Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: ottawa senators
The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons discusses the inevitable "falls" of Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel as the main topic in his Sunday notebook, but you and I both know that numbers 3 and 81 will be exiting Toronto in salary-and-or-player-dumps soon, and we all know that Jaromir Jagr's ability tos core in the "Dead Puck" era was (and now is again) pretty damn impressive, so this set of observations strikes me as the most pertinent "chunk" of Simmons' notebook:
Before trading David Clarkson to Columbus, the Leafs thought they had a deal going that would have sent him back to New Jersey. The player whose contract would have swapped in exchange has not been confirmed, but quite likely it’s the concussed Ryan Clowe ... There was significant interest in Roman Polak at the NHL deadline, including from his former team, the St. Louis Blues. The Leafs like what Polak gives them from a stability and maturity point of view, something the current team is lacking in ... Pretty sure Ron Wilson was an advocate of Phaneuf being named captain of the Leafs. Wasn’t he the coach at the time? ... The narrative once was that the Leafs won the trade that brought Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner to Toronto in exchange for Francois Beachemin. The standings don’t agree. Since then, the Leafs are playing .497 hockey and the Ducks are accumulating points at a .638 clip ... If you don’t love the Andrew Hammond, Hamburglar, story, you don’t love sports. I’m doing something I don’t remember doing before: I quietly cheering for the Ottawa Senators.
Simmons continues, discussing his usual potpourri of Sunday sports topics.
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Tags: anaheim+ducks, columbus+blue+jackets, david+clarkson, dion+phaneuf, francois+beauchemin, jake+gardiner, joffrey+lupul, new+jersey+devils, ottawa+senators, roman+polak, ron+wilson, ryane+clowe, toronto+maple+leafs
Elliotte Friedman and George Strombolopolous engaged in the usually Cox-and-Friedman-headlined Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada, and Friedman discussed:
Andrew "the Hamburglar" Hammond's future with the Senators, which won't involve contract talks just yet;
Topics regarding the GM's meetings on March 16th may include the Florida Panthers' starter-and-back-up-goalie-get-injured situation, expanding video review via giving officials a monitor in the penalty box to review goals that cannot be reviewed in Toronto;
And Friedman says that it's entirely possible that IOC president Thomas Bach and Bettman/Fehr will discuss NHL and NHLPA participation in the Olympics when the World Championships are held in Prague this May:
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch's second-to-last trade column of the pre-deadline season dovetails nicely with Sportsnet's Cox and Friedman's Headlines and the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline's most recent Tweets about the Bruins having interest in Cam Atkinson. So:
Talks have heated up for Arizona defenceman Keith Yandle because teams see the possibility they can have him for two playoff runs before he becomes a UFA. There’s a belief the Detroit Red Wings, who have been looking for a blueliner all year, are making a hard push on Yandle because he fits the bill to what they’re looking at ... Don’t scoff at those rumours about Chicago centre Patrick Sharp being available. Sure, they’ve been denied in the past, but teams are certainly talking about him and there’s a belief the Capitals are the ones pushing the buttons of Hawks’ GM Stan Bowman to see if they can entice him to make a deal. Sharp’s name is out there. A Sharp deal might make sense in the summer, especially with Patrick Kane gone for three months, but if the Hawks are listening they’re going to have plenty of interest. Sharp would be the kind of guy Ottawa GM Bryan Murray would show interest because he fits the bill of what the Senators want in a top-six forward.
St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong is in the category where he’d like to do something before the deadline. It might not be anything major, but the Blues wouldn’t mind adding some forward depth. He made a tour through the New York area last week which had people buzzing. While there are still those who wonder about the club’s goaltending, it appears St. Louis will go into the playoffs with Brian Elliott and give him the chance to prove himself last year after the experiment to get Ryan Miller didn’t work last year. Make no mistake, there’s a lot of pressure and expectations on Armstrong to get past the first round this spring and that’s why the name of centre Patrik Berglund is out there. The issue is he has two years left at $3.7 million and teams aren’t big on term.
Garrioch continues, discussing Curtis Glencross, Atkinson, Erik Cole and the Senators' blueliners...
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Tags: brian+elliott, bryan+murray, chicago+blackhawks, detroit+red+wings, doug+armstrong, keith+yandle, ottawa+senators, patrick+kane, patrick+sharp, phoenix+coyotes, ryan+miller, st.+louis+blues, stan+bowman
It appears that Bobby Ryan, who scored this goal during the Ottawa Senators' 5-3 loss to Los Angeles, has some mitts:
Ryan's teammate, Chris Neil, did not fare so well on a hit from Kyle Clifford, suffering a "lower-body injury":
The New York Times' Jeff Z. Klein wrote an exhaustively comprehensive article regarding the decline of the Canadian dollar as it applies to the NHL's salary cap, the health of Canadian and small-market American franchises, the Forbes valuations of NHL teams, possible expansion and/or relocation and the long-term health of the league in wide historical context, factoring in the NHL's TV deal with Rogers, the percentage of revenues coming in from Canada and the league's growth in American revenues by staging Winter Classics and Stadium Series games. It's a helluva article.
