Friday, March 07, 2008


Take it away, Johnny Hates Jazz: "So much for your promises, they died the day you let me go / caught up in a web of lies / but it was just too late to know." For the record, Jean-Pierre Allard sent this off before the Sens were shut out by the Los Angeles Kings (a playoff team next year, granted).

Most hockey fans in this sleepy village are best advised to spend less time snoring or BlackBerrying, and more time watching the Senators' Excellent Escapades On Ice.

The West Coast games this week vs. the even mightier Ducks and the killer Sharks were well past the bedtime of most in Ottawa. Surely by now, you must have heard, maybe even seen video that the good guys, once again, played like little boys against men.

Far too many still think this team has as good a chance as any other serious contender to win the coveted Cup this year, now that the GM Bryan Murray has anointed himself to replace his replacement behind the bench.

Meanwhile, Mr. Smiley (AKA The Mighty Sopo) ensures the milk-and-honey propaganda stories continue to be spun.

Even the business pages are chiming in, with alerts that the Ottawa Senators need to win a Cup soon to continue being sustainable and keep drawing from the significant walk-up crowd of 7,000-plus. How soon before Father De Souza starts putting the fear of God into us by warning of a modern-day Noah's Ark disaster if Ottawa doesn’t right its sinking ship?

Given that the Senators are not even assured of making the playoffs, to even begin envisioning a championship for this current dysfunctional bunch is nothing but a pipe dream full of cracks.

Barring a major collapse, they should make it to this year's tournament. The reality, though, is that their window of opportunity for a championship has come and passed.

Their chances evaporated not so much in last year's finals which finally exposed Ottawa’s severe shortcomings in goal, defence and secondary scoring, not to mention size and toughness, nor with the shocking defeat to the inferior Sabres in 2005-06, but perhaps it came when the team was one lousy goal short of advancing to the final and beating a less mightier Ducks squad in 2002-03.

The future was then, except that no one recognized it.

In the years since, the Senators have both been unable to keep some marquee players, but have also been notorious for failing to acquire top players at the trade deadline, be it for paralyzing salary cap restrictions or questionable hockey decisions, content instead to get cheap and interchangeable parts .


Precious salary cap space is already allocated to the wrong players (Wade Redden, Ray Emery, Jason Spezza) or too much to the right players (Dany Heatley, Mike Fisher, Chris Phillips). With no immediate help to draw upon from the farm, the future suddenly looks bleaker than last May when the club foolishly and, prematurely might I add, held a City Hall celebration for winning a big can of air.

So while Ottawa is in dire need of a Cup to continue being viable from a business standpoint, this is not going to happen as long as the following factors continue to be instrumental in the club’s day-to-day operations:
  • Management that has a stranglehold on public opinion in this town and which produces the following domino effect: Writers have their hands tied in voicing critical comments, fans are discouraged from sending in their suggestions on improving the team and management and players rest on their laurels instead of making adjustments.
  • A revolving resident GM who has no clue what type of roster is needed to compete against the faster, bigger and meaner Western Conference opponents, and who has repeatedly failed to recognize the fact that you cannot aspire to win a championship without a genuine No. 1 netminder.
  • The lack of a coach who can light a fire under his players' posteriors.
  • A dressing room that reflects the very weak leadership of Daniel Alfredsson as captain. While a tremendous hockey player, Alfie is simply not cut from the same mold as Mark Messier or Steve Yzerman. No coincidence then that the Emery tardiness was tolerated for so long, or that the team is incapable of playing 60 solid minutes on almost every night.
  • A media corps comprised of far too many cheerleaders which is fast becoming the brunt of derisive comments from reporters in other NHL cities.

Perhaps the time has come for owner Eugene Melnyk to start running his team more like a business than a country club or a stable. The extent to which he and his brass are successful in the coming 2-3 years will go a very long way in determining whether or not the Ottawa Senators will continue to be the pride and joy of hockey fans in the nation’s capital or one day suffer the same fate as the Montreal Expos, another team that teased us all with regular-season success.

