Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's been awhile

It probably goes without saying that there really hasn't been all that much news on the Senators front, what with the chances of there even being a season this year looking pretty slim right now (and what a great way to mark the end of the 20th anniversary of the franchise and potential last year for our beloved captain).

However, I do actually have some Ottawa hockey news to relate because last night I went to an Ottawa 67's game.

For those who don't know, the 67's (so named because the team was formed in the Canadian centennial year, 1967) are a team in the Ontario Hockey League.  When I was young, I went to many of their games at the Ottawa Civic Centre.  However, once the Senators were on the scene this didn't happen as often, mostly due to the fact that I live in the west end of Ottawa and so the Palladium/Corel Centre/Scotiabank Place was much easier to get to.

This year, however, the 67's are playing at the Scotiabank Place while the Civic Centre is renovated (this is the first of two seasons in which this will happen).  What this means is that suddenly they have a huge venue in which to celebrate being the best hockey game in town.

The game last night was great fun.  I was there mostly because my mother's choir, the Goulbourn Jubilee Singers, were performing the national anthem but afterwards we got to watch some great hockey.  While the 67's ultimately lost 4-3 in a shootout, they put forth a great effort and it was especially nice to get to see the captain, and Sens' draft pick, Cody Ceci in action.  Plus it was just a fun, especially for the many children in attendance (of particular note were the children who got to dance around with the cheerleaders and even borrow a few pompoms).

It was a good crowd but there was still lots of seats available and it would be great to see the attendance numbers increase.  So if you're in the Ottawa area and hurting for NHL hockey, I definitely recommend checking some OHL games out and getting a glimpse into the future of professional hockey.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Did the Senators Do Enough this Summer ?

     As August winds down we would usually start turning our attention to the upcoming hockey season which at this times has 30 teams tied for first or last and every team (except the Leafs) have a shot at the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately this off-season has been more about how to share the 3.3 billion in revenue generated by the great game of hockey. Instead of talking about names like Crosby, Sedin, Stamkos, Ovechkin or Alfie - we are stuck with the names Bettman , Daly and Fehr. So as my initial posting I will look at some changes made by the Senators this off-season to see where we may sit when and if hockey gets going (my personal opinion is we will miss about 6 weeks of hockey before cooler heads prevail).
     Two of the biggest moves of this off-season were not changes per say, but they still showed the fans where we may be going. First one is the signing of Erik Karlsson to a 7 year 45.5 million dollar contract and this just days before he would win the franchise's first ever Norris Trophy. This sends the message that ownership is serious about building for the future (and present) and that Karlsson will be one of the keys elements going forward. The second move was not done by the Senators directly but affects them in a huge way - Alfie deciding to come back for another season. This assures us of great leadership by the longest serving captain in team history. The youngsters, and we have many, will benefit from seeing a perfect role model on the effort and dedication needed at the NHL level.  The likes of Silfverberg, Zibanejad, Karlsson, Bishop, Stone will see his work ethic up close and hopefully guide them towards a long successful NHL careers with the Senators. In the words of a Ottawa radio personality "PRAISE ALFIE !" will skate in his famous # 11 for one more year (another reason we don't want a lockout - to see him as much as possible in perhaps his swan song as a Senators player).
     Who did we lose this off-season, Kuba, Carkner, Gilroy on defense, Foligno, Klinkhammer, Kenopka up front and of course back up Alex Auld. The easiest one to deal with here is Auld, with the arrival of Bishop and with Robin Lehner in Bingo, the need for having Auld was not there. Up front, Klinkhammer was a fan favorite probably because he had one of the coolest names in hockey, but with the depth the organization now has he will be replaced. Konopka's face off skills will be missed as will his ability to antagonize opponents, but he played in only about half of the regular season games and he had a tendency to take penalties at the worst time for the Senators. His value in the playoffs was better, but his body couldn't sustain such a beating over 82 games. Foligno has been a project in waiting for the Sens and he has been given many opportunities by the club to grab that top six role but he had not delivered with consistency the results expected. When an opportunity to move him, while he still had some upside, came along Bryan Murray traded him to Columbus (more on that later). This move was done also in an effort to clear up some room up front for the likes of Silfverberg, Zibanejad, Stone and company. On the back end the Sens said goodbye to Matt Gilroy who never seemed at ease in Ottawa and with the likes of Borowiecki, Wiercioch and Ceci coming up the pipes, they decided to let Gilroy go. Kuba was a casualty of the cap-era, had his price tag been closer to 2 million I believe he would still be a Senator, but with his price tag double that and the fact he is one ice rut away from a broken bone Kuba was set free. The final piece of this puzzle was the most curious to me, when hometown boy Matt Carkner was not re-signed by the club. Carkner did not hide the fact that he wanted to come back and I am sure would have given the Sens a hometown discount, Bryan Murray and management decided against re-signing one of the toughest (if not the toughest) player in the NHL. Once he hit the free agent market his price tag went up significantly and he has found a new home, along side John Tavares, Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo , with the Islanders. You will be missed Matt Carkner, it will be interesting who will police the other teams big guys with Chris Neil, any suggestions Sens fans ? I will continue my blog in the coming days to discuss some additions made this off-season.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hurrah for Alfie!