The most intriguing part comes from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who suggests that the 88-cent Loonie should not negatively impact the salary cap for the 2015-16 season:
“I expect there to be a healthy rise in the salary cap for next season,” Bill Daly, the deputy commissioner, said last week. “The Canadian dollar would have to continue to fall in a material way for that to change.”
For the N.H.L., a strong Canadian dollar means strong business growth. But with the Canadian dollar skidding, speculation is rife that the league’s bottom line may suffer, triggering a cascade of side effects, including a stagnant salary cap for the 2015-16 season.
Via Pro Hockey Talk's Dhiren Mahibian, the St. Louis Blues lost an incredibly important contributor when Brian Elliot suffered a "lower-body injury" on this hit by Senators forward Erik Condra (and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Tom Timmermann reports that the Blues are sticking with the "lower-body injury" line):
Ottawa won 3-2 in a shootout.
Most nights, I spend the "night shift" watching and waiting for a controversial hit to pop up, but on Saturday, Erik Karlsson laid out Evander Kane with a beautiful, legal and non-injury-inducing hip check instead:
Winnipeg defeated Ottawa 2-1 in a shootout and Kane played 21:30, so he was fine.
Staal, Myers, and more! The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch also offers the following rumors:
The St. Louis Blues could fire coach Ken Hitchcock if his team isn’t able to get its act together quickly. The heat is definitely on Hitchcock after an early playoff exit last spring and the club brought in Bob Gainey to act as a mentor. The Blues signed centre Paul Statsny in the off-season and expect to be better. If they don’t buy into Hitchcock’s program soon, you would have to think changes are coming ... With the World Cup of Hockey set to return in 2016 in Toronto, the committee has spoken with organizers of the Toronto International Film about overlapping their last week with the tournament. Not sure TIFF needs the exposure but it would be a good fit for the NHL and NHLPA to get more notice ... Confirm or deny: The Coyotes and the Senators had discussions about defenceman Jared Cowen ... A league executive said Friday teams will start to get nervous at the 20-game mark. “You don’t really know what you’ve got after 10 games. You have a pretty good idea after 20,” he said.
Garrioch continues and suggests that Martin Brodeur is still dead-set on being a #1 goaltender, and I don't want to post this, but I suppose I have to:
As the Hockey News's Adam Proteau pointed out, the Florida Panthers' relatively new owners are well aware of the fact that they're skating uphill in terms of increasing their team's attendance...
But when you see pictures like this from the Panthers's home-opening 1-0 loss to Ottawa, whose announced attendance was 7,311, you think, "Woah"--before remembering that this is kind of normal when the Panthers aren't playing a team that draws the snowbirds in:
Roberto Luongo shrugged it off while speaking to the Miami Herald's George Richards...
The announced crowd of 7,311 was lowest in franchise history, beating the 10,063 from a Halloween game against Carolina in 2007. Capacity at the building, which opened in 1998, is 19,250.
“I don’t pay attention to that stuff when I’m playing, I just focus on my job,’’ goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 22 saves, said afterward. “If we want to get some people in the stands, we need to start winning some games.’’
But the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov reported that Panthers fans are embarrased about their team's attendance woes, too:
NHL.com's "30 in 30" series examines the Ottawa Senators today, and instead of using potential captain and defenseman Erik Karlsson as its focal point, NHL.com's examination of the Senators' roster, top prospects and the "5 Questions" the team faces slowly but surely navigate toward another key player in center Kyle Turris.
"It was something I kind of got to experience two years ago when Spezza was hurt," Turris told NHL.com. "I definitely learned a lot from it. It was a lot more difficult playing against the top [defense] pairings and getting the checking lines every time you go out, but that year I feel was kind of up and down, where I'd have a good couple of games and then a bad couple of games.
"I feel like I'm much more prepared for that kind of role now having gone through that experience and I'll definitely know a bit more of what to expect. I tried to apply that into my game last year even though it was obviously a bit different of a role. But I feel like I'm more prepared, I'm more experienced and I'm more ready and able for that challenge."
And Senators coach Paul MacLean suggests that Turris is poised to assume a leadership role:
Mid-to-late August is the time of year that most NHL players--at least those who have established longer-term homes in particular locales--begin showing up near their places of employment.
Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson's return to Canada's capital yielded some, let's say slightly uncomfortable questions regarding possibly succeeding Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza as the Senators' captain, as noted by the Canadian Press's Lisa Wallace (the Senators' website posted an 11:37 clip of Karlsson's media availability, too)...
“Obviously it’s something I wouldn’t say no to (but) it’s not something I’m going to ask for,” the star defenceman said Monday. “I think whoever takes that decision is going to make the right one and whether it’s me or someone else I think it’s going to be good for the team and good for the organization.”
The Senators are once again in search of a new captain as Jason Spezza — who replaced longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson — was traded to the Dallas Stars this past summer. Spezza wore the “C” for just one season before requesting a trade from Senators management.
“As a friend point of view it’s sad to see him go and I wish him all the best,” Karlsson said. “It’s part of the business unfortunately. He’s been here for a long time and felt that he needed to move on. It’s just one of those things you learn to deal with as a professional athlete.”
And Karlsson certainly seems to have blunted the edge of his spar-worthy tiff with the Senators' particularly team-critical media corps:
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports that Senators GM Bryan Murray won't trade Jason Spezza unless he gets the amount of compensation he's seeking from the Blues, Blackhawks, Ducks or whoever else is bidding on Spezza's services, and all I'm going to say about Garrioch's update is this:
I'm sure that having Murray as a GM helps the master of trade rumors cut out the middleman (Garrioch's been at this far longer than Eklund, and Garrioch is far, far better), but man, it's got to suck playing for a general manager who will explicitly discuss his displeasure with your play or his attempts to trade you with every reporter that will listen to him. It sure didn't help the Wings in the mid-90's, and in this day and age...It's got to be rough.
"I told this to the agent and the player, 'It may happen, there may be conversations that bring us close to it, but it certainly doesn't have to be the cutoff point by any stretch,'" said Murray. "It could go all summer and it could go into the year. If I don't get the right deal, he has a year left on his contract and that could be the case, yes."
Of course, this can all change."
Now, Murray could be trying to drive up the market a little bit because the offers have been less than desireable. Spezza might want out but that doesn't mean they will give him away, either.
Murray wasn't willing to put any odds on whether he'll get a deal done in the next few hours leading up to the draft.
"I'm not a betting many so I won't give any odds," said Murray. "I'm not sure at this point. I'm certainly having some discussions, not as much as I thought might happen today. Again, there are a few people talking to me that have expressed interest. We'll play it out and see if anything comes of it."
The free agent "wining and dining period" has been a bit of a pain in the rear to keep up with, but it's at least intriguing to witness player agents just cut out the middleman and tell actual reputable sources, "Oh yeah, we met with team X, team Y and team Z" instead of having to read someone's column about "league sources" (who are almost always agents or hopeful GM's).
But the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch has arrived in Philadelphia, and it wouldn't be the draft or five days till free agency if Garrioch didn't provide us with both an update on Jason Spezza's status...
It's believed as many as five teams -- including St. Louis, Anaheim, Phoenix, Nashville and Florida -- have made calls on the Ottawa captain. The club is mulling over what route to take.
With Spezza requesting a trade, the Senators would like to have a deal in place by Friday, but the club would like to get a No. 1 pick to replace the one Ottawa gave up in the deal for Bobby Ryan with Anaheim last summer.
Murray along with assistant GM's Pierre Dorion and Randy Lee were expected to sit down Wednesday to discuss the different scenarios because this is a deal that has a chance to be a game-changer.
In a bit of a departure from his Monday "Hockey World" entries, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson penned two very lengthy Monday-morning columns. The first focuses on the "conensus" top 4 prospects for Friday and Saturday's NHL draft in Aaron Ekblad, Leon Draisaitl, Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett; the second column focuses on the state of the Edmonton Oilers, via a Q and A with Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish.
Matheson asks some incredibly pointed questions over the course of the lengthy Q and A:
Q: What about [Sam] Gagner? He’s been an Oiler since 2007 and a solid No. 2 centre for most of his time here. Are you trading him? He has two years left at a $4.8-million salary-cap hit ($5-million salary each of the next two seasons) and his no-trade clause doesn’t kick in until July 1.
A: He’s in the same category as everybody else. We’re all trying to improve our teams and our performance.
Q: Sam hasn’t asked for a trade like Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza, has he? Spezza wants a change of scenery with one year left on his contract.
The Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan believes that the Senators should name Erik Karlsson their next captain, but Brennan's also not sure if the "C" fits:
Off the ice, Karlsson also displayed a lack of maturity last season by ripping a major sponsor on Twitter, more than once. Everybody gets frustrated by phone or cable issues, but a real leader of an NHL team doesn't criticize publicly those who help pay his hefty salary just because he has trouble making a connection.
