Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hilariously Bad Officiating

Last night's tilt between Montreal and Ottawa left everyone unhappy. Whether you read the Montreal blog or the Ottawa one, everyone has something to complain about.

While the Senators were clearly jobbed of a goal late in the second period, Montreal fans can point to the total lack of Ottawa penalties as proof that they were not getting it all their way either.

This definitely has an effect on the flow of the game. While Montreal only really showed up to play for the first period, the lack of penalties called as Ottawa could apparently do no wrong (except when scoring, yuk yuk yuk) provided little incentive to work that little bit harder. Ottawa having that goal called back could have totally deflated the team had Montreal not already quit on them, and Ottawa then took gratuitous advantage of the "compensatory" officiating in the 3rd.

The officiating has to be fixed. While everyone wants to make sure that the officials on the ice get the call right, the emphasis has to be on getting the call right first. Officials deliberately not calling penalties is just as influencing to the game's flow as deliberately calling penalties.

We have to decide if we want the game decided by the players or the officials.

And if we can ever get that sorted, we can then move on to deciding if we want the game played by the rule book as it stands, or as it is currently interpreted.

Fix the officiating, then we can talk about changing the rules.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Alfredsson's Injury Points The Way

First, the hit from Wednesday:
Despite the baying for blood, based on this highly pixelated video I would call it an unfortunate hockey incident. Hockey is a contact sport, and sometimes the contact is felt a little more than other times. So the fact that there was no penalty on the play doesn't bother me.

The word today is that Alfredsson is gone for four to six weeks. So he might be back before Spezza is, with maybe a couple of weeks to go before the Olympic break. Actually forget that, this is the guy who only missed, what, one game last year after breaking his jaw? Iron Man Alfredsson will be back in less than six, unless the injury is worse than we've been led to believe -- even though really he should rest easy and come back slowly. If he doesn't come back until after the Olympics it isn't the end of the world.

Because as we saw yesterday, this team may not get to the playoffs. Let's be honest here -- if Alfredsson is the one straw that makes the difference between playoffs or not, then this team is not ready to compete.

And that means the rebuilding has to continue. If we can get Spezza scoring again and find him another productive winger to go with Michalek, we'd be a lot further ahead. On the subsequent lines there is some tweaking we can do -- I think that if Cheechoo can find his mojo again, he would still be overpaid, but it would spread the scoring threat around even more.

Behind them we still have a lot to do to make the defense corps effective. Karlsson has potential -- his time in Bingo showed that -- but he is a couple of years away from being a top-two defender, and his small stature may always be a liability. Volchenkov and Phillips are top-four defense, easy, but behind them we have a whole lot of mediocrity -- guys who are good enough to fill out the defense corps at reasonable prices. Sure, Carkner brings other assets to the table, but he's not top-two and I don't think anyone would argue that.

In goal, I like LeClaire. I think his record thus far this year, as has Elliot's, suffers more from the lack of scoring up front and the lack of defensive discipline. Given decent defense, and more production up front, both of these guys are capable of holding the fort.

Of course this is all a bunch of hot air. Murray knows what needs to be done, and I'm sure he's working on doing it.

But as of now I would rather miss the playoffs and keep Alfredsson healthy for next year rather than rush him back just to squeek into the playoffs.

Merry Christmas

Please don't drink too much eggnog. Even if it is a cool refreshing glass of reality check.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Spirits

As your present this year, I've decided to pretend that last night didn't happen.

Not that the outcome was terribly surprising if it had happened. Defending Cup Champions, their rink... and what with Ottawa bringing their poor defensive team plan and a goalie ready to be lit up like a Christmas tree (welcome back, Mr. LeClaire!)...

At least the bloggosphere seems to recognize that the problem last night was defense, not goaltending. I guess that's a present for LeClaire.

Next game Saturday in Buffalo, before back home to meet Montreal on Monday.

Merry Christmas, Ottawa Senators fans!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Two players notched their 300th career point this weekend.

Mike Fisher did it on 143 goals and 157 assists over 574 games.

Jonathan Cheechoo did it on 168 goals and 132 assists over 475 games.

Congratulations to both players, and we all sincerely hope that their production on the ice only get better.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Ruutu Hit

SenSay on the Ruutu hit last night:
So my issue is this; If Ruutu’s hit wasn’t a penalty, by the letter of the rulebook, how can a suspension be justified, without first altering the rules? This goes to integrity. You cannot create new rules out of thin air, based upon nefarious criteria, criteria I might add, that were not present in the past.
See also Steve Warne's comments:
They could try all kinds of things to clean things up. But read my lips. The NHL doesn’t give a crap. This is what they’re selling. Don’t like it? Too bad.
My view is that the officials should enforce the rules on the book before looking to enforce non-existent rules.

Honestly, it's this kind of naked brutality combined with the studied indifference of the on-ice officials, especially in PLAYOFF!!! hockey is what makes me wonder if I'm really a hockey fan or not.

UPDATE: no suspension for Ruutu. Just a fine. Which I guess means that the NHL admits it isn't really a violation of any rule, but they want to be seen to be somewhat discouraging of it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spezza's Year From Hell Gets Worse

Isn't that great? Jason Spezza out with a knee injury, could be three to six weeks, but it could also be two months. Unfortunately for him, this means no Olympics for him this year -- not that the Olympics were really in the cards the way he was playing. I mean look at Mike Fisher, who looks like he is having a career year, and even he isn't a shoe-in. The commentators last night were discussing his merits as a "specialist" in a checking or fourth line role.

But last night there was ugly all over the place. The Leafs won by virtue of the fact that they were less ugly when it counted. The "tying" no-goal with thirty-odd seconds to go was a fair cop -- Toronto was the better team last night and deserved the win. And really, that's what we need -- a Toronto team that is worth beating. I am tired of kicking puppies.

I'm not going to dump on Elliot -- lazy ass line changes deserve to be punished severely, and last night they were. Similarly Kuba was in the wrong place at the wrong time and deflected the wrong puck the wrong way, and it was Alfredsson's bad position on the play that let Beauchemin get the shot off.

On the good side though the Leafs gave up odd man rushes three times early in the second, and the Senators converted on one of them. And poor coverage of Spezza during the power play gave him the opportunity to get it right, which he did.

But aside from that, the big guns were fairly quiet.

I think that Spezza has been a big factor in creating opportunities for Michalek so far this year, so he and Alfredsson will have to find some chemistry but quick with whomever is cycled up with them.

