Thursday, January 15, 2009

Exit Martin Gerber

As was rumoured, Bryan Murray sent Martin Gerber down to Bingo Thursday on a "conditioning stint" which means that Gerbs doesn't have to go on waivers for two weeks.

Barring an injury during that time, Gerber has likely played his last game as a Senator.

And what a wild 3 years it was with the Swiss netminder.

During one lengthy stretch last season, Gerber was the most popular player on the Ottawa Senators.


The fans were in such a self-righteous uproar over Ray Emery that they started getting behind Gerber in a way that only Daniel Alfredsson has enjoyed in the past.

The thinking was if Emery was so bad and unprofessional, then Gerber must be the exact opposite.

Then the baloney started.

For the past two years, all we have heard is how great a guy Gerber is. How professional he is. He might not be able to stop a puck but boy, is he a "great person" (let's forget about the fact that he demanded a trade before last year and wore a black mask with no Sens logo because of that).

And they're right of course. Gerber is a good guy. A real professional.

But so is everyone else on the Senators.

Why did Gerber get accolades for just being a normal NHL player doing the same routine that everyone else did? He showed up to practices and worked hard. So did the majority of players on the Senators. And the majority of players in the NHL.

Why was Gerber so much more "professional" than the others? Because Emery was immature? What does that have to do with Gerber?

His status as the exalted professional actually masked his horrific goaltending for the better part of two seasons until the fans finally abandoned him early this year when not even the most well-crafted Ottawa Citizen propaganda could prop up Gerbs any longer.

I'm not trying to dance on his grave but let's get real.

Working hard in practice and not complaining to the media is not a Martin Gerber invention. That code is practiced by 99 percent of NHL players. He should be judged on his goaltending and that verdict is not a positive one.

The team is better without him on the roster and that's that. I'm not going to get teary eyed because the great professional lost his job.


Judging by the reader comments from my previous post, people are getting way too bent out of shape by Pierre McGuire's minor criticisms of Brian Elliott.

All McGuire said is that Elliott needs some work on his rebound control, something that is completely normal for an NHL rookie. He wasn't saying that Elliott had a fatal flaw. All young goalies have to work at their craft and Elliott will be no exception.

People may not like McGuire's hyper personality but you cannot question his hockey credentials. You'd be hard pressed to find any other member of the hockey media who is as knowledgeable and sought after for his opinions.

When McGuire says something, it's worth taking seriously.

Elliott will be fine. There's no sense in getting all riled up because of a false assumption that Elliott is going to start his career as a perfect goalie. McGuire just told it like it is.


Not surprisingly, Bryan Murray is already musing about World Junior standout Erik Karlsson being on the Senators roster next season.

"He's better than a longshot," Murray said. "He's not big enough to push around NHL players and defend properly, but he's so good with the puck that he can help the team."

At least that quote shows that Murray is serious about finding a puck mover for his blueline.

A good balance for next season would be the typical three and three - 3 puck movers and 3 physical stay at home types.

Ottawa already has 3 of the latter in Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov and Jason Smith who should all be retained going forward.

Brian Lee is taking good steps towards solidifying his presence on this roster for next year but that still leaves two openings for an offensive type.

Filip Kuba is as good as gone, either at the trade deadline or as an unrestricted free agent this summer. I still don't know what to think of Alexandre Picard. He's been marginally better as of late but he doesn't really leave you thinking that he has great potential for the future. I'd love to be wrong.

So in my mind, there's still two big holes to fill on that blueline. Can Karlsson be the guy to fill one of them?

That's why they pay Murray the big bucks. To see into the future.

Too bad he was wearing shades this past summer.


Canucnik said...

McGuire is "slipping", he was inaccurate, you guys should hear some of the things he is saying. I know it might be tough night after night, that's his job. It's been so long, the game has changed considerably since he coached. I liked him when he was a know it all and correct, now he is just very annoying and everyone lets him off the hook. Jalen is right Pierre could not cary Galley's jock as a player or a broadcaster.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the whole Gerber saga. It really is unbelievable how it all played out. I have nothing against the guy personally, but the excuses for nonperformance made by management and the media are unprecedented.

Initially the excuse was that his performance was affected because he was feeling the pressure of competing for the job with Emery. Then the media told us that he works hard in practice so he deserves a chance. Then we were told that he is a really good guy.

Usually the way it plays out is as follows: 1) You're feeling the heat, well you're making $3.7M so you should be able to handle it, 2) You're not performing well in games, so you're expected to work hard in practice, 3) You're a good guy, as you pointed out, so are most guys.

Clearly, the conditioning stint is a showcasing opportunity, for Gerber more than the Sens. This will give Gerbs the chance to post 6 straight shutouts and then get claimed off waivers.

At the present time, he would clear waivers without getting claimed, and thus the NHL career would most likely be finito.

His longevity with the Sens can be attributed to the fact that Murray pushed to get him signed over Muckler's wish of keeping Hasek. Murray had political capital invested in Gerber and wanted Gerber to prove him right.

He leaves as the highest paid goaltender in Sens history. I wish him well.

I agree with you on Pierre McGuire. I think that he is in the top-tier of hockey analysts today. He'll be around for awhile also. He's one of the few hockey guys who are progressive thinkers. As a new generation of management and owners slowly take over the decision-making power in the game, the neanderthal voices of Bobby Clarke, Don Cherry, and the like will be marginalized. Grapes will increasingly be viewed as an entertainer rather than a serious prognosticator.

Lastly, I disagree with you on Smith. I think is $2.6M could be better spent elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

i agree with the last guy - Smith has been a bust at $2.6 million.

We absolutely need to keep Kuba - he's an offensive machine, and the only thing remaining from Mezaros. If it cost us $4 mill to keep him it would be worth it - losing him would be a HUGE mistake.

SO, if you are mad at players bc of poor performance (Gerber) then you must be really really mad at Fisher, Vermette and Kelly as well as Heatley. If you're going to rip on Gerber why don't you rip on these guys? Fisher has been twice the bust of Gerbage this year - he is being paid $6m and scores every other 20 games! Come-on, lets shit on those that deserve to be shit on, like Fisher.

Anonymous said...

The Sens suck. The WHOLE TEAM sucks. The goaltending has NOT been the issue this year, it is the entire team. Can't score, can't defend. Send them all to the AHL, why don't you? This team will NEVER be anything until someone around here admits the REAL problems, and fixes them. The Sens management has got to be the laughing stock of the NHL. The only thing they're good at is suckering the fans into believing THEY aren't the real problem. The lack of hockey knowledge in this City is embarrassing.

G said...

Nice column, as usual pretty bang on. A mature reaction to gerbers departure. My intial reaction was more akin to the munchkins in the Wizard of OZ dancing and singing when they hear the news of the demise of the wicked witch - DING DONG the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the wicked witch is dead. Finally!!!!! a couple of years too late and a few million dollars later....

Canucnik said...

Gentlemen: I am going to pull a "Pierre" on you! From exactly game "three" I have been talking about #21. Jason Smith has had a great career; Captain of a proud Oiler Team; a very servicable gritty D-man, long distinguished career, who simply stayed too long and it was "apparent" in Philly. My problem, initially, was not with his play directly but what he was doing to the other young defencemen (the dish off, the ring around everytime). At the start it was such a dogs breakfast not even the coaches could be faulted but as it played itself out #21 was being shielded and the kids were getting it in the throat (unfairly). Then some of the worst old time coaching that I have ever seen transpired in relation to Schubert. (In the business world this was a firing offence) It's all water under the bridge now but I think this had a lot to do with the over all performance of the whole team to this point (scoring; defence; goaltending and confidence).