Karlsson can be a good captain at some point. He's only 24, and he's smart. He'll learn. And maybe giving him the 'C' now will expedite his growth. The Senators have to only hope.
Karlsson will also have to grow a couple of layers of thick skin if he's going to wear the most prestigious letter in a true hockey market. With it comes even more scrutiny of one's game, Spezza can tell him. Karlsson knows all that is written and said about him as is. Can he continue to handle the negatives as well as the positives the way Daniel Alfredsson could? Or like Spezza, will he too have a breaking point?
The Senators will debate the options when making their final decision on naming a captain. The problem with this team is there are no slam-dunk choices.
Updated 2x at 9:19 PM: Paul did a helluva job of covering the "gist" of the GM's meetings, but here are some items that I noticed on Twitter and feel merit mentioning, starting with Craig Custance's chat with Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman...
In Penguins and Maple Leafs news, from Sportsnet's Chris Johnston...
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Tags: brooks+orpik, bryan+murray, buffalo+sabres, chicago+blackhawks, dale+tallon, dan+bylsma, dave+nonis, david+poile, florida+panthers, gerard+gallant, james+neal, jason+spezza, jim+rutherford, jonathan+toews, marc+crawford, matt+niskanen, nashville+predators, ottawa+senators, patrick+kane, pittsburgh+penguins, ron+wilson, shea+weber, stan+bowman, tim+murray, tom+renney, toronto+maple+leafs
George here on the late shift, and I feel the need to identify myself because I'm going to get a little "snippy" here:
If Dion Phaneuf played a little less like Mr. Heavyfoot on the Maple Leafs' blueline, Jason Spezza and "potential" intersected a little more regularly, their teams wouldn't have conveniently floated the, "These guys are available" lines when just enough teams have been or are about to be eliminated from playoff contention to drum up some significant interest (I'm starting to believe that Thomas Vanek is more modern-day Ray Sheppard--i.e. a "finisher" who doesn't have great individual skills--than a free agent prize, but that's another story).
The fact that Phaneuf's 29 and was just signed to that massive 7-year, $49 million contract extension (per Capgeek), and that Spezza's entering the final year of a contract with a $7 million cap hit (though his salary's only $4 million in real-world dollars next year) at 30 also play into the equation, as do suggestions that, at their respective ages, the players may be in fact at the age where "diminishing returns" fare into overpaying to acquire their services (and if we are to believe what we read, both teams plan on moving said players to Western Conference teams).
Accoring to the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch, Spezza's drumming up significant interest. Garrioch believes that Spezza will probably be moved at or around the draft in Philadelphia (on June 27th and 28th), and he reports that several Eastern Conference teams and one with-division team are interested in Spezza:
Cue the, "Story blowing up this morning" title for this one from TSN:
The captain of the Ottawa Senators could be on the move this off-season.
According to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, Jason Spezza is "very much in play on the NHL trade market."
McKenzie says the rumors stem in part from Spezza's exit interview with the Senators this season when he reportedly informed Ottawa ownership that he may look favorably on a move.
The 30-year-old had 23 goals and 43 assists for 66 points in 75 games played this season.
Spezza, who has played his entire 12-year career in the nation's capital, has a year left on his seven-year, $49 million contract signed ahead of the 2008-09 season.
And Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos countered with the following:
Ontario captains on the way out soon? Independent sources say both #Sens and #Leafs shopping Spezza/ Phaneuf to west conf #NHL teams
Hearing lots of interest in #Leafs Phaneuf @ right price. Some clubs tell me they value him btw 5m -6m, meaning Tor must cover remaining $.
Update: Cue the video:
It's late in the season, so I can't blame him:
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has some...unique...opinions regarding his status as the man making the Senators' monetary decisions, on NHL and the game of hockey.
In his latest media appearance--a conversation with the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch, Melnyk suggests that one of the benefits of choosing to no longer spend to the salary cap will help the Senators in the long run...
"At some point you could be stuck because the cap has come down. Then, you go, 'Wait a minute, it's come down and I've got to unload $5 or $10 million worth of salary.' That day will come," said Melnyk. "It's like the stock market. You can't go straight up all the time. Eventually there's correction and it rebuilds. You've got to leave yourself with some room. I don't care if people criticize me. The fact is the team has survived in very difficult circumstances."
And Melnyk's take on Olympic participation is also "correctable":
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made a fantastic save on Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson en route to a 2-1 Penguins win on Monday night:
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch stated that his usual trade round-up column wouldn't return until after the holidays, so he cut to the chase and declared that, "Enough's enough, it's time Sens GM Bryan Murray makes a deal" on Saturday evening:
The Senators know the inconsistency can't continue. Ten days after Bryan Murray read the players the riot act following a 5-2 loss in New Jersey nothing has really changed which means it may be time for the club's veteran GM to act.