Say what you want about Spezza's low production this year -- but the team is not improved with him sidelined.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Secondary Scoring

So Alex Kovalev bagged his 400th career goal on Saturday night... well and his 399th and 401st too. His 11th career hat-trick too, since we are pilling on statistics. I think that I like Alex Kovalev. I like his skill, his flair with the puck, his play-making ability. However I think I am beginning to think that the actual amount of production he is getting is somewhat less than we would expect given his rather generous salary.

I remember two or three years ago, the complaint about the team was that there was no secondary scoring. The Pizza Line did the business, and everyone else had poor output showing.

This year it seems like we are all secondary scoring. Fisher and Michalek are perhaps the closest thing we have to primary scoring. And it is good to see the scoring threat spread around a bit more than in previous years. However with most games being one-goal games, I think the team would be in a much better position if the top-compensated guys started producing more. Kovalev and Spezza should be our top producers. (Let's face it, we've all given up on Cheechoo, so anything we get out of him is a bonus.) Super Alfie is the gift that keeps on giving, and today he has the most points on the team.

The team as a whole has to get it done more.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Welcome to the Healthy Scratch

After a week of Google Analytics showed me that nobody reads any of this except me, I decided to split Red Glory into two weblogs.

Formula 1 content remains on Red Glory.

Hockey content is now here at the badly named Healthy Scratch.

I did this because a couple of the blogs I follow for hockey perspective were celebrating their one-year anniversary this week -- and I've been doing this longer. OK, all of a month longer, but still longer. So it occurs to me that since I've done all of no promotion for the 'blog, I should consider doing some. And to make the blog more palatable for potential link exchanges, I should split the content up.

I'll let you know how this goes.

Update: ok, I have to go through the history and see how many back-links to older articles there are... because they are not there any more.

Update II (The Updatering): This has been done, backlinks should work properly again.

It's Cherry's Fault

MD Blames Don Cherry For Hockey Violence
A Toronto neurosurgeon speaking at a Regina seminar about concussions in hockey says the promotion of an aggressive style of play by commentators like Don Cherry is contributing to serious injuries in the sport.

"He's a negative influence," Dr. Charles Tator told CBC News in reference to Cherry, a popular personality on Hockey Night in Canada. "The aggressive, lack-of-respect hockey that he preaches — we need to get that out of the game."
Cue the baying hounds.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Enough Brain Damage Already

Enough Brain Damage Already:
[...]Mr. Burke is regarded as one of the smartest thinkers in hockey management, perhaps in part because he never went through the mind-numbing apprenticeship that is an NHL playing career.[...] In Russia, as it happens, hockey culture evolved out of low-contact soccer traditions rather than from the arts of war and, as a result, clever puck movement is still prized over mindless pugnacity.
This is why my favorite kind of hockey is four-on-four sudden-deathvictory overtime hockey. Even in the NHL, the guys can't screw around hitting each other -- they have to play the game.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Know what I hate?

(Part 2 of a continuing series)... yeah, well too bad, I'm gonna tell you.

I hate this current "The Senators Are Awful On The Road" schtick that is popular through the blogosphere. Why did they earn this? Because they want 1-3-1 on their recent road trip. So let's review:
  • Boston: The Senators stole a point from Boston. Anyone who tells you otherwise is planning the Stanley Cup Parade down Elgin for this June an idiot.
  • San Jose: The Sens roll into California suffering jet lag and somehow don't manage to beat one of the best teams in hockey in their own rink. Somehow this is a surprise to people?
  • Los Angeles: The Kings are fourth in the west, but are tied with the leading Sharks on points. Again, somehow the Senators don't manage to beat one of the best teams in the league in their own rink.
  • Phoenix. The Coyotes are sixth in the west, and therefore should be playing to the same level that the Senators are playing at, but only if you totally ignore the fact that the schedule thus far this year has flattered the Senators efforts. Charitably this could have gone either way. Realistically... well, it didn't go our way, did it.
  • Anaheim. Ok maybe I rated them higher than they deserved, but this game was by no means a gimmie.
When you start the season with a soft, leisurely extended home stand against tired, travelling teams who are playing back-to-backs with a marathon road trip, well it is no wonder the results were different.

If you step back from the last-5 or last-10 perspective everyone gets stuck into, you'll see that this team is barely holding on to the bottom of the playoff positions, which is about where we expected the team to be. Yes this road trip was bad. Yes they were flattered by the early schedule. But you know what? On average, we're getting about what we expected.

Once the Senators get into the softer, tired, dispirited teams (Anaheim and Philadelphia, just to pick two names from a hat) then naturally they do better against them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Don't Throw Elliot Under The Bus

The Senators drop another one on the road. So far this road trip we have an OT-loss in Boston, losses in San Jose, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Today we are up for Anaheim, and let us all be honest that a win today is highly unlikely.

Of the lot, the point salvaged in Boston was a gift, as would be a point stolen today in Anaheim. Realistically, the results of this road trip are about as can be expected.

At the beginning of the year I had my doubts about this team. I hoped that Michalek and Cheechoo would combine to compensate us somewhat for the loss of Heatly -- and I think we can all agree that Michalek has exceeded our expectations. Mike Fisher is on pace for a career year. Alfredsson continues to lead in all areas of the game save goaltending. LeClaire has made some incredible moves to keep the team in games they had no business being in.

The problems that have come up were not entirely unexpected: Kovalev was always referred to as enigmatic (which is a fancy five dollar word meaning inconsistent). The team still lacks at least two top-four defencemen, no matter what miracles Volchenkov and Phillips have been working. Karlsson showed though his stint in the AHL that his game on the small ice is steady, and now he needs to add the NHL caliber polish to it. Defensive discipline in general is, as it seems always to be, a continuing problem for this team.

Some problems were unexpected. Cheechoo was always assumed to be an under performer, but has turned out to miss even those expectations. Jason Spezza can't find the back of the net, something which nobody saw coming. And LeClaire was taken out for a month while riding the bench -- something which will make this year's highlight reel when the season's story is properly told.

Combine this with scheduling circumstance which granted the Senators a soft schedule of abnormally soft opponents, many of whom were playing far more frequently than the Senators and travelling much more, let the Senators draw out some more wins than perhaps they should have. Now, when the shoe is on the other foot -- with the Senators travelling more and playing game after game after game -- the losses are starting to pile up the same way the wins did earlier.

