Friday, December 30, 2011

Rule Enforcement

On Cheering For The Refs:
I never knew the rules. I used common sense. It’s really the only way to run a game. If officials called every penalty they saw, there would be no players on the ice and no one in the rink.
- Hall of Fame NHL Referee Bill Chadwick
This highlights the strength of, and the weakness in, the game of hockey as played in the NHL.

The problem is that many of the activities in hockey which are prohibited by the rule book turn out to be not that bad when they happen in moderation. The job of the referee is to then control that moderation and to not permit the game to turn into some kind of uncontrolled brawl. This puts the onus on the referee to use his judgement as to what constitutes an "ok" violation of the rules, and what is over the line. Different refs on different days will have different opinions as to whether a particular play is OK or not.

The problem is this variability, where certain plays are considered by the refs to be OK, but not considered OK by the players themselves. This leads directly to the problem of fighting, where players enforce their own ideas of what is acceptable or not by engaging in fights or after-the-whistle pushing and shoving -- even after perfectly legal plays being made.

The quote at the top of the article is true. If every rule infraction was called, there'd be a lot of games with nobody on the ice or perhaps the goalies playing tennis (at least until one let the puck slide into the trapezoid). But in the long run, if the rules were called, they wouldn't get violated.

The real question is, would the resulting game of hockey be worth watching?

I think it might be.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Life After Death

Remember Brian Elliot? That goalie who was so awful he got run out of town on his ass to Colorado? The one who signed a $600K two-way deal with the St Louis Blues just to stay in the league? Well he's having a pretty good year:
Could Brian Elliot Actually Win The Venzia?
Elliott currently leads all eligible goaltenders in save percentage, goals against average, and win percentage. He’s also tied for the league lead in shutouts while having started 6 and 11 games fewer than the goaltenders he’s tied with, Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick. His save percentage is currently .944, his GAA is 1.52, and his record with the Blues is 13-3-0.
The conclusion of the article is, no, he probably won't win the Venzia, and they don't suggest that maybe his fantastic start will eventually revert to a longer-term average. But it is good to see him enjoying playing behind a team that doesn't suck some success.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Well at some level we all knew this day was going to come. Brian Murray has been stocking up so much on defensive prospects that we were going to end up with a log jam on the blue line, which meant that we would have to trade some of them away at some point (bad!) but hopefully would give us elite defense prospects to offer in exchange for elite offensive prospects (good!).

Saturday that process started up as Murray sent David Runblad and a 2nd round pick to Phoenix for prospect-become-holdout Kyle Turris. Turris is expected to be the second line center that the team needs.

There are a several ways to look at this in a positive light. First, the logjam on the blue line meant that Runblad was going to have sharply reduced minutes when Kuba and Gonchar return. With Karlsson, Cowen, Gonchar and Kuba controlling the first two pairings, and don't forget Phillips is still around too. That left Runblad, Carkner and Lee all scrambling to be the sixth defenseman. And with Lee (of all people!) making a solid case for being a reliable role-player on the third pairing, Runblad ended up being the odd man out.

Even if he had stuck, in the long run there'd be salary issues. Nobody doubts right now that Karlsson will be paid elite money for the elite plays he can make. Cowen too makes the case for being paid solid money. Even if Runblad developed as we'd hoped, eventually one of the three would have to go -- and it wouldn't be Karlsson.

Secondly, there's looking at the upside of a potential second-line center, something the team sorely needs these days. Regin isn't healthy, and frankly he wasn't filling those shoes very well when he was healthy. If Spezza gets hurt again this year, the team would be in a world of hurt.

Thirdly there's the tack taken by Silver Seven Sens: that Runblad's accomplishments in the SEL, while impressive on their face, have historically not panned out in the long run. While interesting, to me it sort of smacks of well-we-didn't-really-want-him-in-the-first-place revisionist history.

So yeah, lots of positive ways to look ait.

But of course I don't do that.

Runblad is in his first season in the NHL. If there was a logjam on the blue line, and Runblad wasn't good enough to stick, he should have been sent down to Bingo where he'd be useful as an injury call-up and generally continue to learn the North American game. Next year if he didn't stick, then its time to trade. Of course you risk making another Brian Lee, and we already have one of those.

But Runblad's value is nowhere near its peak. He has lots of development to do, and a couple more years to do it in. If he was going to be an elite defenseman, his value would only go up.

So even straight up, Runblad for Turris, I don't like the trade. But throwing in a 2nd round pick, weighted lottery ticket that that is... I think we got robbed.

But in the long run things could turn out differently. Injuries aside, the Heatley deal has turned out in Ottawa's favor. I have even said so in the past -- that Heatley's defection likely accelerated the realization that a rebuild was going to be necessary. So maybe in the long run we'll think this was a good move.

Just looks expensive to me right at teh moment.

Monday, December 12, 2011

To Russia, With Lunch

And with that, the Filatov experiment comes to an end -- at least for 2011-2012.

This is one of those situations where there is clearly some information missing from the public record. On paper, Filatov did everything that could be reasonably expected of a prospect: work hard, tear things up in the minors, and wait for the call-up opportunity.

The only thing he didn't do, on paper, was tear up the NHL, and frankly playing twice on the 4th line and then being scratched five times in a row isn't likely to give him the platform to do that.

Frankly, when other players like Butler and DaCosta are getting a ton of ice time -- even if DaCosta ended up getting sent back down, you can't say that he didn't in any way not get a fair shake at playing -- while Filatov sits, there has to be something else going on.

Whether or not that something else will prevent Filatov from having a future with the Ottawa Senators, or indeed anywhere in the NHL, remains to be seen.

Even if Filatov never provides any further value to the Senators I say this was a gamble worth trying. If it had paid off, the team would have a top-six forward where it desperately needs one. If it fails, the team is out a third-rounder -- a gamble in and of itself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why Bother?

Shanahan is showing absolutely no interest in consistency or rationale.