Murray has been working the phones trying to find a veteran winger and a puck-moving defenceman. In the past, he would have done that kind of deal without trying to touch the roster.
That won't be the case this time with the Senators on a strict budget. If money is going to come in then dollars have to go out which means somebody will be packing their bags if Murray decides it's time to trade.
Garrioch continues sans name-dropping...
Welcome to the morning after! A recap of the games from the night before and quick hit hockey news.
In Case You Missed It
Ottawa Senators are New Jersey Devils
It wouldn’t take long for the Senators to get a power play as just over a minute into the game Devils are Zidlicky would get called for hooking Erik Karlsson. The Senators power play would lead to a short-handed goal from Stephen Gionta to give the home team the early lead.
Gionta’s goal would be his first of the season followed shortly by another first of the season and Reid Boucher would net his first of the season to give the Devils a 2-0 lead over the Senators heading into the first intermission.
Any way you slice it, tonight's game was an important one for the Ottawa Senators. It was a chance to get an important two points against a division rival, a chance to bounce back on the road after a home loss in a game they probably should have won, and a chance to avoid falling behind early in the Atlantic division.
Of course, all that ignores the elephant in the room. The fact is, even though a lot of the Sens players had avoided talking about it, or said they weren't thinking about it, this was probably a night they've had circled on their calendar's since the middle of the summer for one reason. Daniel Alfredsson.
The Ottawa Sun is reporting that the final chapter of the Dany Heatley trade demand saga has finally come to an end. Sens owner Eugene Melnyk had filed a grievance against Heatley and his agent J.P. Barry, which was being defended by the NHLPA, aleging financial losses from Heatley's refusal to waive his no trade clause to accept a trade the club had worked out to the Edmonton Oilers. The grievance, filed in 2009, had been moving towards arbitration prior to the settlement.
Upset that he shelled out more than $14 million to Heatley in a span of $12 months, the Sun was first to report in November 2009 that Melnyk was trying to get a portion of his money back from the bonus that was paid.
Sources say Melnyk contends in the paperwork filed at the NHL’s New York headquarters, that Heatley’s camp — including agents J.P. Barry — gave the Senators permission to speak with the Oilers and the two-time, 50-goal scorer should have accepted the deal to Edmonton.
It’s believed Melnyk not only claimed the decision by Heatley to kill the deal cost him $4 million, it also hurt the club’s ability to sell season tickets because of the uncertainty in the Senators camp.
The CBC's Elliotte Friedman's graced our Monday evening with a "30 Thoughts" column. He begins with the P's and Q's of a shootout spin-o-rama (see: Mason Raymond) vs. ettiquette (If you "snow" a goalie, should that be a penalty? And the Globe and Mail offers a superb visual explanation of what constitutes an "illegal" shootout move), and he continues from there.
Among his thoughts:
1. Looked a little bit into Ken Holland's overtime suggestion: four minutes of four-on-four, followed by four minutes of three-on-three if still tied. Then a shootout if necessary. I love the idea, which was tried at the Traverse City rookie tournament the Red Wings host. One of the reasons against it is the league doesn't want longer games.
Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean was not amused by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mason Raymond's spin-o-rama, snow-and-score goal against Craig Anderson, and I guess this falls under the, "Ask a prickly question, receive an equally grumpy answer" category.
NHL senior VP of hockey operations Colin Campbell replied to MacLean's, "Should this be allowed?" question with an answer whose tone hisses through NHL.com's webpage:
"If the puck stops, or if the player's momentum stops, and particularly reverses, then there's an issue," Campbell said. "The problem is if you're skating forward, you can pull the puck back, or stickhandle, and that will stop [the puck] at times, or a curl-and-drag sometimes will stop it. There is some confusion and misinterpretation."
During the summer, the Competition Committee recommended the removal of the spin-o-rama move from the shootout and during penalty-shot attempts. The NHL Board of Governors approved the recommendation, but it was not passed by the executive committee of the NHL Players' Association.
"We've had this discussion at the general managers' meetings on a couple of occasions," Campbell said. "There wasn't a lot of appetite for spin-o-ramas. When you spin around and put your butt into the goaltender or if you go [into] the crease, you are dangerously close to being called for goaltender interference; particularly if you do make contact with the goalie in his crease, it would be disallowed."