I'm not saying this team is as bad as this road trip is making them look. But they are by no means as good as they looked at home, either. The truth is somewhere in between, which is where they stand today -- tied for seventh in the east, grimly hanging on to a playoff spot.

The one thing I am going to say though is that I don't blame Elliot for the Senator's woes. I think that Elliot is a fine goalie who is being let down by the guys on the ice in front of him. I think he's been thrown into the deep end here and since he isn't a #1 goalie then we are seeing the results. Maybe LeClaire could have stolen some of these games that the rest of the team have been trying to give away, but then again maybe not. But ragging on Elliot is not going to fix anything.

The bottom line is that the team needs to get it done at both ends of the ice, and on this road trip they have not been doing that, and Brian Elliot just can't work miracles.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gameday Prediction: Senators at San Jose

My quick prediction: Sharks win in regulation. Final 3-1 or 4-2.

  • The Sharks are the best team in the league. Ottawa is not. Edge: Sharks.
  • The Sharks are playing at home, Ottawa is on the second game of a road trip and is out of their timezone. Edge: Sharks.
  • The Sharks have Dany Heatley. Ottawa has Brian Elliot, who is a fine backup goalie, but come on, he's a backup. Heatley vs LeClaire might have been interesting. Heatley vs Elliot is a bit of a foregone conclusion. Edge: Sharks.
Hopefully there will be a highlight reel tomorrow morning.

Oh, and I for one don't want to see some juvenile "revenge" dished out on Heatly. He left, let's move on and play some hockey.

Hockey Night In Toronto

There's a reason why CBC prefers the Toronto game nationally:
The absence of the Toronto Maple Leafs cost Hockey Night In Canada at least 250,000 viewers on Saturday night. The show’s 7 p.m. ET game, with the Leafs playing, had been averaging more than two million viewers. With Toronto idle on Saturday, a large segment of the southern Ontario market tuned out and the audience dropped to 1.783 million. Hockey Night aired three games: Washington Capitals-Montreal Canadiens went nationally, with Calgary-Columbus and Boston-Ottawa seen regionally.

Monday, November 30, 2009

December Scares Me

I said before the game on Saturday that I didn't expect a win. A point would be nice, although it would have to be a stolen point. With the Senators playing their third game in four nights, and their fifth in eight, it had been a long week.

Tuning in for the third period showed me I was right. Most of the guys were just plain out of gas in a way that Washington had been on Monday. Boston played a very disciplined defensive game -- the dark shirts always seemed to outnumber the white shirts in the Boston end, and they always seemed to be between the white shirts and the Boston goal.

Michalek's goal with 18 seconds to go was grand larceny in the first degree. I love this guy's speed and instincts. He's dangerous whenever he gets on the ice, no matter who the opposition is or how the game is going.

So I think the team should be grateful for their stolen point as they leave Boston.

Looking to the immediate future, December looks like this. This month features a game every second night, except when that rhythm is broken up by a back-to-back. Most of the back-to-backs involve travel, too. The only time they have two consecutive nights off is during the League shutdown on the 24th and 25th. And they close out the month with another back-to-back.

It was nice to have several long gaps in October and November, but the team will pay for that this month and next, as the schedule is compressed everywhere to allow a gap for the Olympics.

This will be a long, hard grind that could be the measure of this season for the Senators. It does look like there are more home games than away games, which is probably good for the team -- but does nothing to help the team recovered from a tired home crowd that may be suffering a little from too many games too close together.

First Anniversary

Down Goes Brown lists the highlights of Brian Burke's first year as General Manager:
November 29, 2008 - While outlining his strategy at his first press conference as general manager, Burke delivers his infamous quote about "proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence". Confused Leaf fans rush to their dictionaries, and are disappointed to discover that every one of those words means "terrible goaltending".
One year in and I think it is safe to say that nobody expected that the Leafs would go in this direction. This year is a total write-off -- and thanks to the way the draft picks have been pissed away fallen, there isn't much prospect of starting the rebuild in earnest next year, either.

It is a shame, too. Despite all the glee we take in watching the troubles of the Leafs, I really think the NHL would be a better league if the Leafs were any good. I have long said I would rather the Senators beat the Leafs 3 games to 2 over a full season rather than this kick-the-puppy thing the Leafs have going now.

After this many years, I'm starting to feel sorry for the puppy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Trending Bad Officiating

Well the Senator's braintrust had a meeting with the officials following last night's game, only adding fuel to the blogosphere (Sensay) (SensTown) (6th Sens). Now it is always the case that the home crowd complains about bad calls against their home team, and the absence of calls against the opposition. But I agree with the numbers, there is something going on -- someone has it in for the Senators.

The thing I don't get though -- is why. Why are the officials tilting the playing field? What would they gain by artificially weighing things against this team? Who might they be trying to punish -- Murray? Melnyk? Alfredsson? Leclaire?

Heatly? Nah...

Until we can understand the motivation, we really can't solve the problem.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

LeClaire Watch, Day 3

LeClaire didn't show at practice this morning, and Mike Brodeur has been called up from Bingo to backup Elliot. So, this isn't likely to be a short injury.

We knew an injury-prone goalie would be a fun ride, but who saw him getting taken out while riding the bench?

(Update: TSN says a broken cheek bone that requires surgery -- he's gone until after Christmas. Nice.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

As Predicted

Listened to the third and OT on the radio. It sounded like Washington just ran out of gas in the third, and the Senators closed in, worked hard, and made the chances count when they had to. The shot count in the third was 18-3 for Ottawa, and 4-0 in OT. Even if they had fallen in OT I think the single point would have been a worthy reward of the comeback effort. However, the team got the goal in OT, so two points it is.

Caught the highlight reel on Sportsnet and that OT goal was something else -- Fisher redirecting the puck in the air into the net. But we'll take it.

Here's hoping LeClaire isn't hurt too badly from either the Saturday incident or the puck tonight. LeClaire can't buy himself any good luck, can he?

Next up: some well-rested New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, Columbus the night after that, and then Boston on Saturday. The Senators will roll into Boston in the same boat that the Capitals were in tonight -- the third game in four nights, and the fourth game in six. Given this schedule, it would be foolish to expect that this winning streak will continue. If the team can keep their heads down, play some simple hockey, they should be able to steal some points by the time the week is done.