We all know how that worked out.


Anonymous said...

J.-P., don't criticize the Sens or Mlakar and co. will shut down your blog! :-)

In all seriousness, the gap to 8th is a scant 5 points (!) and even the 'gimme' games (Los Angeles, Toronto, Boston) look to be challenges.

Commodore has been brutal, Spezza is still making bad decisions avec la rondelle and scant few players bring 100% effort.

Miss the playoffs Sennies, then you'll finally 'get it'.


Anonymous said...

One more comment before I make myself a chicken salad sandwich and shovel some snow out of the driveway.

Murray has made HORRIBLE decisions at the managerial level:

Spezza and Heatley to 7 year deal will HAUNT this team.
Emery to a 3 year deal will HAUNT this team.

Losing Corvo and Eaves is looking horrid. Commodore is out of his element, he has no offensive presence and is SLOW. Stillman is smallish and soft. Lapointe is a homeboy, invisible on the road.

JASON SPEZZA IS LAZY. Too many lazy passes, too many lazy plays. Heatley has stopped trying since he can't get 50.

J.-P., I have been following this team since its inception.

Is it wrong that I miss Randy Cuneyworth, Alexey Yashin, Jason York and Marian Hossa?


Anonymous said...


This is just a ridiculous article

"Management has a stranglehold on public opinion?"

This is the public opinion that has figuratively crucified Ray Emery,and continues to harp on the story and throw it back at the team at every possible opportunity, and is now jumping ship because the team plays under .500 for two months.Please...

"Writers have their hands tied in voicing critical comments.."

What media is this guy watching?
The national media is almost totally down on the Sens, and what i see of the local Ottawa stuff is scarcely better...

"A revolving resident GM who has no clue what type of roster is needed to compete against the faster, bigger and meaner Western Conference opponents..."

Bryan Murray drafted or signed about half of that Anaheim team..he designed that squad..

So now he's in his first year as GM, and he's already a "revolving resident"?

"A dressing room that reflects the very weak leadership of Daniel Alfredsson as captain."

How do you know? Maybe if you were in a coma and didn't watch the playoffs last year,and only woke up on January 1 2008, you might come to this conclusion.

Ok, he doesn't match Messier in leadership...but then again, neither does anyone else, in any sport you can name..

Yzerman? Those without short memories will remember when Stevie Y was a goat in Detroit, and was partly held responsible for continuing the Wings lengthy cup drought..until he won...

Interestingly enough, the Wings, who lost in the finals in 1994-95 to Jersey, and then set a new record for points in the regular season in 1995-96( 131 with 62 wins) had a serious drop down to 94 points in the next year1996-97, when they ultimately won the cup.Yzerman's leadership,Bowman's coaching,and the decisions of Devillano,Bowman and Holland ( GM's by committee) were all questioned that year.

Interestingly enough, some of the building blocks of that team were put together by it's previous GM..Bryan Murray(1990-94).

I also sense a strong resentment towards sports media in general, or at least sports media that actually gets paid.
any monkey with 20 dollars a month can make a blog like this one, but it's certainly far from journalism, and it's also far from informed.

sager said...

Don't like it? You're welcome to submit anything you want to — although you will have to put a name to it.

It won't cost you at thing. I'll be waiting ...

Big V said...

The one thing i'd have to agree with Pierre on is the waste of money and 7 years they put on Spezza.
Yeah the guys a playmaker, but in a couple years maybe not even that long, they are going to wish they had never put the no trade it.

I believe that was the biggest mistake murray could ever make.
However I think he could "lick out" if the sens have a bad season, because Spezza seems like the kind of young gun who would wave a no trade clause and run out of town as fast as he could if the team was losing.

Anonymous said...

Well they beat the Coyotes and are 7 points out of a playoff spot.

All is well in Sensland!