(So blame the players)
But wait, there's more, and it's a, "You've all been warned" quip:
ESPN's Scott Burnside's relieving Pierre LeBrun in the "rumblings" department today, offering "ramblings" instead. Among them:
Like most people, we’re fascinated to see how the Daniel Alfredsson experiment turns out in Detroit. But the one thing that we still can’t get over is that the NHL decided not to act on Alfredsson’s blunt acknowledgement that his previous contract with the Ottawa Senators was, in fact, a blatant attempt to circumvent the salary cap under the previous collective bargaining agreement. Alfredsson told reporters before training camp that when the four-year deal was signed neither side expected Alfredsson would play in the contract’s final year -- worth only $1 million in real money even though the cap hit was $4.875 million annually. It was exactly that kind of wink, wink, nudge, nudge deal that the league had been warning teams about for years -- Alfredsson made $7 million in each of the first two years of the pact -- and which ultimately cost the New Jersey Devils mightily in their first attempt at a contract for the erstwhile Ilya Kovalchuk. The so-called cheat deals were, in theory, eliminated by new parameters put on contracts in the new collective bargaining agreement and the league’s position is that they are going to look forward instead of back. Good news for the Senators, but maybe in the spirit of CBA détente, the league should forgive the Devils the first round draft pick they must forfeit next spring for having done no worse than what Alfredsson admitted the Senators did in his case.
I'm curious as to why the Flames aren't being dinged for allowing Miikka Kiprusoff to retire early, too, but that's just me...
The Ottawa Sun's Tim Baines reports that Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Fraser was skating with the Ottawa Senators' players at the Bell Sensplex on Thursday (as was some Alfred-something guy), and as Baines discusses Fraser's love for the Toronto Maple Leafs despite his status as a born-and-raised Ottawan, I would like to posit the reason that Senators fans are...different:
He was surprised at the intensity of the Battle of Ontario when he returned home with the Leafs last season.
"It was always really special to come home," said Fraser. "But it's a different thing playing for the Leafs. The loudest game I'd ever played in, maybe except for the playoff games this year, was in Ottawa when Eugene Melnyk tried to encourage fans not to give their tickets to Leaf fans. It was a phenomenal experience because the fans were into it, we were into it and you see the amazing rivalry it's become in Ontario.
"The fact that hometown players can get booed in their own building is a weird thing. All the Leaf fans come out in this town."
Baines continues, and the same thing happens when the Canadiens come to Ottawa. I'd imagine that it's annoying as hell. We get pockets of fans cheering for local players on other teams in Detroit, and when the Leafs come to town, I think a quarter of Southwestern Ontario buys up all the seats because they can't get into actual Leaf games (see: why there will never be another team in Toronto), but seriously, to get booed in your own rink a total of half-a-dozen times a year...That ain't fun.
Rob Ray can be seen nowadays on Buffalo Sabres television broadcasts as an in-game analyst. Unlike many players-turned-broadcasters, the former Sabres agitator has no qualms about delving out his opinions.
He also still has friends and contacts in Ottawa resulting from his time there at the end of his playing career - and he was more than willing to share some opinions and insight regarding the Senators coaching situation, and the status of the working relationship between Brian Murray and Eugene Melnyk, during his radio segment on WGR-550 today:
“They’ve lost a spark and I think a big part of it is the guy behind the bench. They really, from the beginning, never bought into Cory Clouston. And, you know, they had a hard time with him in the beginning, and you know, they kind of gave into it a little bit for a while, but I just don’t think he has what it takes to keep them.”
“I’ve talked to people up there - Melnyk wants Murray to go behind the bench to finish the year coaching, and he refuses to do it, and I think it’s causing a major turmoil amongst ownership and the general manager that he’s not willing to do that, and I think you may see at the end of the year that the coach and general manager may be moved out of there.”
Click here for the entire interview; for comments on the Sens jump to 9:15.
from Mike Brophy at Sportsnet.ca:
Last season the eighth place Montreal Canadiens, finished with 88 points. For the Senators to hit that mark, they’d have to go 31-21 in their final 62 games. Of course that doesn’t factor in points they could achieve in games that go to overtime, but you get the idea.
The Senators will need to do an immediate about-face if they are to make the playoffs this season.
So what’s wrong with this team?
Click here for more.
I hope everyone is enjoying the hockey season and are gearing up for the upcoming holiday season! Remember the holidays mean the World Junior Hockey Championships are just around the corner, beginning on Boxing Day!
Now, some news and notes from various European leagues.