High Pressure

(Sorry, thought I'd pressed "publish" on this earlier.)

Watched the Sens game against Buffalo on Saturday. And that was a nice game to watch. I was worried after the first period, when the Senators appeared to keep Buffalo in their own end for most of the period, only to surrender the first goal of the night.

In the second it all came together much better, with good pressure through the end and no stupid mistakes. This carried through the first eight minutes of the third, after which point it got interesting -- the team sitting back more than a little bit, and Elliot being unable to stop to two quick goals that Buffalo put in. After that it was a race between the Senators love of the penalty box (we shall speak no more of this, thank you Chris Neil) and the Buffalo intensity to try and draw back into the game. At the end, Buffalo was pressing 6-on-4, but was unable to capitalize. Elliot made some scrambly looking saves to preserve the win.

Alfredsson had a stand-up game and was rewarded with two goals and an assist and was present at both ends of the ice. The captain continues to lead by example on the ice. Fisher and Michalek were both threats all night. And Kovalev was only conspicuous by his absence -- oh wait, he really was absent this time.

Spezza took it from Don Cherry at the first intermission. Personally I like this Jason Spezza more than last year's model. Yes, last year had more goals, but this year's is more concerned about making plays and then getting back to help out in his own end. Spezza's stats may end up worse on the point total, but on the whole the team is better off. Now if this year's Spezza can step up the goal scoring while keeping his new found discipline, well that would be a win all around.

LeClaire left after the second after taking a ugly looking stretch to his neck. Hopefully he'll be OK to return soon. (Update: Elliot starts against Washington, which is to be expected; but LeClaire is backing him up and there have not yet been any call-ups which implies LeClaire will be back in action soon.)

While the outcome was a good one, the Senators have to continue to win these kinds games. Buffalo was coming off of a loss the previous night, so they were a tired team playing their backup goalie.

Next up will be a stronger test, but still one the Senators should treat as winable -- Washington gave away the shoot out to Toronto on Saturday, and on Monday will be playing for the third time in four days. Washington should tire if the Senators press enough.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Veska Toskala's Shoot-out Win

Am I the only one who noticed that Toskala's shoot-out "win" against the Washington Capitals last night came courtesy of a broken stick and a complete miss?

Gerber could have "won" that shoot-out.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

6-2 -- for the Senators? You sure?

Wow. A win against Pittsburgh, pizza, and the Leafs lose a shoot-out nail biter.

Cheechoo and Michalek each got another goal, and Fisher continued his points rampage with three assists. Oddly, Alfredsson ended up with only one point, while both Spezza and Kovalev had none on the night. Most of the production of late seems to be coming from the "lesser" lines, but it is nice to have production happening. If the top line can get it going again, we'll be better off.

(I have to admit, I'd have liked to see either game, probably more the Toronto game. The recap makes it sound wild. I mean -- tying goal to force overtime with 2.7 seconds remaining, less than 40 seconds after the go-ahead goal was scored! And Toronto comes away with a loss! Entertainment, plus the good guys win in the end.)

Wow. What a night. Wish I'd been there.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We Sure Ain't Calgary

That third period was ugly. Sure, LeClaire did the job, but really, again, he shouldn't have had to. The Leafs carried the game to the Senators much more than the game went the other way, and the shot count shows that. Fortunately for Ottawa, Toronto has even more trouble finishing, but the fact of the matter is that the Leafs ran over the Senators several times.

Even with all that said, LeClaire sure made some super saves in the 3rd, even if luck played more of a factor than some might like.

At the other end of the ice, Toskala looked steady, but again, the Senators didn't seriously rattle his cage any.

I liked Kovalev's efforts to set up Mike Fisher; good on Fisher to finish some of his opportunities. I also like Spezza's defensive discipline. Too bad about his lack of offense.

The problem is that this really was a battle of mediocrity. Ottawa came up the winner tonight, but it was never a sure outcome. I didn't come away feeling like I had been entertained.

Monday, November 16, 2009


OK, so I only watched the last ten minutes of the third, plus the OT and the shoot out. But one thing springs to mind:

That one point that the team escaped with was a gift.

The dying seconds of that last penalty kill featured a mad scramble with two or three juicy rebounds and a cross-crease patch to a Ranger who was standing there looking at a wide open net and somehow managed to miss.

It should have been over right there and then.

The OT was played reasonably well by both teams and I have no complaints, really.

As for the shoot-out: Elliot stood on his head to take things to the seventh round. (Has Elliot ever won a shoot-out?) And no less than three Senators had the opportunity to win this. But they failed to do so, for the same general reason that the team can't win: they can't put the puck in the net.

We should take our point and be thankful.

Friday, November 13, 2009

One Thing I Don't Get

One thing I don't understand is how people can slam Pascal Leclaire while at the same time admitting that our defense corps is not up to scratch? Take this missive about last night's game:
You can point the finger at Pascal Leclaire and Alex Kovalev for having another bad game but to me, the Senators are carrying an inept set of defenseman who have zero defensive acumen and zero character on the ice.
...ok, that's a bit more even-handed than I first read it. Here's a better one:
Holy crap Pascal Leclaire. I thought I kind of put you on notice about those soft goals. I get that they’re going to happen, but they shouldn’t be happening to us first! That’s Martin Gerber Bush League Goaltending. You’ve got to step it up a bit here buddy. I understand there’s a lot of pressure to playing in a Canadian market, and I get that you had the flu, but there was a reason we were so excited only 15 short games ago. You seemed to deflect everything; point shots, criticism, redirections, invitations to the orthodontist. You name it, and you just weren’t having it. Find your mojo Pascal, and do it quick. Brian Elliott is chomping at the bit.
Really, how can you blame Leclaire for failing to back-stop the team when he is being put in situations that he shouldn't be in?

This has long been a pet peeve of mine. I never thought Gerber was the incompetent clown that many made him out to be. I have long thought that Gerber was a solid, if unspectacular goalie who didn't get the necessary support from the guys in front of him.

There are many nights when Martin Brodeur couldn't win with these guys on the ice in front of him. Blaming Leclaire for everyone else's failings is just short-sighted.

Conspiracy Theory

Sensay examines the suspicious penalty record of this year's Ottawa Senators.

This all feeds into the "fighting" debate because the single best argument in favor of fighting is that it is required so the players can regulate the rules-breaking that the officials don't call penalties on.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ottawa as a Sports Town

Ugh, maybe I didn't need to see the Philly game tonight. Perhaps the less said about that the better -- I'm sure the usual suspects will trot out the usual saws. Instead, lets poke some bears.