Ryan Lambert:
Tootoo got a five minute major for charging, a game misconduct and a two-game suspension, which is placating to the Sabres to a laughable extent. It’s also a sign that the frustrating inconsistency which has long plagued the NHL’s supplementary discipline system is alive and well. It’s difficult to say exactly what Tootoo did so terribly wrong that he lost two games of his season that Lucic didn’t do worse.
Step right up and spin the Random Wheel Of Justice. With your host, Mr. Shanaha-ha-han.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Crosby Is A Hypocrite

Sidney Crosby, September 2011:
"As a League, as a union, I think we've all educated ourselves a lot in the last six or seven months. I think it can go further. At the end of the day I don't think there's a reason not to take [hits to the head] out.
Sidney Crosby, November 2011:
Sidney Crosby, a couple of hours later:
I don’t what he’s talking about. I was preaching about the hits like tonight (Pacioretty hit on Letang) , not a scrum….I don’t know what he expects after he runs a goalie three times…if he is going to run a goalie, he got to expect guys are going to get their hands in his face….he is blowing it out of proportion.
Shanahan apparently has no problems with any of this. One might suspect that if Crosby had been the elbow-ee instead of the elbow-er things might have been different.

Look, the bottom line is: either head shots are bad, or they are not. Players, Crosby in particular, can't have it both ways.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


One game back and everyone's wondering if it's not too late for Sidney Crosby to win the scoring race for this year.

Too soon, guys. Too soon. One game does not a pattern make.

Now if he goes ten games at the same rate of putting up points and goals -- maybe then its appropriate to discuss.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shanahan On Why No Shahanaban For Wolski

“Now, if I felt this was intentional, or if it wasn’t at the last instant, just prior. [If] I might have felt there was any kind of sneakiness or history of these types of offenses for Wolski, he would have been suspended.”
- Brendan Shanahan's non-explanation for failing to discipline Wolski for his hit on Alfredsson. And we of course find nothing significant in the fact that it for some reason took five days to justify a decision that was made much more quickly.

Just business as usual at the NHL, nothing to see here.

(Update: a better link with the Shahanadance.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Amateur Hour At League Discipline

This is why people don't think the NHL is serious about cleaning up the game.

To review: why is fighting permitted in hockey? Answer: because the officiating is bad.

And hoo boy, is the officiating bad.

For example, on Saturday's game against the Rangers, Ottawa player Konopha is sent off for a five minute major after boarding Ansimov:

You know, boarding is where you hit an opposing player from behind into the boards. (Note to refs: the penalized player is supposed to be behind the injured player, and injured players generally miss a shift.)

Yeah. Oops.

Next, here's a screen grab of the "incidental contact" made between the Rangers' Wolski's elbow and Alfredsson's head:

Video here.

Derrick at the Senday Observer makes the case that this totally blows Brendan Shanahan's credibility right into orbit -- if not the NHL's credibility too. And he's right.

So much for integrity. So much for discipline. So much for separating acts from intent.

I mean, you might expect this kind of "regulation-free" hockey during the playoffs, but this is just a meaningless Saturday afternoon regular season game, the kind that nobody will remember in five months.

But of course, nobody else cares.

Good on the rest of the team to claw the win back from the refs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Zibanejad Back To Sweden

So the word has come that wonderkind Mika Zibanejad is being shipped back to Sweden for the rest of the year following his 9-game audition with the Senators. I was going to write up a post saying this is what I thought would be best, but since the decision's been made it's kinda moot.

Basically my reasoning went:
  • Zibanejad needs more experience with the North American variation of the game;
  • in an ideal world, he would be shipped to Bingo in the way that Spezza, Karlsson, and Filatov were to learn the game without the pressure of the big team, with an eye to being called up if his game develops the right way;
  • Zibanejad can't be shipped to Bingo because he has a contract with SEL;
  • keeping him here burns a year from his entry-level deal, and there's no point of that because A) he's not going to be the difference between playoffs and no playoffs, and B) there won't be any playoffs this year;
  • letting him go back to SEL lets him play and develop his game in a familiar environment and retain his confidence;
  • he can still come back next fall into camp, and at that point can be sent to Bingo if further development is needed, and saves that first year from his entry level deal, meaning he'll all-around be a better value to the big club.
Put it all together and SEL is the right move to develop this player at this point.

This won't be popular a popular decision with the "Win Now!" part of the fan base, but all around it gives the Senators the best chance for his talents to grow and get maximum value from him. Remember, this is a 3- to 5- year rebuild process, not a one-season tweak.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Welcome To Ottawa, Gents

So my question of last week to a coworker was, "How long before the blogosphere turns on Anderson and Auld?"

Well, not too damn long as it happens:
Craig Anderson and Alex Auld have been brutal, and there’s no way to sugar coat that. When either of them lets in a softie, the whole team deflates and you can quickly bet that three or four more goals will follow in short order.
Now while one blog is by no means the whole blogosphere... the tide has turned.

Of course it would be silly of me to repeat the same things I said when Darth Gerber was the goat: these guys are just hanging their goaltenders out to dry, the goalie is only the sixth guy to not stop the puck, Martin Brodeur couldn't win behind these guys -- no, not Martin "No Relation" Brodeur, although lets face it he could win behind these guys either.

So yeah, welcome to Ottawa, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Auld. Pay no attention to the fans in the 300s who are already carving out your headstones for the goalie graveyard.

The problem is one of defense, or to be more specific a lack of defense. We have a veteren corps of "Disinterested" Gonchar, "Pillar Of The Community" Phillips, and "I Can't Think Of A Witty Nickname" Kuba. These veterans are supposedly mentoring the next generation of defense, which itself is made up of Karlsson, Rundblad, and Cowen. Oh and Brian "Why Am I Still Here" Lee who fits somewhere in between.

Either the mix-and-matching of veterans and kids isn't working, or some of these veterans/kids are not very good. And maybe it's just a case of development and experience, but personally I think Kuba's had his chance.

All this goes to show that it's going to be a long ride.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Early, Brutal Days

Yeah, it's early days yet. But so far the signs are not good.

I watched Tuesday's tilt against the Dearly Departed Dany and co, and Ottawa seemed to dominate long periods of play in the Minnesota end. The shot clock reflected this.

I'm still not convinced about the shot clock being a measure of a player's, or a team's, output. Tuesday demonstrated why -- Ottawa could run long periods of time in the Minnesota end, cranking in shot after blocked shot after shot, and all for nothing. Then the team would blink, and the puck would be in the back of the Ottawa net.

The fact that Ottawa hung on keeping the pressure applied until Minnesota started to make a few goal-surrendering-mistakes (or Ottawa kept cranking up the ugly scrambles) is a credit to them, they didn't get discouraged and they kept going.