With so much Olympic news flying around these days (go Canada go!), I have to admit hockey isn't quite getting as much of my attention as usual.  But I would feel very remiss if I didn't take a moment to say how happy I am about Alfredsson's return.  I may have mentioned it before but it really is the biggest Sens news of the summer (yes, even bigger than Karlsson).

Alfie really has been such a great leader and he's been the face of the Senators for so long that I can't even imagine him leaving (I actually really don't have many memories of the team without him, though I do know there were a few early years before he was drafted).  So here's hoping the next year will be even better than the last one!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hockey News in Summer? What's Going on Here?

Wow, so much Sens news!  Did the season start early or something?  Crazy.  I guess I’d better jump right in and get down to business.

I was busy when the awards were being announced but my mother came down to let me know Karlsson had won the Norris Trophy (did I mention he’s my favourite player?).  Neither of us were actually expecting him to win it, to be quite honest, but I am very excited that he did.  It really has been one crazy year for him and about to get even crazier since he’s off to get married now (at least he probably won’t be traded on his wedding day, unlike Jordan Staal).

Even more exciting though really was Alfredsson’s win for the King Clancy.  As I mentioned before, I will be sad if Alfie retires without a Cup under his belt (though let’s face it, the chances of him sticking around AND the Senators winning aren’t particularly great) but the more honours he gets, the better I would feel.  Plus he really just means so much to Ottawa and it’s great to see that acknowledged.

Finally, we’ve got the Draft to talk about.  Despite missing the awards I did actually watch some of this on TSN.  Trust me, it was riveting.

Okay, maybe not but there were some interesting parts to it as you try and figure out a team’s strategy (or maybe just try and figure out if the Flames were the smartest team or the dumbest).  For the Sens, the biggest news is, of course, the first round pick of Cody Ceci.  I am a bit of a lapsed 67s Fan but it is very exciting to see someone who grew up in Ottawa play here for the OHL and the NHL. 

The team picked up 6 other players and I’m excited for all of them to come on board, in particular our new goalie since I’ve always been partial to them when I’m not paying attention to Karlsson (I used to play nets myself).  Hopefully the team is on the path to doing a bit better in the coming years than in the last ones, since it wasn’t so long ago when we were at the top of the West. 

Though as long as we’re better than the Leafs I won’t be too upset.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lucky 7 Years for Karlsson & the Sens

It's been pretty quiet for the Senators since their first round loss in the play-offs but things are looking up for the future.  Erik Karlsson signed a seven-year, $45.5 million contract extension today.

Seeing as he is my favourite player on the team, I am really happy about the news though also a bit worried at who the team may end up losing if the money runs out.  But if anyone is worth the money, it's Karlsson and at least now Daniel Alfredsson's kids won't lose their favourite babysitter.

There is still no news on the Alfredsson front.  I know that a lot of people will be disappointed if he decides to retire now, though after the many ups and downs of last season no one could blame him, especially given that he'll be turning 40 at the end of this year.  Still, it always makes me sad to see a good player retire without winning a Stanley Cup, even though I know it happens to a lot of them.  Of course he does have an Olympic gold medal, which is pretty damn impressive too.

All and all, it is shaping up to be an interesting summer and an even more interesting fall.