So Out Of Left Field is muttering that the attendance drop at Scotiabank Place is the end of Ottawa's romance with the Senators.

The thing of it is: Ottawa isn't a Sports town. Never has been. What Ottawa is, is a government town. And as such, the residents treat their recreational pursuits as entertainment. As in, the pursuit of fun.

And losing, as we all remember from those gym classes in primary school, isn't fun.

Now there are some people in this town who are truly passionate about their sports. The thing of it is that there are not enough of them to maintain a sporting enterprise through the inevitable rough spots.

Anyone doubting this can only look to the parade of people who stepped up for their opportunity to own the Ottawa Rough Riders or Renegades or whatever. And then lost their shirt, and stepped aside for the next group in the parade. Heck, some owners even came around twice (hello Gleibermans!) When the team was winning -- at least, according to the history books, there is some suggestion that it was winning -- the fan base was there. Once the wins started to dry up, so did the fan base. The end result was the CFL left Ottawa not once, but twice.

Similarly, the triple-A baseball team. When the Lynx were winning, people flocked to the stadium. Once that ended, so did the fans. And now we have a fine baseball stadium that stands empty with insufficient parking and isn't on any major transit service.

The hype surrounding attempts to bring back the CFL or baseball to Ottawa is always interesting, because after the prospective ownership group, the most "support" seems to come from the municipal politicians and the media. What makes this interesting is that both of these groups end up being the loudest supporters, but probably expect to go to the games for free -- or even, as is the case of some sports reporters, get paid to go. If you ask the average fan in the city (forget the average citizen) you get indifference, at best.

Now in some respects hockey is an exception to this rule. The 67's have a built-in fan base of hockey parents plus kids who are hoping to be the next generation. They also have very modest costs, which means they can live within their gate receipts. And the Senators will always have a value intrinsic to the NHL franchise that they represent.

However, as far as the fans go, there is a real possibility that a lack of production on the ice will be reflected in a lack of fans in the arena.

The more we look at this season unfold, the more the Senators start to look like a mid-field team, one which at best can be described as hoping to sneak into the 7th or 8th place for the playoffs. Management isn't giving me the feeling that they know they should be rebuilding the team for a run a few years down the road -- Murray's actions seem to indicate he thinks that he can still "tweak" this team back into a contender. And I really think that ship has sailed.

The problem is that the average fan has to be asking himself: will I be entertained if I go to this game? And if his definition of "entertainment" is "winning", then he is less likely to get the money together and go. I mean, if I'm dropping $200+ on a seat and parking (or the required hour on a bus) and "food", I damn well better get a win out of it, right?

Ottawa has neither the deep tradition of hockey that provides a large number of people who love the game such as Toronto. They also don't have a fan base used to supporting their team through long, painful droughts such as... well, Toronto. And they don't have the sheer numbers of population within travel distance of the arena to ensure that even if the percentage of people who fall into the above two categories starts to dip, they will still be likely to sell enough tickets to make money on the whole exercise no matter what the product on the ice is like. Such as... ok, I'm going to say Toronto again.

In the short term, Ottawa fans will return when the results on the ice return.

If the team lasts into the long term, eventually there will be a tradition of following the team. The kids today will turn into the fans of tomorrow, and as long as the team can hold their attention they have a really good chance of building a more robust (and failure-tolerant) fan base.

As a business, the Senators' ace is the value of the NHL franchise. And since that franchise can be moved (it is possible), there will always be a lineup of people willing to put money down to own it. They may prefer to move the franchise to another market, one where they think the team might be more viable... but they won't just blow away in the wind like so many CFL teams have.

Now personally I think this is overblown hype at this point, yes, even after I've written all the above. Looking at the state of the economy, with people worried about their jobs and all is not conducive to $200 trips to the hockey arena. I think any attendance dip both here in Ottawa as well as Toronto can be traced more to people (and businesses) worrying that they can't afford to spend the money than to a drop in interest in the team. At this point, it's a warning, not a disaster in the making.

Make no mistake about it, a prolonged drop in gate receipts will be a stern test of the current team ownership. But really, to succeed in this town you have to be a winner.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sensay on hitting in hockey

SenSay talks about hitting in hockey.
I love this GAME. I don’t love the idea of a person suffering a life long injury for no good reason, and least of all for my entertainment.
I'm still grinding through the backlog in my RSS reader, so there are likely to be a few more quick-shots like this in the near future.

The "Hot Goalie" Excuse

So yeah, I went away for a week. Sun, sand, private pool, and the single biggest cockroach I've ever seen (who cooperatively went away for the rest of the week after he'd been tipped).

But before I went away, there was this game against the Atlanta Thrashers. Maybe you remember? If not, let me refresh your memory:

October 31 2009, Atlanta at Ottawa: 3-1 (Final). Shots on goal: 21-51 -- not including those blocked or redirected enroute to the net. In other words, Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec made 50 saves, permitting only a single Mike Fisher offering into the net.

And lo, did the commentators say: The Senators were stymied by a hot goalie.

This is what, the third time that this particular excuse has been trotted out? I remember the first game of the year in New York, when Henrick Lundqvist was granted the dubious honor of being dubbed the first "hot goalie" that the Senators ran into this year.

The thing is, it is just an excuse. It only works if the lack of scoring is unusual. If the Senators of early 2007 (who could seemingly put the puck in the net at will) had been stymied by a goalie, then yes, THAT would be a hot goalie.

But if you just can't score, and that state of being is a regular situation, then you can't just hand wave the whole thing off as running into a "hot goalie". The whole point of the game is to put the puck in the net. If you can't do it, then you have a problem.

And the Senators can't do it regularly, which means they have a problem.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NHL Suspension Flowcharts

Down Goes Brown reveals the NHL's secret flow chart for handing out suspensions.

...I need a "Hilariously Bad Officiating" tag.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Time Out

Friday, October 30, 2009


Well I turned on the TV last night, and found the Senators down 3-0 with about half to go in the third. In short order there were two more, and so even the goal each from Ruutu and Kovalev didn't really make much difference.

If I had to pick a word to describe the little hockey I saw, it would be "lethargic". Tampa had a much better jump, of course since they were up by so much it isn't surprising that they were. The Senators were always half a step slow or half a step behind.