Offense-wise there was plenty to like, defensively not so much.

And Mr. Gonchar, could you dial the give-a-fuck-meter up a notch or two? Because that was brutal at times.

And then there was the Avalanche on Thursday.

I didn't watch, and by the sounds of things, nobody showed up to play. But the shot clock was being run up quickly by Colorado: at one point it was 3-1 or 4-1 and Anderson's save percentage was still higher than the Minnesota goalie's, even though he'd surrendered way more goals. That tells you something, even if I'm not sure exactly what.

Same old same old.

So I expect that this is going to be the rhythm of the year: blowouts mixed with the occasional close-lost game and a very light sprinkling of victory.

And lots of games where the shot clock is cranked up, but nothing comes of it, and because none of these kids can play defense, blink-and-your-done type goals given up.

We knew it was going to be brutal... but really.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Maybe I do care

So I says to Jenn: Look, I don't really care about hockey right now. I've watched none of the pre-season games, I'm not following training camp, I have no idea who's up or cut from the roster, I don't know what the schedule is, I just don't care.

And Jenn says: Quick, which is worse, losing a limb or the leafs winning the Stanley Cup?

And I replied: which limb?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Looks like we might be able to put the Random Wheel Of Justice away.

Houses Of The Hockey explores Shanahan's first efforts as discipline czar.

The highlight for me:
Negotiating around intent…can overly complicate behavioral modification, especially in an area like hockey where a certain level of violence is not only expected but applauded. The league would likely be far more successful in their efforts if they chose to strictly define the behaviors they want to eliminate and then consistently applied suitably large consequences to those behaviors regardless of the actors perceived intent or motivation. Meaning no more debates about whether an action was a “hockey play” or not. No more considerations paid to whether “he really meant it”.
I always said: if fighting is permitted because the reffing is bad, then fix the reffing. This is an excellent start.

(Oh, if you've noticed all the pictures are gone, that's because my hosted computer where the images are stored took a dump last week and I have not completely recovered it yet.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An American Explains Hockey (pretty well)

Apropos of nothing, and because it is summer and there's almost nothing better to post, here is Micheal Lopp explaining why hockey is a sport:
Hockey is a sport on the clock and that clock is relentless. Look away and you might miss the second that changes the course of the entire game.
Preaching to the choir here, but a brilliant defense.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dangerously Low Levels Of Mustache Hair Avoided

Brian Murray has been hard at work since firing Cory Clouston from his position of Head Coach. Murray has been looking hard at the history of those privileged to hold the position of Head Coach for the Ottawa Senators, and after much deliberation has determined that the principle failing has been a failure to commit.

Thus enters the mustache.

Wearing a mustache in today's world is an act which required dedication and persistence in the face of a blizzard of Gillette and Phillishave advertising, all with one message: if you ain't in the playoffs, you must be shaving.

Similarly, a head coach must be dedicated to his system and persistent in espousing it to a young team suffering in the face of a blizzard of hockey media types who are keen on finding a scapegoat to hang the latest loss on.

Looking back through Murray's history of head coaches, it is clear that this has been a deficiency that has until now been steadfastly avoided:
  • John Paddock? The man obviously owns shares in Schtick.
  • Craig Hartsburg? Smoother cheeks than Mr. Clean.
  • Cory Clouston? Was he even capable of growing facial hair?
Thus, Murray's search for a head coach has ended with the hiring of this mustache. Former Red Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean has agreed to wear the mustache for the foreseeable future, and speak for it when necessary.

Murray can rest assured that this highly qualified Head Coach can set a road forward on the ice for the franchise. However he must be aware that should the mustache prove insufficient to the challenge facing it, he will be forced to seek out a beard as a fill-in.


(Seriously, Mr. MacLean, welcome to Ottawa. We're lucky to have you, and I hope that Mr. Murray can give you the pieces needed to build a foundation for future success.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Finishing Your Check

Ken Dryden:
Finishing your check" is so familiar a phrase it seems it must have been part of the original game. It wasn't. It means, as a checker, going after the puck carrier so that even if he makes a pass, you keep going and run into him, too late to stop the pass, but not too late to stop him from continuing up the ice with the play. This is allowed. Indeed, it's a strategy coaches insist upon. Yet if a player is hit before a pass gets to him, this is interference, and everyone agrees. Worse, "finishing your check" rewards the player who is too slow to reach the puck carrier in time, and penalizes the puck carrier who is quick enough to make the pass ahead of the checker. Worse, it puts in physical danger the puck carrier who has to deal with a checker coming at him at high speed, and the checker who has to deal with a puck carrier with his stick up to protect himself. Or worse, it encourages teammates of the puck carrier to take protection into their own hands and "obstruct." All this happened because coaches decided it was a good thing for players to go hard at a puck carrier, and referees got tired of reminding them it wasn't.

What would happen if "finishing your check" was understood as interference? If a checker faced the challenge of getting to the puck carrier in time, or risking a penalty? If a checker was made responsible for his speed, if he had to have it under control, able to go in fast enough to make the hit but slow enough to stop or veer off? To depend on the legality of personal choice, not on the illegality of "obstruction?"

We need to see hits from behind and hits to the head for what they really are. We need to see finishing a check for what it really is. These and other plays are not traditions of the game worthy of protection. They have brought danger to the game. They have hurt the game.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


The NHL cracks down on the most serious issue of the playoffs thus far.

...and they wonder why nobody takes them seriously.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It is over: Murray Stays; Clouston Goes

Wow. Get sick and want to be dead for three days and the world goes all to hell.

So. Briefly: I don't mind retaining Murray. I have been starting to think that the recent problem with the franchise has been higher up the foodchain than Murray is. And yes, the problem is that there really is only one seat higher up the organizational foodchain than the GM: the owner.

The GM ultimately works for the pleasure of the owner, and if the owner is convinced that we are one tweak away from winning it all, and he has particular tweaks he wants made -- well, that's what you as a GM do. You do your best to talk him out of it, sure, but at the end of the day, the owner's pleasure will carry the discussion.

I hope that Murry and Melnyk had a come-to-Jesus talk before the "dump salary" order that was issued in January. The current group of guys were clearly not going to get the job done, and the last four seasons have showed a steady decline in the franchise's fortunes.

