by PuckStopsHere on 12/14/08 at 07:45 AM ET
As recently as 2006/07, the Ottawa Senators were one of the top teams in the NHL. They had their fourth straight 100+ point season and went to the Stanley Cup finals. This season, their 11-17 record (with 5 regulation tie points) puts them 12th in the East Conference. How did this team fall apart?
The obvious problem when looking at the team’s statistics is the current Senators have no depth. They have only three players (Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza) with more than four goals scored this season. In 2006/07 they had 15 players on their team finish the season with 30 or more points. The depth is gone. Some of the depth players are gone in Wade Redden, Peter Schaeffer, Mike Comrie and Joe Corvo, but that is to be expected. Teams cannot stay the same year after year in the salary capped era. Some of the 2007 depth players remain in Mike Fisher, Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly, but they are not scoring anymore. Nobody has been added to the mix who is much of an offensive threat. Nick Foligno, Jarkko Ruutu, Jesse Winchester etc. are not significant offensive players.
Without any depth, Ottawa is a beatable team. A team can shutdown Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza and not worry about anyone else. This keeps the individual offensive totals of their stars down.
It is a significant failing of management to have gone two years without adding a single depth scorer of any note, while letting so many get away. The inability to find depth players for the Senators appears to begin when Bryan Murray took over the GM position from John Muckler in 2007. Murray has been an unsuccessful GM for the team.
Part of the problem was coaching lost the dressing room. Shipped out were Ray Emery, Wade Redden and Brian McGrattan with one fifth round draft pick to show for all three of them. Had they become such a problem to the team that they had to be removed with nothing to show in return? A team that is no longer adding any depth players whatsoever cannot afford to give away players with nothing coming back in return.
Who was the coach during the worst of the Ottawa problems last year? Probably it was Bryan Murray, though it definitely started under Murray’s failed first coaching hire John Paddock.
Anyway you look at it, Bryan Murray’s fingerprints are all over the Senators failures. He has not done his job and should have to face the consequences. Ottawa should have started fresh by getting rid of Bryan Murray last summer. It might have saved them some of their current problems. There is no better time than the present to start a new era in Ottawa. The current one has failed. A new GM would be a start to that era.
The Ottawa Senators have fallen very quickly in the NHL standings in the last two years. The on ice reason is that they no longer have any depth and this has allowed opponents to shut down their three stars without having to worry about anyone else offensively. This loss of depth can be directly traced to a general manager Bryan Murray who has failed to bring in any depth players of value in his tenure and a coach, also Bryan Murray, who lost the dressing room so badly that players had to be subtracted in an effort to get it back. No team can afford to subtract players when they are not adding anyone of significance. In order to start again, Ottawa will likely have to replace Bryan Murray.
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