by SENShobo on 03/06/09 at 11:02 AM ET
Ok, so when I said that it was Ottawa’s turn to play spoiler this season, I did not necessarily have it in mind that we would be spoiling the playoff hopes of a fellow Canadian team, let alone one I might find myself rooting for come mid-April (my playoff allegiances are a complex lot, and will be challenged earlier than ever this year).
A powerful 4-2 win over Edmonton would normally be reason to cheer, or at least cheer for more than the moment. But it is a strange place to be, thinking of what lies ahead. After 11 straight years of playoffs, I’m not quite sure how to deal with this, let alone how other franchises have gotten by.
A big complaint is that the 82 game NHL season is too long, but unless there’s 4 to 28 games on top of that, it just doesn’t feel right.
Normally, I’d be overjoyed to see the Sens winning convincingly over a fellow playoff bound team. Spezza scored just 12 seconds in, perhaps shocking the glory of Alfredsson’s game starting franchise record 13 second goal against the Leafs so much so that he was the only one of the big three to finish without a goal. Clouston seemed shocked enough in the post game interview that they had played a full 60 minute effort, and as the Ottawa Sun has it, there’s still a lightheartedness in the room, despite the impending shadow.
“You’re welcome,” Mike Comrie said to Chris Campoli.
After combining for the game-winner in last night’s 4-2 disposal of the Edmonton Oilers, the two newest (active) Senators were naturally in good humour.
“I’ve been telling him for two years now, ‘Just put your stick down and close your eyes,’ ” Comrie teased, describing the pass he made to Campoli for the second-period marker.
“I looked over at him and saw his eyes were closed, so I knew we had a chance to score.”
Campoli was quick with the playful return jab.
“It’s taken him a couple of years for him to hit my stick,” Campoli said.
Even as he wasn’t on the ice, newcomer Pascal Leclaire had everyone laughing and thoroughly impressed with his media skills yesterday when he donned an Ottawa jersey for the first time (video below).
The Ottawa Citizen caught the right quote for the goalie troubles the Sens have had of late,
“I come in like anyone else,” he said. “I want to come in and play good, and if I play good I’ll get some ice time. I’m never the guy who comes in and says, ‘You have to give it to me.’
“But I believe in myself. I believe I can come in and help this team. I expect to come in and play minutes, like I was in Columbus.
“I believe I’m a No. 1 guy in the league. I want to play No. 1 minutes. But at the same time I’ve got to deserve those minutes.”
You have to wonder what this team will look like next season, solely because of how poorly this one’s gone. Murray would not have traded San Jose’s first rounder and McAmmond for a risky Comrie and a still-young Campoli, had the Senators still been in contention; he may well have been the GM who, with that first rounder, Vermette, and possibly another roster player and/or prospect, could have pried Bouwmeester out of Florida. He certainly would not have traded Vermette for an injured goalie who wouldn’t have seen action until the first round of the playoffs, another risk just coming off of months of bein told not to exert himself at all while in a cast and until recently on crutches.
Had the Sens been powering through to the playoffs, the team would have different pieces, but far fewer that looked to potentially stick around. It might be that this season has actually given the Sens a much better chance for the future, at the expense of a capital filled with confused fans right now. Confused as to why Kuba was re-signed for the exact same contract ($11.1 million over three years) that saw Gerber’s career destroyed (though he was less than a minute away from shutting out the Ovechkin-less Caps in his first game as a Leaf, sporting his Vader mask with the Senators logo on the side no less). Confused as to why Neil could not be traded, nor could he be re-signed. Confused as to why no truly incredible blockbusters went down for a team that could do well to worry about how many dollars are tied up in so few players (and for a good inside opinion, this week’s Sens Underground podcast features a great interview with Dean Brown, voice of the Senators, who provides great personal insight into much of what must have been going through Murray’s head, near the end of their two hour show).
There will be no parade in Ottawa, no march of Senators-branded cars through the city as the snow melts. But with the warming weather comes a new Spring, and new hope for this team. They are a long way from the glory days, but bit by bit, these terrible times might be the treatment-by-leeches that this team needs to get back on the winning track. Just a shame that we have to go five months without being able to really cheer them on.
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Native of Northern California. Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.
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