Melnyk must have either come to Jesus or has decided that the rebuild is over and permitted Murray to see out this rebuild effort.

Or... Melnyk hasn't been the meddler this scenario makes him look like and Murray is responsible for the last four years of mediocrity. In which case, Melnyk is an idiot for retaining Murray. But frankly I don't see this as the most likely scenario. I think that Melnyk is no idiot, just a passionate fan who wants to see his team win, now, and happens to have the GM's private line.

Three years? I still think that's optimistic for a rebuild. It all depends if Melnyk is going to let Murray do his job.

Over to Coach Clouston. I don't think the problems on the ice were entirely his fault, but I don't think he is entirely blameless. When he swept in here a year and a half ago and turned around another hopeless season into a hopeless season with potential, I think we all got carried away. Frankly though the problems with the franchise have been much deeper than that, and that showed when everyone clearly stopped listening to him this year.

But the fact of the matter is, the players clearly did quit on Clouston, and many of those players remain.

Since this is a rebuild, and Clouston's contract is in fact up, now is an excellent moment to make this change.

So, in summary: I provisionally approve of both actions.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Live Hockey

So yeah way back on 25 March I went to probably the only game I will see live this year, the Washington game. A friend and I were going to try to see a game and we let things slide a bit, and this looked like the best option to see some "good" hockey at a price we could afford.

I always say, if you are only going to one game a year, spend the bucks to make it a good one. See something that you can't see on TV. For me, that means being in the 100s. And counter to the price-differentiation signals sent by the club, I usually prefer to be in the end or corner.

This time we were in 112, off the visitor goalie's left shoulder. We were a bit higher up than I might otherwise like, but when you buy your tickets at the last minute you can't be too fussy.

For the game I enjoyed what I could see -- but for some reason I had a harder time following what was going on. The on-again off-again high-sticking penalty was a total mystery to those of us in the stands and I had to read about it on the internet.

We did get to see a neat goal scored right in front of us at the beginning of the third, which was nice. The shut-out and win were gravy. All in all a good night out.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anderson Next To Test Goalie Curse

My favorite headline from today's action: Craig Anderson agrees to spend 4 years in Ottawa goalie graveyard:
GM Bryan Murray announced that goalie and ice girls aficionado Craig Anderson(notes) has been signed to a 4-year deal; TSN is reporting Anderson "will earn $12.75 million over the course of his contract, averaging $3.187 million per season. The club takes a cap hit of $3.18 million in the deal."
Now to be fair, I'm sure that "Mister" Anderson will only have to spend a year or two in the graveyard, then he can join previous answers to the curse like Ray Emery in being paid to either play in Bingo or not be here at all.

Personally my objection to this contract is the term because A) not too many goalies remain good over this timeframe, and B) if they did, Ottawa wouldn't end up with one (see also Leclaire, Elliot, Auld, Emery, Gerber...)

I'm just concerned that Anderson is being painted in the blogosphere as some kind of savior -- whereas he will ultimately be blamed for the poor play of the team on the ice in front of him (see also Leclaire, Elliot, Auld, Emery, Gerber...)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Must Laugh, Lest I Cry Instead

The Ottawa Sun claims "Mister" Anderson has been injured, but won't talk about what the problem is.

Indulging in the Internet's favorite pass time of drawing out trends from one or two small datapoints, I'd have to say that "Mister" Anderson is threatening to turn into another Pascal Leclaire: play lights-out at the start of his tenure, then play badly, then cop to an injury... the next step is he vanishes for the rest of the seasons.

Welcome to Ottawa, "Mister" Anderson. You'll fit right in.


Much Nothing About Ado

Gary Bettman's 5-point plan to make the media hurting stop improve player safety:
  • Brendan Shanahan will work with the NHLPA on equipment safety
  • Players will be removed from the ice if they show concussion symptoms after a hit
  • Additional penalties or fines may be handed out to teams and coaches for players who are “repeat offenders”
  • An engineering firm will evaluate all 30 arenas for safety issues
  • A ‘blue-ribbon’ committee of former players will examine topics relevant to the issue
These all sound good, but as with all things political, effectiveness depends more on what gets delivered than what gets announced or who studies what.

The only one with any potential to make even mid-term changes to the game is the engineering study, and that just changes the area in which they play.

Meanwhile, not wanting to be outdone at being seen busy at improving matters, the team GMs today announced this:
The general managers followed commissioner Gary Bettman's lead Tuesday by announcing they'd like to see a tighter enforcement of rules on charging and boarding.
This is nothing more than pandering to the wider world beyond the arena and sports media. If the Prime Minister of Canada is talking about your league, even if it is in a vague passive-aggressive non-descript circular political say-nothing way, you have an image problem. And the way you solve image problems today is you present the image of addressing the issue in a calm, steady, sober manner and hope that the wider world forgets about you before you actually have to produce anything*.

We've talked about the vague bullshit that is the charging rule before**. The question is, how does the "boarding" rule actually stack up?
41.1 Boarding – A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player or goalkeeper who checks an opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to be thrown violently in the boards. The severity of the penalty, based upon the degree of violence of the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.


Any unnecessary contact with a player playing the puck on an obvious “icing” or “off-side” play which results in that player being knocked into the boards is “boarding” and must be penalized as such. In other instances where there is no contact with the boards, it should be treated as “charging.”
By the rule, any throwing of a player into the boards is boarding, just as any player-on-player check is technically charging. It is more vague regulatory bullshit. The clarification says that the contact has to be "unnecessary", the only purpose of which is to throw the matter back into the hands of the officials to make the instant judgement -- based on whatever directive the league is overtly or covertly giving to officials.

This I think is another example of NHL hypocracy, who insist on the one hand that the officials are given a free hand to enforce the rules -- but at the same time issue directives like this one to "enforce more tightly".

(I also think it is a little amusing to see that technically a goalkeeper can be assessed a boarding penalty, in practice any goalkeeper who is close enough to throw an opposing player into the boards is way hugely out of position.)

The problem, as it is with the headshot issue, is one of determining intent on the part of the checking player. And that, as any good lawyer can tell you, is always doubtful.

One suggestion I found today: On Finishing The Check:
Deeming a player without clear possession of the puck an illegal checking target would most certainly decrease the number of hits in the league [...]
Reducing the situations in which a player can be checked will reduce the opportunity for injury. Of all the noise that has been generated on this issue, this seems like a good place to start.

