Kukla's Korner


A Flood of Sens Stories

  • Schubert not liking his switch to forward.
  • Alfie’s trip home keeps the excitement level high.
  • Some thoughts on Alfie’s potential contract extension.
  • Murray talks about the team and its potential.
  • Hartsburg wants two-way contributions from all players.
  • For the first year, the expectations are low for the Senators.
  • A rundown of the new Senators players.
  • Hartsburg only one of a slew of new coaches.
  • A positional preview of what to expect from the Sens this season.
  • A well of hope gushes from Karlsson’s potential.
  • Schubert not likely to be a happy camper as the move to forward once again shelves his longstanding desire to play defence (Ottawa Sun).

“Right now we have seven ‘D’ in what I think are proper order. At the moment, he didn’t fit there,” said Murray. “Craig talked to him yesterday about it and I don’t know that Schubie isn’t totally happy, which is fine. I told (Hartsburg) when he played up front last year, he was a very effective player.

“He doesn’t see (playing both forward and defence) as a real advantage to his career, but we see him as a guy who can fill a role,” said Murray, adding he liked the bonus of being able to shift Schubert back to defence if the club had a defenceman hurt during a game or ran into penalty trouble.

“He’s a dual-purpose guy that, within games, is very important.”

As thin as our defence is, Murray really does believe that having Picard and Lee working their way into the league with Schubert continuing his solid forechecking is more important than shelving one of them to let Schubert man the blueline. His literally-two-way abilities are no doubt a boon to a coach in the middle of the game, and I could still see Schubert on the special teams, or when injuries or soreness sideline others. He’s not happy, but his dual play is probably going to help him stick on this packed team, and help him too the next time his contract is up.

  • Visiting home is a whirlwind experience for Alfie, but it’s probably the small things that mean the most (Ottawa Citizen).

Hasse was careful to point out that it’s not necessarily because of Daniel’s successful hockey career that he feels such pride, but rather for the person Daniel is.

“I often get asked that question in Canada, with both Daniel and Henric living there,” he said, “I’m proud of both of them.

“But my proudness of them is of the people they are. It’s not because Daniel is a good hockey player. It’s because he’s a good person. There’s no tree you can grow to heaven. It’s all about being grounded.”

For all the fans that will likely make the Scandinavium even louder than what the Sens hear while visiting Montreal, for all the media that takes up so much of his time, a lasting impact has to come from being able to return home to one’s family, and tomorrow’s game, perhaps, might be played and won for them.

  • The first estimates on Alfie’s new contract are in (Ottawa Sun).

There won’t be much in the way of posturing that usually happens in these kinds of negotiations where both sides wait for the other to make a move in case either side has over or underestimated its position.

Alfredsson, Barry and Murray all know what Alfredsson is worth.

It’s expected Alfredsson will be looking for at least a two-year deal, maybe three, with the value tied to the length of the contract. Given the market (the market for NHL players is considerably better than for banks right now), Alfredsson could modestly command somewhere in the neighbourhood of $20-$25 million on a three-year deal.

Is Alfie worth it, definitely. Does Alfie deserve it, definitely. But, the question remains, as Heatley and Spezza undoubtedly shrugged off money to stay with the Sens, and as Crosby and Malkin kept their salaries ‘low’ as a favour to the Pens, where will the cap hit land between properly paying Alfie what he’s worth to this team, and paying Alfie to stay with a team that wants to be and has a chance to remain competitive?

  • Murray sits down with the Citizen to talk about the team, last year and this year, and how he sees the future playing out (Ottawa Citizen).

Q: Is this your team, the one you’re comfortable heading into battle with?

A: I think it’s a combination, still, but it’s more like the teams I like. There’s some grit and some good size, some youth, and obviously the core of star players is still here and has the ability to score goals. I think it has the ability to be a very entertaining and very much a battling team.

At 66, you have to wonder how close (or far) Murray is from retirement, but despite the Senators’ lack of success last year, and the confusion of some of his trades at seasons’ end, I can’t think of a man I’d rather have at the helm.

  • While each player has their skills and their role, Hartsburg wants them all to remember that they have a responsibility to contribute at both ends of the ice (Ottawa Senators’ web).

“Every line, we’re going to ask to contribute,” Hartsburg said after today’s practice at the Scandinavium. “What happens is, to me, guys get themselves into positions where they don’t think they have to score. We want everybody to play the game the right way. You compete, you play well defensively but you still have to try to produce some offence for us.

“Even your fourth line, if they kick in some goals for us and bang some goals in for us, that changes the game for us. We know Spezza’s line is expected to score but we don’t want anyone going into a game thinking ‘I don’t have to score.’ You’ve got to find ways to help in those areas.”