Others have bemoaned the absence of our elite center (Spezza) and our elite defender (Volchenkov) and our elite goalie (Leclaire)... but the team has put in listless efforts even with two of those three on the ice before. (See also most of 2007-08.)

One commentator noted that there now appeared to be bad blood between Tampa and Ottawa, "expansion cousins" that they are... but really, it is more like bad blood between Ottawa and "any team with Steve Downie on it". Downie's joust with Ruutu was hilariously bad, even though Downie seemed to be getting the upper hand, he seemed to be appealing to the linesmen to put a stop to it. Just sad, really.

We all know there are going to be nights like this -- Tampa was on the receiving end of one last time they were in Ottawa. It was just our turn. Just forget about it and move on to the next game.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Karlsson's Development

The rumor of the day is that Future Savior Erik Karlsson is about to get sent somewhere, either back to the Sweden so that this year doesn't count against his three year rookie contract, or to Bingo.

Either way, the move would be good in the long run for the Senators. Karlsson is showing streaks of competence along with flashes of rookie nerves. Stepping down from the NHL would let him learn his skills, let him come back to the big league with more experience and confidence.

See, Karlsson is about the future. Let's be honest here -- is this group going to bring us the Stanley Cup? No? Then let's be smart about how we grow our talent.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Bounces You Get...

You know, up until about the end of the game, the Senators played fantastically well. There was good pressure in the offensive zone as all four lines worked to create quality chances. There was none of this crazy-assed scramble in the defensive zone. Back-check was good. The defense took good risks at good times to jump up into the play. Elliot looked steady, and made the saves when he had to, even if he wasn't as sternly tested as his Bruin counterpart.

And Alfredsson even bagged himself another short-handed goal. What's not to like?

And then the third period came to an end. I'm going to be incredibly generous and say that we were treated to a text-book perfect example of how the empty-net sixth-attacker is supposed to work. And not once, but twice. The Bruins were disciplined, patient, and made the chances come to them. Say what you want about that "second" time-out, the Bruins made the effort work.

Now I'm not sure how you go about training to defend against the sixth attacker, but these guys are smart, I'm sure they'll think of something.

The Senators let the second point get away from them on Saturday. There are going to be games like that, where an opponent who has no business being in the game comes back to win -- the Senators were in that position last weekend in Montreal. So this is part of the season.

Overall, there's a lot to like from Saturday. And if they keep doing what they are doing, then the points will continue to come.

Friday, October 23, 2009

That's Two

OK, so I didn't see any of Thursday's game. But it seems to me that the Senators dug themselves a mighty deep hole in the first, thought about it for the second, and then came to life in the third -- although didn't have enough to actually get the second point.

I'll just observe that this this is the second game in a row where the Senators didn't play well at the beginning of the game. Worse, it sounds like they were almost eager participants in their own demise, what with turn-overs and bad deflections and... well.

It is nice to know that the team is capable of turning it on again when needed.

I'd just prefer that for once it wasn't... needed.

The sky isn't falling or anything, but it sure is looking a little lower than it did this time last week.

An Object Lesson In Demographics

The title of this Pension Plan Puppets article says it all: Would the CBC ever drop the Leafs from the National Broadcast? I doubt it, and I have numbers on my side.
On Average the ratings for HNIC Game 1 are in the 1.228 million range. When the Leafs play it is 1.262 Million. When the Leafs do not play it is 0.972 Million. That means on average the CBC loses approx. 289,000 viewers when the Leafs do not play. That is a drop of almost 24%.
...aaand of course, he's right. Toronto is, for better or worse, our "national" team. Lacking a detailed breakdown by region, we can guess that this is mostly due to the high density of frustrated Maple Leafs fans in Southern Ontario. But over all, these numbers explain precisely why we have Hockey Night In Toronto.

One thing we can't measure is whether or not there is any inertia in these numbers -- that the national audience identifies with Toronto simply because Toronto has lead the national broadcast for so many years. Although I've just written that and I immediately discount it. For households where HNIC is a Saturday tradition, the majority of viewers probably don't care who is playing, they just care that there is a game on.

One question the article does ask, although perhaps more rhetorically:
Imagine if the Leafs were good!
I think if the Leafs were any good, the numbers would go up a bit, but only due to the bandwagon effect where fair-weather fans pile on. One could say that this season (so far anyways) marks rock bottom for the Leafs fanbase, and probably represents the absolute lowest that these numbers can go. And if MLSE can make money with this kind of team on the ice, it adds much more credence to my "Timbits" theory.

(You know, where MLSE could ice a team made up entirely of Timbits hockey players, and they'd still sell out.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hockey Night In Montreal

A few quick thoughts about the game in Montreal. Last year, Montreal provided two of the more entertaining pieces of hockey I saw all year. The whatever the team's failings, they always seem to be an energetic group which works hard and makes the other team want to win. So I had high hopes that this would be a good game, featuring speed and effort from both teams.

First. Pascal Leclaire, I am a believer. The Senators had no business being in the same area code as the Montreal Canadians for the first twenty minutes, let alone being ahead for much of the period. That frantic, seemingly disorganized scramble in front of the Ottawa net is becoming more of a routine -- and the more I see it, the less concerned I am, because I just know Leclaire will be there.

Leclaire didn't rob anyone in particular tonight. It is just the same rapid fire chances that the Senators are giving up. In previous years, enough of these would have gone in that we'd have gone into Coach's Corner down at least three.

For all the headlines about the rest of the team, my first, my only star of the night is Pascal Leclaire.

(But even so you have to shout out to the penalty kill performance. Leclaire can't stop five guys coming at him, he needs a little help, and tonight the PK showed patience and discipline.)

Second. I like how Montreal was a curious combination of classy and crass. Crass when Kovalev had his puck possessions for the first couple of periods, yet classy when Kovalev scored his goal to stand up and cheer for him.

I've been amazed watching him -- the details in his puck handling skills are phenomenal. I think once the rest of the team can learn to use his skills, good things will happen more frequently.

Third. Michalek -- fresh from a hat trick in Ottawa, threatening again in a short-handed situation. I love it. He could yet turn into an elite forward.

Overall. One of the commentators tonight noted that the Senators' recent good form can be attributed to a run of softer teams that they have been facing. The real test will come next month and the month after, where they will be playing teams somewhat higher up the food chain. But still, the Senators have traditionally struggled to pick the low hanging fruit, and it is nice that this team, right now, can pick up the so-called "easy" points when they are available.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Well due to various reasons I only got to watch the first period last night, and in keeping with the "it's still early days" theme, I'm going to be thinking positive today.

