?  Now there’s a bit of a problem that may deserve a little retrospective examination.  But at the time, nabbing Gerber instead of a tender from San Jose or Anaheim didn’t seem like much of a gamble.

But, don’t tell that to the armchair GM’s.  Boy, I just don’t get those guys.  I’ll never understand the mentality of fans and journalists who think they know better than their teams’ execs.  I’ve made it my personal mission to avoid activity such as that. 

Right Kenny?


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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com