by SENShobo on 01/30/09 at 05:43 PM ET
Two days after he publicly ripped Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock, Commodore turned his attention to current Ottawa Senators’ general manager Bryan Murray who brought him to Ottawa and briefly coached the blueliner last season.
“Bryan Murray said some things to the media that he shouldn’t have,” Commodore told the Dispatch. “I’d have a meeting with him and he’d end up saying things to the media that he wouldn’t say to my face.
“I’m struggling, the team’s struggling, and Bryan’s telling the media that I’m a player with no hands and no ability. Then they’d come to me and I’d have to spin it somehow, or try to laugh it off.”
“But when I go around the room and ask the other defensemen how we play in our own zone, and I get six different answers how am I supposed to fit in?
“I was excited when I first got there. I thought we were going to the (Stanley) Cup Finals. What they were trying to do, I had accomplished. And then they brought me in there during my unrestricted year and demoted me? That’s more than a little tough to take.”
And that, well, that got me to thinking…
With the season he’s been having, 21 points in 48 games, he’s earned the right to speak out.
Now, I won’t try to pretend that he was fitting in well last season, but can anyone challenge that the situation he’s describing could factor in just a wee bit to that?
You work under one situation in Carolina for a long time, where the powerplay’s run with five forwards and you’re the top puckmover on the team. Then you wind up in Ottawa, staring at Volchenkov and Phillips at one end of the defensive philosophical spectrum, Meszaros and Redden at the other. Before you know it, Paddock’s gone, Murray’s in, and it’s damage control on and off the ice.
That’s anything but pretty. Smears like this against the Sens, though, are even uglier.
Free agents may have looked tricky to pick up with the Senators’ performance of late, but with what ease will they be reeled in, comments like that on their minds? Sometimes you’ve got to get a little frustrated with the ease Detroit always appears to have with hockey, controlling the puck on the ice and the weaving in and out of the CBA as if it were just a paper tiger. But you’ll rarely hear something like that tossed the Wings’ way.
Yes, of course Commodore tossed his thoughts at Babcock just a few days ago, but anyone who saw the Zetterberg signing press conference had to slip out of their chair with how smoothly the announcement went and the executive looked.
Step one for the Sens has always been touted as finding that elusive puckmoving defenseman.
Really, though, it should be to completely shut down incidents like these. Was it any wonder that when Ottawa was riding high, they had Murray and Paddock as coaches? Two guys with arrestingly different personalities, but the combination went together as naturally as peanut butter and jam, and they could always find a way to reach their players, even as the paths to each individual tactic and player could differ from case to case.
That’s what’s got to be on Melnyk’s mind. He’s got the passion of Ilitch, but the organization, while filled with great pieces, should still be fleshed out to its full potential, transitioned into as seamless and as smooth an operation as possible. I don’t have thoughts of firing Murray and Hartsburg. Craig needs time to get that solid foundation in place, to find the line combinations, defensive pairings, and approaches to strategy that work each and every game; as long as they’re still switching around, you’re not going to nail down any secret to success.
I can’t vouch that this is anything more than Commodore shining up to the cameras, but ‘brain trust’ is a phrase I want to find in the Ottawa sports sections. Finding people willing to sign on to a non-starring, team-executive role might not be the easiest task, but it’s a goal that should be near and dear to Melnyk’s heart.
The first call I’d make, as soon as it can be made, would be to see if Stevie Y might like to try his hands at a new challenge, tempted perhaps by his hometown and the knowledge that at some point before he hits his managerial prime, Murray will pass his. It’s about time Detroit gets better acquainted with the sensation of being poached, anyways, even if it could well be termed the most dangerous game for 29 other teams to play.
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