Thursday, February 28, 2008


Jean-Pierre Allard is sticking to his guns about your beloved Sens today.

While GM Bryan Murray absolutely made the right decision in dismissing John Paddock, he will soon find out that it doesn't matter who is behind the bench of the Senators.

The reality is that this team has no capable goalie, only one dependable defenseman and far too many dipsy-doodlers up front.

Some players care only about their individual statistics, others are sadly over-rated, a few are grossly overpaid, many have lost a step or two while the majority very seldom bother putting in a solid 60 minutes a game, a telltale sign of weak leadership. Throw in the growing belief that there are far bigger issues with the Senators than their on-ice struggless.

Simply put, the current edition is not nearly as good as the media led us to believe ever when they came out of the gate with a 15-2-0 record. The irony of it all is that Murray is now in for the biggest challenge of his long career as the coach of this rudderless crew, having the mandate of fixing the very problems that he's mostly created during his short tenure as the team’s GM.

He chose Paddock as his replacement, gave long-term contracts last summer to one-dimensional Dany Heatley, overrated Mike Fisher and mediocre Ray Emery, traded for ineffective Shean Donovan and signed aging Luke Richardson and Randy Robitaille. He sat back while Paddock totally mismanaged the goaltending situation, then traded for slow Cory Stillman and even slower Mike Commodore.

Then let the trade deadline passed without Ottawa so much as looking for goaltending help, instead settling for Martin Lapointe, a gritty forward who, alas, even Murray acknowledged may have lost a step or two from his better days. Welcome to this year’s edition of Rob Ray, Vaclav Varada and Oleg (Freakin') Saprykin (hat tip to Ian Mendes on the nickname).

At the risk of permanently alienating 500,000 plus Red Army supporters, I can’t help but wonder if the Senators would be a far better team if Murray had shipped that big, lazy Spezza in a blockbuster move for a top goalie, a mean SOB of a defenceman and a big and gritty forward. (Ed.'s note: One of the problems with the new NHL: Any team which has all three of those probably still thinks it's in the hunt to win something.)

Seriously folks, open your eyes. Former coach Jacques Martin was right about Spezza being a boy in a men's league. What is appalling is that this assessment is still very much accurate five years after it was rendered.

Then again, trading everyone’s darling would have taken guts.

In the end, Murray took a giant risk by refusing to take risks and part with his 2008 first-round draft pick in exchange for securing a big fish because he curiously thought it more important to put on a show for Ottawa fans at this year’s June draft to be held at Scotiabank Place. So a GM thinks a draft is more important than a chance at winning a Cup and not one sleepy hockey writer calls him on the carpet. Only in sleepy Ottawa, as Joe Corvo would say. What is it anyways with the Ottawa Senators always having their effin' ducks grossly misaligned?

So good luck, Mr. Murray. It seems to me that you are the principal architect of your own demise.

The time might be soon coming when the Senators’ solid and loyal fan base will get fed up and start tuning out the milk and honey message from the Mighty SOPO on the second floor of The Stash, just like Jason Spezzanator and the rest of the sweet little players in the “country club dressing room” tuned out Capitaine Haddock like an AM radio station.

Meanwhile, it’s high time that owner Eugene Melnyk stopped being careful with his axe.

He should forget what his favourite band The Eagles said about when "hell freezes over" or that my top group Pink Floyd dreamt that "pigs can fly" and pay attention instead to what Jann Arden insensitively said about "they shoot dead horses, don’t they?"

Jean-Pierre Allard
February 28, 2008


Dennis Prouse said...

Put Mike Fisher on the table and see how "overrated" he is. If that guy was on the market, every team in the league would be on him like a fat kid on a Smartie. The other night in Boston, when every other guy on the team was going through the motions, he and Schubert were the only two Sens with more than one hit. (They each had three.) There are a lot of guys you could throw under the bus during this recent slide, but Fisher isn't one of them - he has been about the only one earning his pay.

As for goalies, you simply have to start naming names if you want to have any credibility. Precisely whom do you believe the Senators should bring in? I'm not aware of any team out there who was willing to part with their number one guy. Teams simply don't trade number one goalies.

It is believed the Sens kicked the tires on Khabibulin, but he has a big salary, and more to the point, a bad back right now. Bad backs can be very tricky. I am certain that Ottawa would have coughed up more than a second rounder for Huet, but trades require two partners, and Gainey had no interest in strengthening a Divisional rival 2 hours down the road.

To Neate's earlier point, developing goalies, and predicting their play, just seems like a giant crapshoot. Tim Thomas was a 29 year old journeyman in Europe a couple of years ago, and went to the All-Star game this year. Jose Theodore has done the complete tour -- from Hart Trophy winner, to bum, and is now climbing the ladder yet again and playing great hockey for the Avalanche just when the entire hockey world had written him off for dead.

Look at Andrew Raycroft -- from Calder Trophy winner a few years ago, to Dan Cloutier-like sieve in Toronto. (Speaking of Cloutier, he is actually back with the Kings, just when you thought he had played his last NHL game.) Then there is Ty Conklin, told flat out by the Penguins at the beginning of the year that he was being brought in only to play in the AHL, and is now holding down the fort for the new hot pick to win the East.

If any of you have some magic formula you think will help predict goaltender play and development, I'm sure the Senators, LA Kings, and any other number of NHL teams would love to hear about it.

sager said...

Yeah, there seems to be no way to predict it... with the 5-on-5 data that guys like Gabe Desjardins and Vic Ferrari (pseudonym) are starting to generate, we probably will have an accurate model for predicting goalie performance within a few years.

But yeah, there are so many anecdotal instances of goalies who crashed and burned. Remember Jim Carey?

Anonymous said...

J.-P. You are back!

The hack that took over your old column at the last site hasn't updated in over 4 months.

Hurrah! Now you just need to hope they don't win the Cup or you'll have no writing material! (friendly dig)


Big V said...

Its funny how everyone finds a way to hate when the team is losing, but when they are winning, its everyone on the bandwagon.

I hope J-P's words come back to bite him in the ass.

sager said...

Go back to the posts from last spring; Jean-Pierre was no bandwagon guy.

Dennis Prouse said...

No, definitely not. Jean-Pierre is one of those guys I knew in Vancouver a lot, the "anti-fan". They are characterized by always peeing on the home team no matter what. They do it simply to be contrarian, and to annoy the loyal fans. It's a great little game to play, because no matter how things are going, they could be better, and even when they are good, hey, they are going to get worse soon, right? You can't win an argument with them, because they constantly move the goalposts, vehemently denying that they ever did so.

Anonymous said...

Jason Spezza:

"It's not our fault we're not winning."

"It's stupid I got penalized"

I, me, mine. I, me, mine.

Good luck on the links Jason.