I think putting Michalek, Cheechoo, and Spezza together is going to look like a stunningly brilliant move in the long run. Their first game together and not only did they combine for the only goal of the night, I counted three quality chances that this line put together. Once these guys really click, the goals will come.

I think that Alexi Kovalev is going to be another player that other commentators hate but that I really like to watch. Kovalev was magic with the puck several times, carrying the puck deep into the Penguins' zone, or feathering a pass through the sticks of unsuspecting Penguins players right on the tape of a waiting Senators teammate. Oh, and a no-look drop pass to the left of the Penguins goal that a Penguins defender picked up. I think that again, Kovalev and Alfredsson will start to look very good together.

I still don't like the defensive scramble in front of the Ottawa net. It seems far too frantic and too uncoordinated. But LeClaire is there, most of the time. Commentary from last night blames three of the four goals on funny bounces. If we can get some defensive discipline then this team will look a lot better.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brian Burke's Evil Plan

It occurred to me this morning -- maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs are Brian Burke's expression of genius. Maybe, just maybe... Burke is trying to tank his way into a decent draft pick.

I mean, what else could seriously be the goal here? He's made no bones about wanting tough players... who may be tough, but they sure can't play NHL-caliber hockey. He's kept around Toskala, who's play certainly isn't up to redeeming the failures of the rest of the team.

The entire team is untradable now.

Think about it.

Brian Burke is a frickin' genius.


UPDATE: The only problem with this theory is the fact that Toronto no longer has a first round pick in 2010:
The Toronto Maple Leafs' first-round pick will go to the Boston Bruins as the result of a trade on September 18, 2009 that sent this pick along with a second-round pick in 2010 and a first-round pick in 2011 to Boston in exchange for Phil Kessel.
So I really don't know what's going on in Toronto. Could you really make a worse hockey team if you tried?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Would You Like Fries With That?

Quick, cheesy links dump with extra cheese:
  • Sensay wants to know: where are the goals? Because, you know, you'd like the top line to actually behave as if it was the top line. So far, basically all we have is way more secondary scoring than we had last year -- and a penalty shot.
  • The 6th Sens wishes the Battle of Ontario was a little more relevant. I've long said that beating Toronto would be far more satisfying if it was hard-earned, and Toronto wasn't a bag of pucks truculent bag of pucks.
  • Sensay again, this time musing on the difference between the instigator rule and unsportsmanslike conduct. He basically comes to the same conclusion that I have on the subject of fighting -- that is, if the reffing was any good at all, there wouldn't be a "need" for fighting in the game.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not As Expected

So up against a "truculent" Leafs team back-stopped by a rookie goalie, the Senators managed to score two: one ugly high-sticked goal, and one penalty shot goal.

The high-stick was ugly. I sure hope that it was clearer in HD, because I couldn't follow the puck through those replays one bit. I said while it was "under review" that I wouldn't be upset if it was called back. But it ended up counting, so onward we go.

The penalty shot was another iffy call (check out Why Have A Rulebook? for all the angle-shot details), and I agree that it should have been two 2-minutes instead of a penalty shot and two minutes... but crowd favorite Alfredsson did the business on Michalek's behalf, and again, onward we go.

I've commented before on the poor quality of the ref'ing, and I think that Toronto would be fully justified in being upset about the way the calls went. But for better or for worse, this is the way the damn game is played right now, and as a Senators fan I like to see the bounces coming our way for a while. We all know that on another night the bounces will go against us.

But back to the game. The Leafs seemed very timid through most of the game; one wondered if they thought that "truculence" was a reference to someone's truck. There was not very much smash and grab on the ice at all -- well Volchenkov's smash excepted, of course.

The Senator's defensive discipline was better this time out. Again the PK did well, only being beaten once. I thought the game was played well, limiting the number of chances served up, and LeClaire coming up with the big saves when he needed to.

I find this goalie growing on me the more I watch him. Nothing builds confidence like actually doing what needs to be done. I don't think he'll be any better if the team just hangs him out to dry like they did so often with Gerber, but while the team is intact in front of him, he's building a good track record of reliability.

No, my concern comes from the opposite end of the ice. Through two games, we've scored four goals, only one of which can count as a "quality" chance -- Spezza feeding Alfredsson in New York. Ugly scrambles in front of the net are a fact of life, but the goals are not pretty. I like pretty, but it looks like I'm going to have to settle for ugly.

If anything, the offence was better in New York than it was in Toronto. To my eye, there were more quality chances available in New York, and it was mostly Lundqvist's play that kept the Rangers ahead. Had some of those chances gone in, the momentum would probably have swung the other way and the result would have been different.

But still, the team has generated very little in terms of offense so far.

It is early days, yes. But I think more was expected against a Toronto team which is not expected to feature in the playoffs this year.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Game 1: Ott 2 NY 5

Well, that went a lot better than it could have.

No, really. I liked what I saw. Ottawa stood pretty firm in the opening frame of the game, and the first two goals came from small lapses in discipline which can be fixed with a little work. Ottawa ran up the shot clock pretty well, even if most of those shots never really had a serious chance.

I liked what I saw of the Ranger's powerplay -- which means the fact that they went 0-5 is a huge achievement by the Ottawa penalty-kill. Obviously LeClaire was a huge part of that, but since the power play is a big part of scoring in today's NHL, having a competent PK is a big part of being able to stay in a game.

Spezza and Alfredsson rang up the first goal to bring the Senators back into the game -- somehow the Captain always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

After watching Kovalev go to work for an entire game, I think that his puck-handling is going to infuriate the same people who love to ride Spezza. When it works it is going to be brilliant, but when it doesn't...

So overall, I'm optimistic after having watched all that.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sundin Retires

Sens Town gives Matts Sundin the respect he deserves.

I have nothing else.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Preseason Jitters

Random, disconnected thoughts about the pre-season:

First, I'm not too excited about the results. With the exception of the second loss to the Panthers, I think the results on the scoreboard have more to do with the preseason rosters being iced against the Senators, and the preseason roster the Senators are icing. So while the win against Montreal was fun, it doesn't mean anything except maybe that Carey Price is still not back on top of his game.

