Young and old roster jostling, the pre-season begins, jersey number hidden meaning, and Alfie’s camp preferences, but first. . .
Cowen, the Senators’ first pick in 2009, says his camp has been “okay” thus far. Others think maybe a notch below.
“For sure, there’s lots of distractions, lots of little comments from people that kind of get in your head sometimes,” said the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder. “The biggest thing is just to get out there and play the way I usually play.”
“Obviously the goal is to make the team. I think you come here and have anything less, you’re not going to play at all. If I do get sent back, I understand. It’s the National Hockey League. It’s obviously not easy to make. I expect it be nothing less than hard. Whatever happens, happens, I guess.”
Wiercioch was the team’s best defenceman at the rookie tournament. His strength is the transition game, moving the puck, but the Senators would like to see him start executing quicker.
“I’m an offensive-minded defenceman, but I need to prove I can hold my own in my own end. Do the best I can do with that, and possibly chip in here and there offensively.”
Aside from the crowd on the blue line, there is a more obvious reason for the rookies to try to shine in their own end.
Expectations high for Gonchar, the ice issues early on at the Bank, advantages of new glass and boards, Regin’s sophomore goals, Wick’s North American transition, Ottawa’s more tenured goaltending addition, and the Citizen’s blog transition, but first. . .
“We’re real disappointed for Filip,” Murray said at the Bell Sensplex, where the Senators held Day 2 of training camp. “He looked great in the couple of days I came over (to the Bell Sensplex) and watched him skate. I know he’s frustrated that (the injury) would happen but I guess if it’s going to happen, it’s better to happen early and if he gets it out of the way, then he comes back and has a great season.
“He did get caught in a rut and all the weight, as he turned, was on one leg and he got a fracture because of it,” said Murray. “It’s just one of those things that happens sometimes. It’s certainly disappointing for a veteran player that had prepared himself to come back after surgery. And then for this to happen.”
“There are a couple of defencemen (for whom) it’s an opportunity we couldn’t have predicted,” said Clouston. “We’ve just got to make the best of it as a team so that when Filip is back, other guys have maybe had a better opportunity and allowed us to see what they can do.”
And so it begins. For a team not set in net and just as up in the air on the blue line, this might not even be the best time for the team to take this hit.
Some light Friday news before Senators camp and my camping, on Leclaire’s new chance, competition from youth, the hope for Binghamton, and the search for a reliable team effort, but first. . .
He has trained hard this summer — “differently,” not with the cookie-cutter program but one designed to target his weaknesses, which he declines to name (a bad back, first-step quickness?).
“First of all, he’s in great shape,” Clouston says. “I spoke with him (Thursday) morning back at the rink. Real good attitude, excited about the season — to get going. To me, he’s in the best mental frame that I’ve seen since I’ve been in the organization — and we’re excited for him.”
Clouston agrees that the playoff catcalls might, to an extent, have helped Spezza.
“Any time you face a little bit of adversity, if you handle it the right way, you’re going to be a better person for it,” Clouston says. “I mean, you’d have to ask him how he approached that, but just by talking to him, the condition he’s in, the mind frame he’s in, I think he has handled it the exact way we wanted him to.”
There should never have been any doubt that Spezza would be back this fall.
Alfredsson’s All-Star memories, Lee’s (possibly) last shot, Kovalev’s career goal, and Michalek’s confident recovery, but first. . .
In addition to the all-star game on the final day, the four days of festivities will also include a young stars game — for rookies and second-year players — and a skills competition, both also at Scotiabank Place, an interactive showcase for fans at the soon-to-be-completed convention centre in downtown Ottawa, a “legends” game of shinny on the Rideau Canal and numerous other events tied into Winterlude.
He also said the city has a unique opportunity to put its own stamp on the all-star game by linking it to Winterlude, one of the world’s largest winter festivals, and he congratulated Melnyk and Leeder “for making such a compelling bid for what we believe is a marquee event.”
The event secure, only two potential points of contention arise.
Rookie Tournament player reviews, Kuba’s recovery for the season ahead, and Foligno’s battle for better results, but first. . .
Power-play goals by Mike Hoffman and Eric Condra in the third period lifted the Senators past the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Tuesday night at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont. It was the rookie tournament finale for both teams and for the second straight game, the Senators used a rally in the final 20 minutes to earn the victory.
On Sunday, the Senators trailed 3-1 after two period but erupted for six goals in the third to cruise past the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3. The deficit was only 2-1 tonight but Ottawa showed the right kind of finish one more time.
“The best part was, we battled,” said Binghamton Senators assistant coach Steve Stirling, who was behind the bench with B-Sens head man Kurt Kleinendorst. “Two nights ago, we fell behind (against the Hawks) with not a great goal in the second period. We had a little bit of adversity again today. A good first period, (but) the second period we got a little lazy and we were behind coming into the third. Then we came out and played hard. So there were a lot of positives.”
With a 2-1-0 record and a 13-10 goal differential, the main camp roster is now set, and the reviews are in.
Butler, Cowen, and Wiercioch battle for fresh spots, Shannon and Carkner look to improve their depth chart position, Ottawa’s overflowing roster, hope for 2012 All-Star Weekend success, and a former Senator looks for work at home, but first. . .
From the Ottawa Citizen, on the rise of Mike Hoffman,
Hoffman wasn’t even selected in 2008, the first year he was eligible for the NHL draft, which tells you a lot about how he was perceived by scouts. The rap against him was that he didn’t always work hard and didn’t always think about playing defence.