On the subject of the World Juniors, Team Sweden is hoping that the Edmonton Oilers will release Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson for the tournament. The Swedish rookie has collected 9 points in 25 games this year, while currently riding a three game point streak. However, the Oilers have already stated that they have no plans for releasing the talented winger for the tournament. On the bright side for Sweden, they do have the Ottawa Senators blue chip goalie prospect; Robin Lehner on their training camp roster, as well as the Phoenix Coyotes young defensive phenom; Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
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Tags: alexander+radulov, boston+bruins, edmonton+oilers, evgeni+nabokov, jakub+stepanek, magnus+paajarvi-svensson, miroslav+satan, montreal+canadiens, nashville+predators, oliver+ekman-larsson, ottawa+senators, owen+nolan, patrick+thoresen, philadelphia+flyers, phoenix+coyotes, robin+lehner
From the Toronto Globe and Mail’s Sean Gordon:
With the NHL draft looming and the hockey world humming with trade talk, Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators can be added to the list of players who may soon have new addresses.
Though the Senators would clearly prefer to retain the stylish centre’s services, general manager Bryan Murray confirmed weeks of speculation on Monday, saying that Spezza is open to trade discussions. “He said he wouldn’t object to one, he didn’t come in and say ‘I have to be traded.’ He didn’t object to, ‘Maybe it’s time,’” Murray said.
The GM added that, “We will look at everything that will help our hockey team, but I’m not going to make a bad trade.”
From the Canwest News Service:
Not all Jason Spezza supporters are fair-weather fans, but, judging by the size of the group that gathered Saturday on Parliament Hill, a lot of them are.
“We doubled!” organizer Louise Tremblay said when the size of the rally she had organized grew from two to four mid-afternoon.
About 20 fans, most of them wearing red Ottawa Senators jerseys, eventually trickled in to show their opposition to the rumours and criticism circulating about the oft-criticized Spezza.
Earlier today Jason Spezza was named “First Star” for the week, after recording 11 points in three games, including a career-high six points against Montreal this past Saturday night. Jason is second on the Senators and fifth in overall National Hockey League scoring with 71 points on 23 goals and 48 assists.
Q. Jason, you guys, you and Alfredsson and Heatley back together again, obviously in that 6-1 win over Montreal, what was the feel that you three had? There was talk of possible rust. What was the feel that you guys had right away in that game?
JASON SPEZZA: Yeah, we had pretty good chemistry together, and we practiced the day before and practiced that morning together. You know, it’s a pretty natural fit for us. We’ve played together now for a couple years, so there’s not too much getting used to each other again. You put us in with same line mates, we read off each other pretty good. I think more than anything I was fired up because it was a big game, Alfie was fired up because he was coming back, and Heater was pretty excited because he just came back the night before, so it was pretty good circumstances for us to play well.
From David Shoalts in the Globe & Mail blog,
“The game itself is the most fun,” he said on Friday. “Skills competition, I can’t say that I enjoy too much because I’m not really good at anything. The game is the most fun.”
Even more fun, Alfredsson said on Saturday, is just being at the game.
“It’s an ego trip, to be honest” he said. “Everyone tells you how great you are.”
more… on the skills event and thoughts on showboating.
note: a reminder that Steve will be hosting a LiveChat when the skills competition starts.
The Ottawa Senators’ Daniel Alfredsson gave a long interview to NHL Live on XM Radio today. With thanks to XM radio (which streams live from this link M-F from 12-2pm ET) here is the audio of that conversation.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
“It’s not fair (to blame the goalies). It’s not the goalie’s fault,” said Senators centre Jason Spezza.
“It’s all of our faults. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting points or you’re playing well. It’s every forward. It’s every defenceman and it’s both goalies.
“We’re in this together. I’ve said that the whole time. The only way we’re going to win is if everybody plays well and plays better. We’ve just got to raise our level of play so that we’re a better hockey club.”
from the Ottawa Sun,
To make matters worse, the Senators’ injury list is growing. Defenceman Anton Volchenkov could be out for an extended period after leaving the game with a hand injury after blocking a shot on the first shift.
While the Senators are fortunate Christoph Schubert was able to slide back and play on the blueline, losing Volchenkov is costly. He logs a lot of minutes and is usually assigned the job of shutting down the top players in the league with Jaromir Jagr and the New York Rangers visiting tomorrow at 2 p.m.
more on the Senators/Predators game last night…
update 10:33am, via TSN,
Sources tell TSN Anton Volchenkov suffered a broken finger last night when he blocked a shot and it’s expected the Ottawa Senator defenceman will be sidelined for four weeks.
We have had people saying they are hockey players, now we have teams saying they are the Ottawa Senators…
from the Detroit Free Press,
Detroit’s second permanent luxury casino hotel opens this afternoon, and early tours Tuesday showed off the funky flair of the MotorCity Casino Hotel that contrasts nicely with competitor MGM Grand Detroit’s smooth elegance.
The permanent casino complexes are part of the required payback for the money Detroit’s three casinos take in (more than $1.1 billion in the first 10 months of this year). The hotels were required as part of the agreements that allowed the casinos to open in temporary facilities at first….
