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!