There is a little irony left, though, in the fact that this article is called “Senators aiming to share the wealth” while Hartsburg aims to start the big three on the 1st line together. No doubt they are all high calibre skilled players, but there’s a reason they should not be compared to Crosby or Malkin. Our big three have only experienced their success together, working on a line where their linemates have combined to earn well over what any one of them earns. Crosby and Malkin, on the other hand, are able to center lines where their wingers combine to earn half of what they make, or less, and still they lead their wingers and themselves to tremendous scoring successes.

  • Underdog status now official, and maybe that’s a good thing (Ottawa Citizen).

“Expectations are a big burden,” Murray says. “Anytime you throw accolades at people, like last year when we heard we had an unbelievable team here—that helped the downfall.

“Certainly we had other issues, but it didn’t help the stability in the room after a while. I don’t mind (being slighted), because it doesn’t really matter where people pick you.

“I think we have a real competitive team here. Obviously there are some things we need to see as we go forward, make some adjustments, but I think we’re going to be a good team, a contending team.”

It’s not like the team hasn’t been hounded by the press for not living up to the expectations based on their talent, but finally that might slow down, and give the team a bit of a chance to start off slow and steady. Maybe Corvo left a year too early to see what a bright and potentially muffled media awaited in the future.

  • A look at the new acquisitions for the Sens and what potential they have waiting for Hartsburg to unlock (Ottawa Citizen).

First impressions can be misleading.

If Ruutu is wearing his standard wire-framed glasses and conservative suit, you might mistake him for an accountant or an anonymous civil service worker.

Put him in a National Hockey League uniform, though, and he becomes one of the league’s most annoying pests, stopping at just about nothing to annoy his opponents.

Ruutu, 33, has made a science (maybe that explains the glasses) of agitating, walking the fine line between what’s fair and foul. While he’s a solid body checker, can be an effective forechecker and will fight occasionally, Ruutu’s mouth is also a huge part of his success, often pushing an opponent over the edge with a choice word or two.

Maybe filled with a few more dashes of hope than most would allow for, it’s still nice to think that we’re probably just as far from the bottom of the heap as we are from the top.

  • Hartsburg has the tools and the opportunity this year to prove wrong those who doubt the ability of the Senators or of himself (Ottawa Citizen).

Hartsburg promises to show patience while also pushing the Senators to become a harder-edged team, more aggressive everywhere on the ice.

His background as an NHL star defenceman and in leading Canada to the world junior championship for the past two seasons could serve him well in trying to establish chemistry on a blueline which has been rebuilt by general manager Bryan Murray.

Also a look at the other nine new coaches in the League. More than a few teams will be trying to find their way with new rosters and new systems this season.

  • A look at the team’s potential, from the net on out through the defence and forwards (Ottawa Citizen, TSN).

The complementary cast of Cody Bass, Dean McAmmond, Shean Donovan, Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, and Jarkko Ruutu will be counted on to play defence and harass the opposition, but they’re also going to have to score the odd goal. They have to at least be a marginal offensive threat.

One of the mistakes that former coach John Paddock made last year was using his first two lines too much during the early part of the season. That not only wore his top players down, it also soured the players on the third and fourth lines, who saw themselves as having only diminished roles.

Murray doesn’t want to see that happen again. You can bet that Hartsburg won’t let it.

We’ve heard it so many times now, the Sens have potential, and it’s starting to grate on us as much as we hope Ruutu will grate on our opponents. But really, all teams have potential, as do all players; you’re here for a reason. The biggest question is, can the team find the right chemistry, and the right balance so that they aren’t just a bunch of guys sharing a locker room, but can really be called an actual team?

  • Karlsson is still young, but hopes abound for our newest Swedish defenceman (Ottawa Citizen).

On Frolunda’s blue-line, Karlsson is already playing between 14 and 18 minutes a game, and taking a regular shift on the power play. For a teenager on a team in the Swedish Elite League, that’s not bad.

With Ottawa management watching on Monday night, he got his first goal as a professional and had an assist to help Frolunda to a 4-1 victory over Rogle.

It’s increasingly looking like the Senators made a good choice when drafted Karlsson.

Two years can seem like an eternity - just ask the guys in Binghamton or the fans in Ottawa - but the last thing a team that drafts as carefully as Ottawa wants to do is rush their prospects’ development to the point of spoiling. While Karlsson does have to grow and speed up a little, players like the Wings’ Rafalski have proven that smaller defenceman can still make a difference, and a difference-maker is exactly what Murray hopes Karlsson will soon be.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | SENShobo | Permalink


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About SENShobo

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 talkingstick@petshark.net