It’s not a coincidence that two of the hotel’s confirmed guests are the Minnesota Wild and Ottawa Senators hockey teams.
read more about the hotel, but the Sens don’t visit Detroit this season, unless, of course, it is in early June…
thanks to Snapshots for the pointer to the story…
from Chris Stevenson of the Ottawa Sun,
The Senators joined the New York Islanders winger for dinner Tuesday night because they apparently really do like him and not because there might have been a chance to see Comrie’s squeeze, singer/clothes designer/teen idol Hilary Duff.
“I’ve got a lot of friends in the NHL now,” joked Comrie, who made the Islanders his fifth NHL organization in seven years when he signed here as a free agent during the summer.
more on the Sens…
For all of you waiting for trades to happen…
via the Ottawa Sun,
“Having an extra Top 6 forward allows for injuries and allows for a lot of things that happen like (Eaves and Alfredsson) being out,” Murray told the Sun. “That’s always the ideal scenario to be able to do that and we’re going to pursue that, without a doubt.
“However, we know full well that until teams are eliminated from the playoffs, we’re probably not going to be able to make many deals for that quality of a player.”
from Rand Simon of the Hockey News,
If Alfredsson does play under his contract through 2011-12, he will have earned a total of $26.6 million in salary (less any escrow) over the seven seasons since the lockout. Without the 24 per cent rollback, Alfredsson would have received $35 million during that time frame. So, including the $5 million lost from the 2004-05 season, the lockout cost Alfredsson $13.4 million in salary.
On top of that, Alfredsson has signing bonus payments in his contract and the lost rolled back amount is another $1.155 million.
In total, Alfredsson is potentially down more than $14.5 million. To make matters worse, it is worth pointing out that in August 2004 Alfredsson was getting $1.31 Canadian for every U.S. dollar earned and not the 98 or 99 cents he gets today.
Senators coach John Paddock on the goaltending of Martin Gerber last night…
from the Ottawa Citizen,
“I didn’t like the goals, it’s that simple,” he said, also referring to the sharp-angle goals from R.J. Umberger and Scott Hartnell earlier in the game. “Those kinds of saves have to be made. Routine saves have to be made. He has been doing that all year, he has been dong a good job for us all year and he has also made the spectacular saves. He’s just like half a dozen other guys on the team right now. He’s just not getting it done.
“I’m not happy with it at the moment, but I’m not overly concerned. You don’t go from having 13 wins and (one of the best) save percentages and just become bad. Those things happen. That will be turned around for sure.”
more on the Sens…
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
Now that Ottawa has lost a fifth game, isn’t it about time talking heads on radio and television stop making comparisons between them and the Canadiens team of the late 1970s, which lost only eight games in 1976-77? Yeah ... Martin Gerber and Ken Dryden; Wade Redden and Larry Robinson ... Guy Lafleur and any of the Senators’ forwards.
via the AP,
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has a groin injury and isn’t expected to play Saturday against Philadelphia.
Ottawa’s top scorer was injured during Thursday’s shootout loss to Pittsburgh. He had three assists in the game, but wasn’t able to take a shootout attempt.
Senators coach John Paddock says his captain is day-to-day, but “I don’t think that day-to-day includes playing tomorrow.”
from The Good, The Bad And The Duthie at the Ottawa Citizen,
I got a 2-hour sermon on how Gerber is the greatest thing out of Switzerland since Roger Federer, and how Ottawa will trade Emery, get after another big-time scorer, and win the cup without breaking a sweat. (These, of course, are the same guys who would have traded Gerber for a Gatorade last season.)
They insist the “trade Emery” talk is serious water-cooler material in Ottawa (Assuming people actually still talk at water-coolers, which I highly doubt). If that’s the case, it’s time for a reality check.
From Allen Panzeri at CanWest News,
To get Sherwood-Drolet to keep making his sticks in Canada, Spezza had to play his trump card as a longtime, valuable customer. He has been using the company’s sticks since his final years in junior hockey, and he’s also featured on the company’s home page.
“I made it clear with them that, if I was going to continue using their sticks, I wanted to make sure they were still made in the same place they’ve been made for the last seven, eight years,” Spezza said on Monday.
Spezza goes through 300+ sticks a season. As mentioned recently, Sherwood will be discontinuing its production of wooden sticks in Quebec, and having them made in China and Estonia starting in January.
from the Blueshirts Blog at Newsday,
The papers haven’t been signed yet, but the Rangers are all but signed, sealed and delivered to Prague to open next season with a two-game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And that pair of games will only comprise half of the NHL’s season-opening plan for 2008-09. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators are expected to open their season with two games in Stockholm.
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