*= ...a pretty safe bet these days, but that's a wider problem.

**= even to the point of copy/pasting that sentence from last week's post, yeah, I know.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fear Not

...but I think that while the current goalie tandem of "Mister" Anderson and "I need a nickname" McElhinney might notch more wins that would otherwise be expected down the stretch, the end outcome will be one that is most favorable to a good draft position.

Of our two new miracle men, Anderson seems the steadier. It is hard to draw conclusions from just a single outing* about McElhinney's viability as a goalie, but he seemed less calm in net and thrashed around a lot more -- a problem which has plagued Ottawa goalies in the past (hello Pascal Leclaire!).

The recent wins Ottawa has produced over such top-of-the-east teams as Philadelphia and Tampa -- not to mention "hot" teams like New Jersey -- I think is more due both to those teams underestimating Ottawa since they are in the league's basement, and to the AHL callups playing with the nothing-to-lose that they have.

Eventually reality will kick in -- better teams will start taking the Senators more seriously, and the kids will start to make mistakes.

Fear not for thy draft pick, Ottawa.
*= but since this is the Internet, why let that stop anyone?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Knee Jerks

Lessard getting a five-minute major and a game misconduct for his hit in Florida on Thursday is stupid beyond belief. It was a clean hit on the puck carrier. The fact that Timmins got spun around a bit gave the officials the opening they needed to strongly disapprove of that kind of conduct*.

We've talked about the vague bullshit that is the charging rule before. Almost a year ago, as it happens.

The league wants to be seen to be sending a message -- the problem is, the message being sent is "we're a bunch of over-reacting, knee-jerk idiots".

I'm almost a bit sorry that Florida had to eat the bad karma that results in Karlsson firing up his game and leading Ottawa to the 2-1 victory.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Oh! And not to be out done -- the refs in Boston give Chara a boarding penalty for a play where the player hit the ice before the boards! Like the announcer says: how can it be boarding if the player hit the ice first!
*= and lets not get into the total hypocracy that is the playoffs, where this kind of play would be so routine it would not be commented on, let alone cause a stoppage in play. The league can't have it both ways.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Having watched the video (and enjoyed the gory close-up) of Bruins' defense Chara spreading Montreal's Pacioretty into the center stanchion. Pacioretty lost consciousness due to the play and has damaged at least one vertebra.

Personally I agree with the on- and off-ice calls of this play -- it was a late hit on a player who had already chipped on the puck. That's text book interference, and that's what Chara served two minutes for.

The howls from the Montreal fan base can be ignored as partisan ignorance. With the way the random Wheel Of Discipline spins in the NHL, it was quite possible that this might have been seriously punished; the media loves to get out in front of these things so they can fill the moments until the next game with "I told you so" type comments.

The League's result of the Wheel Of Discipline is actually the right call. This was an unfortunate injury from a play, which while being "against the rules", was not worthy of further punishment.

This is not the kind of "violence" that the NHL needs to get rid of. The dangerous hits blindsiding players (such as claimed Spezza earlier this year) and the hits to the head (such as has claimed Crosby's year) have to go.

And the fighting has to go to, but for me that's an old saw.

I'm no fan of violence in hockey, but I don't think this incident is really worthy of the coverage it is getting.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Big Steaming Pile of Meh

So yeah, I should probably do some kind of fare-well post for the dearly departed Chris Campoli, but to be honest I really can't be bothered. Campoli showed flashes of competence without being noticeably worse than his team mates most evening, and all for a relatively affordable amount of money. In other words, the ideal 3rd-pair defense man.

Problem is, this team is drowning in 3rd-pair defense players; so now Campoli is gone in exchange for a draft pick.


In other meh news, Ottawa claims goalie Curtis McElhinney off of waivers, intercepting his move from Anaheim to Tampa. This is clearly a move to ensure that Lehner spends more time working the AHL than riding airplanes between Bingo and wherever Ottawa is playing.

With all the changes that have been happening, I find it rather hard to get excited about the team for the rest of the year. Maybe I am a "frontrunner" or a bandwagon-rider, but I look at this roster and think "so what?"

I did have the Boston game on for a while, and while it was dry, it showed a few flashes of entertainment. But only a few. It did make the perfect cap for the awful day I had at work on Tuesday: slightly painful, with only hints of joy. But maybe that's more of a commentary on me than on the game.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ottawa Buries Another Goalie's Career

Having tricked* Pascal Leclaire into reporting to the Senators' AHL affiliate, Murray today ensured Leclaire would stay there a while by putting him on waivers. Leclaire's fragile nature being common knowledge, the likelihood of another team picking him off waivers is approximately zero.

This is one of those moves I don't really understand. If Leclaire reports, and there's every indication he will, Melnyk is still stuck paying Leclaire's salary. And frankly at this point there's no need for cap space, Murray having done nothing with the availability provided through the departures of Fisher and Kovalev -- well except for paying for "Mister" Anderson's increased cost over Elliot's salary.

(Thinks: Murray did the same thing to Cheechoo last year, and I didn't understand it then, either.)

Leclaire played some lights-out games for the Senators. I thought he showed glimpses of being the true #1, franchise goalie that the Senators have been waiting for. His second biggest problem was that when he wasn't getting let down by the lack of defensive zone coverage, he was getting let down by the almost total lack of generated offense at the far end of the ice.

However, since he couldn't stay healthy for 60 consecutive minutes, it was all academic anyways.
* I kid. (I think.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Man Has A Plane To Catch

Le Artiste has left the building. Alexi Kovalev has played himself into a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In exchange, Brian Murray has got himself the princely return of... nothing. Well OK, a seventh round draft pick, which lets face it is nothing, which might turn into (hold your breath for this) a sixth round pick, which lets face it is... nothing.

The real win is the $5 million per year cap space freed up, and more importantly to Mr. Melnyk, the something like $1.2 million in real money he no longer has to pay for the rest of this year.

Since Kovalev was gone at the end of the year anyways, converting on this trade to relieve real money pressures now is a win for Melnyk. And even at the trade deadline Kovalev probably wouldn't have returned much more than what Murray got for him as it is. Given that, the sooner he's gone, the sooner some other sucker owner starts to pay his bills.

So I count this as an organizational win, although not a hockey win.

