Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Business As Usual

There's no point in rehashing the same old story. The Senators lost because they lived up to their billing as the lowest scoring team in the National Hockey League. Not much is going to change until Bryan Murray brings in some real offence.

How long can he wait? Forever?

Sorry for the brevity, but is there anything more to say?


It makes much more sense to think of Antoine Vermette as a role player similar to Sami Pahlsson in Anaheim. When the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, Pahlsson was one of their best players simply by being the best defensive forward on the ice during every series.

When you imagine what Vermette could be, think back to Jere Lehtinen in his prime (or even a Kris Draper but with a little more skill). Vermette is not going to score 30 goals but he can be a hell of a speedy defensive forward, possibly even a Selke nominee down the road.

The problem is that he's being paid like a second-line offensive forward and he's in a tough situation with the fans and Ottawa management because of it. Pahlsson only gets 1.4 million in Anaheim but you could say that they both play a similar role, even though the expectations are different. That's why Vermette is a likely asset to be traded. GM's love defensive specialists but they don't necessarily like to overpay to get them.

Bryan Murray has a small window here where Vermette is still considered by many to have offensive potential. At the end of this year, if Vermette hasn't scored 25 goals (and he won't), his 3 million salary for next year will be unpalatable to both Ottawa and any other trade partners around the league.

If Vermette can somehow reform his image from an underachieving offensive guy to an underrated defensive force, he might still have a bright future in Bytown. But that money is a big stumbling block.


It's become Chris Neil's trademark to flash that toothless grin during every scrap he's in and tonight was no exception as he was smiling all the way through his fight with Chicago's Troy Brouwer after taking a healthy run at Patrick Kane. Then there's Jarkko Ruutu. He's always smiling too but he's got a full gleaming set of choppers that makes him look a little like a shark. That's got to be infuriating - a guy who's so chippy having a perfect grill. ....... There's a new book on the original dynastic Ottawa Senators called "Win, Tie or Wrangle" written by local hockey researcher Paul Kitchen. It's received at least one glowing review and hopefully it winds up under a few Christmas trees this year, including mine......... Chicago coach Joel Quennville is a pretty snappy dresser behind the bench. Purple shirt, metallic green tie. Almost as nice as his players who wear the nicest jersey's in the league...... Speaking of which, imagine if the Hawks designed a 3rd jersey where their side profile "Chief" was turned to stare straight out like the Senators current Spartan logo? It wouldn't happen because even a team with a stormy past like the Blackhawks know that tradition and simplicity far surpass gimmicks and endless alternate logos in building a brand. Someday the Senators will go back to their original side-profile logo and wonder why they ever changed in the first place. It's sad when you realize that teams like the Florida Panthers, the New Jersey Devils and the Carolina Hurricanes have more easily identifiable logos than the Senators. Are the Senators headed down the long and dirty road that the Buffalo Sabres and the Vancouver Canucks have trudged through over the years? Falling head over heels for every new trend that happens to come along? Man, we're already there.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the logo. Bring back the 2D senator! And while they're at it, maybe a trade can bring in some young talent and picks, and get rid of the old, slow, untalented third and fourth liners that make up the bulk of the Sens. Oh, and if the playoffs (after said trades) are still out of the question come february, make the necessary changes to get at least a top 5 pick, and some amazing prospects. Who knows, if they can move out some salary for some picks and prospects, maybe they can win the cup while Alfie's here. But this group is not doing it. No matter how much "tweaking" they do.

Anonymous said...

They're going to have to move one of the big 3 to get a really early pick, and some amazing prospects. I'm personally okay with it, but they should try and get some decent returns for fish, kelly, and whoever else they can trade first. We want picks!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the need for offence, but who would you trade? Does a trade for Baumeester involving Vermette, for example, count as increasing offence in your books? Can the team afford to give-up a strong defencive forward like Vermette? Who do you think is expendable on defence? And would a trade to improve offence necessarily weaken the strong defence that the team currently has? I'm glad not to be Brian Murray.

Oman said...

It's those damn early goals Gerber always lets in. It changes the whole game. Makes eveyone "grip their sticks" harder or something. Just kills confidence and momentum. I don't care if he stops every puck after that. The tone he establishes with that softy on the first few shots ruins everything.

Jalen said...

Oman - I can't really fault Gerber on that particular goal (it was deflected), but I completely agree with you otherwise.

It's really odd how often he let's in an early goal and it's often of the soft and smelly variety. The team plays like they know it's going to happen beforehand and then like they have to score five once it does. If Gerber plays well after, does it matter? and does he play well because some of the pressure's off?

I know he's a great teammate, but his time in the Capital can't end quickly enough. I hope he rebuilds is career elsewhere.

- Jalen

Anonymous said...

I'm with Oman and Jalen. The problem with Gerber has less to do with the number of goals he lets in, but rather the timing.

Grant Fuhr used to let in a lot of goals. But, what made him a "money" goaltender is that he made you a save when you needed it. The players played an aggressive game in front of him, because they knew they could count on Fuhr to make the big save.

I think Gerber shuts down our offence better than the opposing team.

In any case, this way beyond debate. Gerber is what he is. I don't blame him anymore. This is now a management issue. The Sens don't win games when Gerber plays. Murray's had two years to deal with this situation. If he was intent a buying out a goaltender, my view is that he bought out the wrong one.