Just picked up the always top of the line "Score Sports Forecaster" published by the cable network that features personalities like Steve Kouleas and Steve Ludzik, and shockingly, they have a very upbeat and positive look on the Senators this season.
While none of the Score's "experts" pick Ottawa to win the Cup, be a finalist or win the Presidents trophy (and none of their players to win any NHL awards), one of their unnamed writers has this to say about the team:
"Hartsburg may be a perfect fit for the Senators at this point. His background as a defenseman and his history of coaching just that, good defense, will be breath of fresh air in Ottawa, and he showed with the 2008 Canadian WJC squad how much he stresses team-first play. ... This team may have dropped a bit in terms of pure talent, but their leadership and defense are much better. That bodes well for a Sens team that still has the pieces to make a serious playoff run. With a little more help at the trade deadline, don't be surprised if they do."
- The Score Sports Forecaster 2008-2009
That's the most positive spin I've read on the team so far this summer. Either those writers were drunk, I'm drunk, or they know something no other yearbook does.
They also mention Hartsburg being a "breath of fresh air". After all those years of the similarly defensive Jacques Martin, will it really be that big of a change?
Holdovers from the Martin era are:
Jason Spezza (who has some bad memories)
Chris Kelly (for only 4 games)
That's a good chunk of the core of the Senators team. What that probably means more than anything is that they will have an easy time adapting to a more defensive system which many of them were brought up on anyways. A new addition such as Jason Smith will also perform well in such a scenario.
Players who may have trouble will be the younger guys such as Andrej Meszaros and Brian Lee but the old cliche goes that once the best players buy in, ie. Alfie, Spezza and Heatley, the rest will follow rather quickly.
The Hartsburg era may not be as exciting to watch as the run and gun Bryan Murray era but maybe it's the system correction the team needs to succeed.
It's hard to argue with the unbalanced stats of last year:
Goals For: 2nd in NHL
Goals Against: 24th in the NHL
Power Play: 12th in NHL
Penalty Kill: 22nd in NHL
It's obvious those defensive numbers is what killed the team and not any sort of media fabricated dressing room crisis. The coaching staff and the players have to take responsibility for what occured on the ice and work together to change it.