Personally I liked to watch Kovalev do his thing, skate, shoot, and play. The problem is, he didn't do much of any of that with any frequency or reliability. With this new world order, I'll still get to watch him on the highlight reels, but he won't be dragging down my team the rest of the time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just Visiting

So having a bunch of time this weekend where I basically do nothing but wait for the kids to start fighting so I can break them up, I got to thinking. And I'm not sure we should get exited about "Mister" Anderson remaining here past the end of this season.

Let's game this out.

Lets say Anderson basically keeps playing lights out for the rest of the season. The Senators win a bunch of 1-goal games that they would usually lose (and by a larger margin than one goal, too... but that's another problem.) The Senators rise in the draft and lose out on the cream of the crop. Anderson basically resurrects his reputation as a miracle worker -- and after back-stopping Ottawa, especially after Ottawa had shipped out anything/everything closely resembling talent, to any number of wins, who wouldn't call him a miracle worker? -- and expects to get paid accordingly.

"Accordingly" would appear to be "more than $7.5 million over two years", which is what he turned down in Colorado. He might want more years, but I suspect that the per-year amount of money he'd sign for would be at least what he turned down in Colorado.

Ottawa is still very much a "rebuild" team. Would he even want to be here, knowing that his term would still be likely shorter than the "success" end of the rebuild? Never mind that the fans and media stand at the ready to run him out of town at the first sniff of being a mere mortal. I say that unless he falls in love with the city, he says no, and elects to try free agency. Given the state of the goalie market, where anyone remotely resembling a hot goalie can command big bucks, he'll probably find the money he wants at a team further along their rebuild curve.

So, long story short: if Anderson succeeds, he's probably gone. And Ottawa is still short two goalies.

What's the alternative?

OK, so Anderson returns to the form that got him canned in Colorado. And really, with this Ottawa team in front of him, there are not many people who would expect a stellar record resulting from the end of this season. The media and fans demote him from Mighty Leaf Blower to Goat in three days.

And frankly, would the team even want a goalie that "fit" the poor state of the rest of this team? The Senators would pass on resigning him, and he gets dumped into free agency, where he will probably find a back-up gig somewhere, although not for the money or term he wants.

So short story... err, shorter... if Anderson fails, he's gone, and Ottawa is still short two goalies.

So "Mister" Anderson is either going to be a delightful interlude or business as usual... and then we get to see what Murray (or whomever Melnyk hires to replace Murray) is really going to do about goaltending.

The only way I see this happening differently is if Anderson shows flashes of brilliance, but not enough to resurrect his reputation as a miracle worker. He doesn't get the signals that free agency will result in buckets of money for him. He for some reason decides he likes it here. He figures that the rebuild will be shorter rather than longer, and that the team's future depth is defense -- which will help him do his job, meaning that even if he ends up with losing games it will be because of problems at the far end of the ice. Murray doesn't get fired, and signs him after the regular season -- but before free agency -- for a couple of years for around $3 million per.

If all that happens... he'll stay.

But frankly at this point I think he won't be back.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

As Long As There's A Process

So there is an immediate upside to Anderson: he can win err not lose a shootout.


We are now awaiting this singular performance to be the cornerstone of Mr. Anderson being hailed "the next franchise goalie" by the masses, an event which will be quickly followed up by those same masses trying to run him out of town after two consecutive losses.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Respect The Contract

I think the media, both professional and blogosphere, seriously needs to lay off Chris Phillips.

Phillips negotiated for, and got, a no-trade or no-movement clause of some sort. This was given to him as part of his compensation. Presumably had the no-movement not been on the table, Phillips would have asked for more real money to make up some commensurate value to him.

Now everyone is on him to waive his no-movement, and several quarters are giving him a hard time about his potentially not waiving, meaning that the Senators are not able to maximize the value they can get for him by trading him.

The perceived risk here is that Phillips will not waive, and then sign elsewhere at a rate that Ottawa can't or won't match -- thus losing him "for nothing".

Heck, after the last couple of weeks of blather about it, "not living in Ottawa" might be a required part of his compensation, something Ottawa can't deliver.

Think about it this way: would it be right for the club to go to him and ask him to waive salary so that they could either save money or get some players for a playoff run? For one, the league wouldn't let them, and for two -- it is trying to re-negotiate after the deal closes.

Phillips is having an off year here, and frankly I don't think the club needs both him and Gonchar next year to mentor the young 'uns. Of the two, I would rather keep Phillips, but facts are that barring someone being in an excessive WTF mode, Gonchar is unmovable and he will be here in Ottawa next year. That makes Phillips the odd man out on July 1st, trade or no trade.

From a professional standpoint Phillips could use a deep playoff run to help his value in the offseason. To put up some results while separating himself from the mess here in Ottawa would only help.

But the bottom line is: he has the no-movement.

If he wants to play out his contract with Ottawa, let him play out his contract. We'll all see what's up after then.

He's earned that respect.

(Different player, but we've been here before.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Hits Keep On Coming

Brian Elliot has been shipped to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for similarly-struggling goalie Craig Anderson.

(Am I the only one who hears Agent Smith from The Matrix saying "Mister Anderson" every time they read Crag's last name? ...yeah, probably. Ok then.)

Elliot wasn't an elite goalie by any means, but I think his name is best added to the (long) list of goalies who's performances were worsened by the dubious quality of the players in front of him. I know the blogosphere loved to hate on him.

I am a bit stunned that Murray managed to find a taker for Elliot (my precise words when reading the news were "Holy Sh!!"). However, the exchange of struggling pending-FA goalies (Elliot is R, Anderson a U) points to two clubs who think that maybe a change of scenery might spark a return to form for at least one of these players -- and frankly at this point in the season the clubs both probably think they have nothing else to lose.

Hard to see who wins or loses with this trade. But at the rate things are going, we won't have to worry about it too long, as there is sure to be more movement.

Energy Line Totally Disbanded

Jarko Ruutu lands in Mighty Duck country.

I have to admit I am surprised both by how quickly Ruutu was shipped out, and by how little the team got back in return -- a 6th round draft pick, basically noise. Ruutu wasn't heavy salary, but I suppose when you are circling the drain, every dollar that you don't have to spend, counts. From a business standpoint, that makes this trade a win for Ottawa. From a hockey standpoint the short term is a wash, since Ruutu had been scratched for the last few games. Long term...