“We have some work to do there,” Kleinendorst said. “He’s a tremendously skilled hockey player. When he figures out how to compete on a consistent basis, wow, that’s the complete package. But I would say, right now, that that’s the one thing we’re going to have to spend some time on.
“I know what they’re looking for down the road in a couple of years, so I’ve just got to build my way up there and take advantage of every situation that I’m given,” [said Hoffman.]
There’s no doubt that when you go from being cut by both OHL and QMJHL teams to Q MVP honours this season with 46-39—85 in 56GP and going up against Seguin and Eberle for CHL Player of the Year, you’re going to cause some heads to turn.
Lenher’s tournament debut, Ottawa’s scoring outburst against Chicago, Lehner’s careful rise in the organization, Cowick’s Ottawa dream coming true, not quite the hoped for endorsement of Gonchar from Shero, resting the Spezza rumours, and broadcast headaches, but first. . .
From the Ottawa Sun, on the evaluation of Ottawa’s defensive prospects,
“The rookie tournament is good, but for high picks like Cowen and Wiercioch, you want to see how they perform against and with better players in main camp,” said Murray.
“The play isn’t going to be as scrambled. It’s more structured and that’s when they’re going to show if they’re ready. This is just a tuneup. What you’re going to see is that those guys are going to be much better with the older guys.”
“We expect them to show that they’re players,” said Murray. “They may not show that they’re players today, but right now they’re good prospects and down the road they’re going to be good players.
“If that’s coming out of this camp or next year’s camp or for Wiercioch halfway through the year, I don’t know. They just have to continue to show they’re elite players and they have to continue to improve. They’ve both come in stronger. They both had a lot to learn and they’ve just got to continue to do that.”
Despite the lower organization and competition at the rookie tournament, there is still much to be gleaned.
Update on rookie tournament roster (injury), but first. . .
From the Ottawa Sun, Leclaire is ready for a fluke-injury-free season,
If Pascal Leclaire is feeling the heat, it doesn’t show.
“I want it to be an awful year. I want to go pump gas next year,” Leclaire said jokingly to reporters. “It’s not the first time that it’s been a contract year for me. This is something I’ve been through four or five times.
“It’s a brand new season,” said Leclaire, who is sporting new Sherwood pads. “Whatever happened last season — good or bad — is gone. In sports, you have to prove yourself every year. It’s the same thing.
“I had (some) bad luck that kind of got me out of my rhythm a little bit. Before I got hurt, I was starting to feel good,” said Leclaire. “It’s done. (The way the injuries happened) make good stories (at) barbecues and a lot of people laughed about it.”
For $4.8 million, higher than all but Kovalev, Gonchar, Spezza, and Alfredsson, expectations are a tad higher than the 12-14-2, .887Sv%, 3.20GAA he put up last season.
From the Ottawa Senators, on what is expected to be a competitive battle to crack the Ottawa and Binghamton rosters at this weekend’s rookie tournament against Leafs, Pens, and Hawks prospects,
“I don’t know if anybody out of that camp (can push for a roster spot), but there usually is,” said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. “We have a number of (top) young guys that are going to be there. (Defenceman) Patrick Wiercioch, I think, will really benefit from a rookie camp situation. Certainly, Robin Lehner will benefit from it, just going through the experience of playing against pro players.”
A year ago, defenceman Erik Karlsson and centre Peter Regin both took part in the rookie tournament and eventually ended up earning regular spots in the Senators lineup. Defenceman Jared Cowen, the Senators’ top pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, would appear to be the best bet to take that route in 2010, with forward Bobby Butler figuring to get a long look as well. Lehner, Wiercioch and high-scoring forward Mike Hoffman are top prospects from recent drafts that also have a chance to make an impression.
“We’ve had an open mind since we’ve been here,” Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray said in a radio interview with the Team 1200. “It will take something special (to crack the lineup). As open minded as we want to be and say we’re going to be, salary cap and contracts do have a big say in it. In saying that, one guy may light it up. Who knows?”
Once again, for the fourth season in a row, I will have my say from the stands.
The longstanding (how-soon-ending?) career of Alfredsson, but first. . .
From the Ottawa Citizen, a hesitant endorsement of a possible All-Star Game,
“This would be fantastic for our city,” [vice-chair of the city’s corporate services committee] Desroches said Tuesday. “It helps with our work to brand Ottawa on an international stage. It helps hotels, it helps restaurants, it helps the taxi industry and it will go a long way to supporting the Ottawa Senators, who have to compete with a lot of bigger-market teams.”
The NHL All-Star Game is not without its critics, however. Many fans dismiss the weekend, which includes a skills competition and YoungStars game, because the on-ice product bears little resemblance to the more competitive games during the regular season and playoffs. All-star games are typically goaltenders’ nightmares, featuring plenty of goals, but little defence and hitting because players don’t want to risk injuring themselves.
Others suggest the weekend is simply a showcase for the league’s corporate sponsors to promote themselves and it’s often difficult for average fans to gain access. When the Carolina Hurricanes play host to the game in January, for instance, all tickets ($180 for the lower level, $135 for the upper bowl to the all-star game and $260 and $200 for full weekend packages) are expected to be held by either Hurricanes season- ticket holders and the NHL.
The same old questions from Montreal, and only aggravated by Ottawa’s arrangements will they be.
Native of Northern California. Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.
I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle. I watch, I react, I write it down.
My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked. I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind. When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom. It hasn't, I don't think it will. At all.
Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.
I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.
I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at email@example.com