Second. I like the look of Peter Regin. His solid, diciplined play would definitely be an asset on the team. Besides, thanks to his work Mike Fisher now has more goals in this season than he did in all of last season. (I jest. But not by much.) Anything that boosts Fisher's production can only be a good thing.

Third. I would like to see Erik Karlsson sent to Bingo for this year. While he's shown some flashes of skill, I think his game needs another year in the somewhat easier environment of the AHL. Right now the Senators are choking in mediocre blue-liners, and I think we will get a better look at Karlsson's potential either later in the year as an injury-replacement call up, or next year in camp again. The last thing we want to do is try to bring Karlsson along too quickly and ruin him.

Fourth. The top line of Michalek, Spezza and Alfredsson was disturbingly quiet when we've seen them go. While it will be nice to get three lines with scoring potential, the top line has to get it done.

Fifth: I don't buy that Leclaire is all that and a bag of chips. Why? I can't really say, it's just a feeling. Right now I'd take him over Brian Elliot, but I'm a bit worried about the goaltending at this point.

Finally: Thank god we don't have to play the Leafs six million times this pre-season.

Overall, though, as I have said -- nothing to get excited about. We'll have a much better picture as November rolls around.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Heatley Drama Finally Over

I would have posted about this sooner, but really, you don't talk hockey when Ferraris are racing at Monza.

So: Heatly to the San Jose Sharks, in exchange for a couple of top-six forwards.

In Jonathan Cheechoo, the Senators seem to have picked up another Mike Fisher -- a second- or third- line player who is not playing to his salary. Michalek seems to be considered a potential elite player in need of some development time.

On a strictly parts-for-parts perspective, I like this deal. Yes, Heatly scored more points than Cheechoo and Michalek combined last year. However, if both these players pan out we should end up with more of a scoring threat than just one top line. If not, then we've got more Mike Fisher.

But overall I liked the Edmonton deal more, because it included a defense man. Maybe not an elite "puck-moving" defense man, but still one was included.

Someone pointed out last night that a potential fourth line of Kelly, Neil, and Rutuu for the Senators would result in the highest-paid fourth line for the year. Now while that's not a bad thing (spreading your cap space around), it's only OK if you are getting value for money. Kelly, I don't think is playing to his salary. Neil and Rutuu, well I don't understand that part of the game.

I still think that defense is the biggest question mark for the season going forward. If we get some heroes this year, and if Leclare turns out to be the "franchise goalie" that we've been hunting for... this could work.

Count me as cautiously optimistic, and more than a little relieved that we can stop talking about this.

As for Heatley -- well I've long been on the record as wanting to move him. I'd prefer a little more upside to the trade, but at this point getting him out of Ottawa was the most important thing, and I think Murray did the best he could under the circumstances.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Your Dressing Room Forcast: Chilly

Senator's Captain Daniel Alfredsson hints that Dany Heatly may not be entirely welcome:
The best resolution to the Dany Heatley saga would be to see the disgruntled left wing traded before the start of training camp on Sept. 12, captain Daniel Alfredsson said on Friday.
Honestly this surprises me more than a little bit. The latest smoke signals suggest that Murray is about to give up on the idea of trying to trade Heatley and resign himself to sticking him back in the team come training camp.

All signs today point to Heatley reporting to training camp.

Given that, you would expect the on-ice leader to be making supportive noises, saying things like "we'll welcome him and his work ethic back on the team", "make the best of a difficult situation", positive things like that.

This is a signal to Murray that a dressing room under Alfredsson's leadership might not welcome Heatley back with open arms.

This never was the best way to be looking at starting a season, and this only makes things worse.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Over the last week or so, I have wondered if media types ever get tired of getting what they wanted.

All summer long the media has been salivating over the prospect of an actual media event with Dany Heatley. Without real, hard news to go on, the media has enjoyed the opportunity to speculate as to Heatley's real or imagined complaints, as well as to drag what is left of his character through the mud. The resulting column inches have ranged from insightful analysis through studied indifference and ending at borderline-libelous vitriol.

But last week, Heatley ran out of time to hide and popped up at a media event just before the Olympic team orientation camp.

At which he said precisely nothing new.

This led to another brief round of analysis touting how selfish and unrealistic Heatley's views on his role in the team really is. But since then, since Heatley has continued to say precisely nothing new, the story has almost totally run out of air.

Which I suppose is a 20-20-hindsight lesson for the Heatley camp. If he'd had this media event in June when the story broke, it would have been all over by Canada Day. Well until his refusal to go to Edmonton breathed new life into it, but even that would have lasted less than a week.

In the absence of facts, the media is free to churn itself into a frenzy over theories, rumors, and speculation. Throwing facts on the fire will result in a brief burst of coverage, but after that it will fizzle out for the most part.

Now the collective media has a problem: how to continue to breathe life into this story now that speculation is off the table.

Personally my view hasn't changed -- I have been a proponent of trading Heatley for hockey reasons since last season. I still think that Heatley could be traded for the proverbial bag-o-pucks, just because $7 million in cap space can buy a lot of second-line talent in today's league; any value above that, assuming it is real value and not just an assortment of random parts, would be a bonus.

But what is probably going to happen is that Heatley will still be an Ottawa Senator in the fall. He'll get roundly booed the first few games, but his trick of putting the puck in the net will win back the fans. The result will be that the fanbase will be once again firmly behind him and will feel betrayed by the Senators organization when the inevitable trade happens around Christmas.

All of which will probably generate more column inches all over the place, here included. But only on matters which are truly speculative.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fighting: You're doing it wrong

Off The Posts talks about fighting in baseball:
Oh, I completely understand why Kevin Youkilis charged Rick Porcello. The kid has a good fastball and he planted it right in the middle of Youk's back. But how does Youkilis get away with throwing his helmet at the pitcher? And why does everyone have to jump in? They should be left to settle their differences, like men. Like hockey players.
Or, you know, maybe we'd have the designated hitter, who'd be permitted to charge the mound and try to fight the pitcher. Unless the shortstop got to the mound first, in which case the DH would be obligated to fight him, instead.

Friday, July 24, 2009

To The Point

Bitter Leaf Fan Page has an article about describing something in six words or less. The author took this concept and asked people to describe their relationship with the Maple Leafs using this form of self-expression.

I didn't hear about this in time, but I wonder if they'd have published my first thought:

It's funny because it's true.

...of course, that kind of describes the Senators right now, doesn't it.