Kind of interesting to me that even though Ruutu had been scratched so much recently, someone thought he was worth picking up. And here's us thinking the reason he was scratched was so that the team could showcase Brian Lee!

With Kelly already gone (even if he hasn't left the country yet -- story is there are visa issues), this leaves Chris Neil as the sole survivor of the so-called "Energy Line".

I didn't particularly like Ruutu's play -- his role as a pest was to get other players riled up and draw penalties, and I really don't like this aspect of the game. It also didn't help that Ruutu had a role in perhaps the most ridiculous episode of recent Senators history.

Still, he had a part in one of the bright lines from the past year or two, and so we'll miss what he brought.

Incidentally -- this is the third trade that has followed within 12 hours of a call-up from the AHL club. I guess if bodies are coming in, then somebody has to be going out...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fight Night

So on Saturday morning, I saw the 17-minute "highlight" reel of the Islanders-Penguins game the night before. This reel included such classics as the full-ice-brawl, the blind-side sucker punch, a skater fighting a goalie, and someone leaving the bench to get involved in a fight. By the end of it, Pittsburgh had five skaters on the ice and three on the bench. Everyone else had been tossed out.

On Saturday there was the predictable round of lamentations that this was a disgrace to hockey. On Monday, Pittsburgh owner Mario Lemieux gets on his high horse over the lack of action taken over the event, saying something to the point that he needed to "reconsider his involvement" with the league.

The whole thing was sickening to watch.

The kicker for me? The commentator on the highlight reel mentioned that the evil deed perpetrated by Pittsburgh had been deemed a clean hockey hit. Now I have not seen the offense myself, but this goes to show you how out-of-control the "self-enforcement" of fighting has become, when a clean hockey hit leads to this kind of carrying on.

The sick feeling carried over into Saturday's afternoon game between Ottawa and Edmonton, where there was some pushing and shoving after some non-event or other on the ice. There were a couple points in the game where I nearly gave up on it.

I'm for contact in hockey.

I'm just not for fighting.

If the players fight because the refs don't call the rules, then either fix the rulebook or fix the reffing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Domino Two

Brian Murray kept the hammer down on the rebuild machine, sending Chris Kelly to Boston in exchange for a second round draft pick. By dealing another highly popular player, Murray confirms to everyone else that nobody should consider themselves safe.

Considering that again Murray didn't have to take salary back to get the trade done, and got a pick out of it, this trade is at least a short-term win for Ottawa. Longer term it does depend on the actual draft -- or whatever deal Murray puts together with this draft pick.

Personally I'm sorry to see Kelly go. I personally had him listed as "tradable but would prefer to keep". This is because Kelly is the kind of player that brings a solid, two-way game every night. When he centered the third line between Ruutu and Neil, this "energy" line would frequently be the line that could get the important goal or make the important play to bring a game back on track. However with Ruutu all but shipped out as an impending UFA, the energy line was probably doomed anyways.

Unlike Fisher, who won't be back at Scotiabank Place this year, Kelly is back here on Friday with the Bruins and since he's still in the east will be a regular visitor back here.

I would like to thank Kelly for his hard work for the team, and hope that the crowd gives him a warm reception when he comes back on Friday.

Good luck for the future, Chris, and thanks.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Rebuild Starts Here

Brian Murray's first move in the rebuild effort happened today, when Mike Fisher was traded to Nashville in exchange for a 1st round pick and a conditional pick.

Ottawa gets in return:
  • a first round pick, value to be determined later;
  • possibly a second pick, depending on how far through the playoffs Nashville goes (meaning Nashville is Ottawa's favorite playoff team this year), value to be determined later;
  • cap space savings to the tune of $4.2 million per year; and
  • real money savings to the tune of $4 million this year and $3.2 million next.
All together it means that there is real money savings in the future, plus it gives Murray room to take on more short-term salary in trades from other teams in order to make other deals work.

All in all, a solid rebuilding move.

Since Fisher is popular with the local fan base, I wonder how popular this move will be.

Despite not playing up to his salary level, he was still an asset who could make things happen. Fisher had some good years here, and he will be missed both on the ice and in the stands.

Best of luck down the road, Mike. I hope the fans give you the love you deserve when you visit us back here.

(That darned modern logo is everywhere, it seems -- do you have any idea how hard it was to find a picture of Mike Fisher stylin' the classic jersey?)

These Guys ALSO Go To 11

I'm guessing the Spinal Tap jokes will be thinner on the ground this year than they were this time last year.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What I'd Do

So it has been a couple of weeks since the money behind the team announced that he'd seen the light, the cup isn't coming to Ottawa this year after all. Mr. Melnyk also announced that both Clouston and Murray would remain in their jobs for the rest of the year.

Color me underwhelmed.

I am of two minds about this.

Firstly, I approve of keeping Clouston as the coach for the rest of the year. Mr. Melnyk is already paying two other guys to not coach the team, he doesn't need a third. I've long said that the coach isn't the problem with this team.

Secondly, I have mixed feelings about keeping Murray. I think that the on-ice product that the team has now has to be laid at his feet, no matter how badly the ice was tilted against him by his predecessor. Murray's handling of the big team's roster can only be described as poor, as if he is spending his time looking for the single missing piece that would return the team to their 2007 form. The problem is that those single pieces that he's come up with have underperformed, while at the same time key pieces have been slipping through his fingers.

On the plus side, he's drafted like a bear. The prospect larder is well stocked, perhaps to the point where the team will have to trade some defense prospects to avoid wasting their value. Forwards-wise we have some prospects who should fit in the second- and third-line positions quite nicely, even if we don't have any elite prospects in the pipeline.

The problem is, the draft is a long time away. The run up to deadline day has been about trading, and Murray's trading record isn't very strong.

He's also still making noises about a "one year rebuild", which isn't that much of a softening of his "one tweak and we're in" pattern of action over the last few years. So while he says everyone but Alfie and (we presume) Karlsson are for sale, I don't buy it.

So personally I'm worried about keeping him in place through this important trading period. The only thing keeping him in place as far as I'm concerned is a lack of a credible candidate to drop in right now to replace him.

My personal attitude is that we are looking at a full rebuild here, and the sooner Melnyk signs on to that the sooner we'll start actually building something and stop sinking further behind. This means a three, maybe five year program.

With that kind of schedule you have to wonder where your players are going to be in their careers when the stretch run comes. Of the current team today, who is still going to be playing like they belong on a contending team in three years?

If it were me:


Alfie: the fans love him, and he's given his life and soul for this team. That said, if a contending team offered anything, I'd approach Alfie about the trade. Alfredsson deserves a cup ring, and Ottawa won't be able to deliver him one. If a chance comes up, he deserves the opportunity to take it if he wants. Personally I doubt he'd take the chance. But should the opportunity arise, the decision needs to be his.

Spezza: Like him or loath him, Spezza is an elite centre. He can playmake out of nothing and when he's on, magic can happen. That said, where will he be in three to five years? Right now if a decent offer came, I'd trade him if possible because I know the team surrounding him can't make decent use of his skills, and I wonder if he'll still have it when the stretch run comes. And this better be a trade where in hind-sight we look back and say "that was worth it". No Heatley-style trades. Odds are he's untradable due to cap and no-movement. I'll enjoy his play if he stays, he's definitely an asset. He'll be the leadership of the immediate future if he stays.

Michalek: If I can keep him cheap, I'd keep him. He isn't the elite we perhaps hoped he would mature into, but he's a grinder and can make things happen. His speed seems to be coming back, too. He'd provide a good sense of leadership for the younger players.

Fisher: I would trade him if I could. Fisher is a popular player with the ability to score and make things happen, bu the bottom line is that he hasn't been playing to his salary. I would trade him for a salary dump from another team as long as the incoming contract ended before Fisher's does, just to get his money off the books.

Foligno: I would keep him. I suspect he will be cheap to re-sign next time around because he certainly isn't lighting up the numbers right now. I personally think he's capable of more, and if I can have it cheap, I'll take it.

Kelly: Probably too expensive to keep, trade if I can. I would prefer to keep, since the Kelly-Ruutu-Neil line provides energy, is entertaining to watch, and is liked by the fans. Plus they can get goals here and there too.

Kovalev: I love the guy's play to death, but he hasn't been worth $5 million by any stretch of the imagination. Trade him if I can -- even at firesale rates. Don't re-sign if I can't.

Neil: Keep for now. Personally I doubt contenders will be trading for his kind of "character".

Regin: Like Foligno, is underperforming and will probably be cheap to re-sign. I say keep.

Ruutu: His contract is up again this year. While he's a bit expensive for my tastes, I'd keep him, but I wouldn't consider it the end of the world if someone else wanted to trade for him.

Shannon: Another underperforming youngster. I say keep.

Smith. See Shannon, Regin, Foglino. Keep.

Winchester: I think his window is closing. Trade if we can.


Campoli: If we can keep him cheap, he might have a spot. The problem is that right now we are drowning in 3rd-pairing defencemen. If we can get value for him in trade, I say take it.

Carkner: He is what passes for muscle on this team, and I think for next year anyways we'd need to keep that around until we see if any of the new kids are capable of stepping up.

Gonchar: He's unmovable, but I'd keep him even if he wasn't. No wait, stop laughing. While he may be past his best-before date, and is almost definitely overpaid for what he produces, this guy has been there, done that, at the highest levels. Keeping him around should be a good on-ice influence on these allegedly elite defense prospects like Karlsson and Cowen et al.

Karlsson: I would keep him unless someone offered me the crown jewels. And I'd make them throw in a 1st and a 2nd on top of it. If the right offer came, I'd take it. But the price will be very, very high.

Kuba: I wonder if he is perhaps at the end of his line, he's making too many mistakes and doesn't seem to have much upside. I wouldn't protect him from a trade.

Lee: Seriously, why is Lee even still here? I'd trade him for future considerations, just to get rid of him. Plus it might get his career going as well. Neither the Senators nor Lee are benefiting from the current arrangement.

Phillips: I like Phillips' play. That said, he might have the kind of character that a contender might like. If the right offer came along, trade.

In goal:

Elliott: I'm not one to fit Elliott under the bus by any means. I think he's suffered from poor efforts on the ice in front of him, and to expect excellence from a player in that situation is virtually impossible. Even though I don't think he's a bad goalie, I don't think Elliott will be back next year.

LeClaire: Also suffered from poor efforts in front of him, even when he did play like the elite he's shown flashes of in the past he was let down by a total lack of offense from the guys up front. However since he can't stay healthy for 60 consecutive minutes it is entirely academic. He's untradable. He's injured, so he's unplayable. I think he's done here in Ottawa.

Lehner: Goalie of the future? I dunno, I don't see it. His two starts he was lit up like a pinball machine, even if both times the team provided some offense for once (even if ultimately in a losing cause). I think he'll be the next in a long line of guys who play reasonably well, but not well enough to compensate for a lack of offense up front and poor defensive coverage behind them. He'll be flavor of the month, then get run out of town like Elliott, Auld, Gerber, Emery...

What I'd want in trade: Primarily, picks and prospects. I'll take rookies with potential as well. I'll prefer forwards, since my larder is a bit bare there and I'm reasonably well stocked with defense. I'd make available select prospects in my farm system, but not too many of them, and they won't be cheap.

For long term contracts going out, I'll take short-term salary back as long as it ends this year.

My Plan:

I'm hoping for a three-year rebuild here, but planning for a five-year. Next year is going to be a brutal year for the team, since it will be composed of rookies and veterans who are perhaps past their best. If next year's rookies look like a core we can build around, then I'd go for the three year program; if not, I'd wait another year to see who else we can draft.

As far as my veterans go, I would keep who I could fit from the existing team. The fans like guys like Spezza and Fisher, plus the energy line of Neil-Kelly-Ruutu is entertaining.

In goal I want to grow my own goalie rather than trade for someone who might or might not be done. If Lehner's the guy then great, but I would still be on the prowl for another hot prospect. I'd also be looking for a senior goalie, someone who can be steady in net and can provide mentoring to Lehner (or whomever the next flavor of the month is) before he too gets run out of town, but frankly I'd expect I can pick up someone cheap in free agency for that role.

That's my plan. Not quite fire everyone, but trade who I can, discard who I can, and pack the team with kids with potential. Build the defense around Karlsson. Keep some veterans around to mentor the kids and entertain the fans here and there.

But what do I know?