Saturday, June 25, 2011

Murray Steals Filatov From Columbus

Impressive and inspired move by Ottawa GM Bryan Murray today to steal former 6th overall pick Nikita Filatov from the Blue Jackets for a third rounder.

The infusion of skill into the organization at the forward position the past few days is mind-blowing, even if most of it won't be on display for at least a couple of seasons.

But that's where Filatov can ease some pain. If he's going to pay off, it will likely start this coming season where he'll probably get a chance to skate on one of the top two lines in the early going, a role that Murray tried to fill cheaply with his late-season pickup of Marek Svatos from the Nashville Predators, a good idea that didn't exactly pan out. Filatov is an upgrade on Svatos, or at least on potential alone and he comes with a cap hit of just over 2 million, most of that made up of bonuses.

And the kid is just 21. It's no surprise that Filatov didn't excel in the Columbus organization after such high hopes because that's commonplace down there. They give up on young players better than any team in the league over the past ten years and Filatov is just the latest.

Give Filatov a centre (like Jason Spezza) and he's going to score some goals. He's too talented not to. I've already heard the Alexei Kovalev comparisons, but that's just an easy out to try and describe the young Russian. Yes, they're both skilled and they're both Russian. That's where the comparisons should end. Kovalev is a species unto himself. In order to find someone similar, you have to read Dostoevsky or Gogol instead of pointing at any Russian kid who can stickhandle through a Cribbage board.

Just two seasons ago, Filatov was coming off three successive World Junior tournaments where he was consistently one of the best players from any country. He can also speak English better than a lot of people in the Ottawa Valley and seems to have a bit of an outspoken and stubborn personality that will either serve him well or tear him down in the eyes of many.

The short story is Bryan Murray made a very low-risk move picking up the talented Russian because he had already drafted three skilled forwards with huge upside on Friday night. Filatov is a player who can help right away if he takes his second chance in the NHL seriously enough.

Could you imagine the ramifications of this deal if Filatov actually lives up to his status as a top-ten pick?

Even if Filatov can score 50 points in one of the next two seasons, this trade will have paid off ten times over.

I'm still shaking my head at the thought of it.

Sens Draft A New First Line... And Tim Murray Broods

The first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is finally over, clocking in at an impressive 4 hours, and I'm about 4 Amsterdam Lagers deep, which is a modest pace when you consider the amount of trades and wild rumours that would drive a lesser man at least six beers in, but as a service to you, I've tried to keep a clear head, if only to be coherent enough to describe the strange spectacle Ottawa assistant GM Tim Murray made as he stomped and sneered all over the stage like he was the direct descendant of the legendarily dour Canucks GM Mike Gillis, and not his genial uncle Bryan Murray.

But before we get too carried away with that, a few items of business for the Senators. You'll read more in-depth analysis on Ottawa's troika of first round picks elsewhere, but my general impression is that the Senators came out of this first round with a future first line fully intact, even if they weren't able to move up and select Gabriel Landeskog or Jonathan Huberdeau.

In essence, they were able to snag the second best Swedish forward available in Mika Zibanejad, who's stock went so high and wild that some were even speculating he would go fourth to the Devils (who absolutely stole Adam Larsson with that pick). TSN compared Zibanejad to Bobby Holik, another big centre who was a vital component of two Stanley Cup winning teams in Jersey. Zibanejad already has NHL size but is expected to stay one more year in Sweden competing against men in what is considered the second best hockey league in the world. In other words, this guy is a blue-chipper, and should fit in well on an Ottawa team that is going in a distinctly Swedish direction.

Bryan Murray and his staff also did well to get forwards Stefan Noesen (already getting Corey Perry comparisons) at 21st overall and Matt Puempel, who got the rare Brett Hull name-check from Pierre McGuire who also said he is the purest goal-scorer in the draft. Nobody's buying that kind of guff, but it was fun to listen to regardless.

But no, what fascinated me was the strange behaviour of Senators assistant GM Tim Murray, who looked like the pressure of draft week had finally snapped something crucial in his mind.

Not normally a pleasant fellow, Murray strode the stage for the first pick and without any pleasantries that is the norm for these things, went right ahead and picked Zibanejad in as few syllables possible. No congratulating Boston. No thanking the fans in Ottawa or Minnesota. No smiling.

Fair enough. Murray is all business all the time and as Dean Brown said on the Team 1200 the other day, he doesn't feed reporters crap and he doesn't take any either. God bless him. We can all appreciate a man like that, because they're so completely rare as to seem like aliens.

Then he was back at the microphone to pick Noesen but he could barely bring himself to spit out the words before pulling away from the microphone and scowling all the way back over to the line of scouts waiting for the kid to make his way from the stands.It was a bravura performance, borderline disrespectful, and completely dismissive of the demands of television. I've been watching NHL drafts since at least 1992 and I've never seen someone so pissed off and curmudgeonly, and I've watched the all-time greats like Bobby Clarke and Harry Sinden mumble their way through many a pick, mangling names and grinding their teeth.

Somebody must have talked to Tim before the Senators third pick, maybe his media savvy uncle, because when he went to the microphone to pick Puempel, he was like Mr. Rogers all of a sudden, thanking everybody in sight, smiling and generally acting like Alan Thicke at a banquet.

I will say this: Tim Murray is a hell of a hockey department guy. He's just as responsible as his uncle for rebuilding the Senators farm team and watching them win an AHL championship. But you can see why he's going to have some limitations if he wants to be a GM in the NHL. There's just no Hollywood in him.

You have to wonder why the Senators would send him out to represent the team on television. It's a bit like being the Gambino crime family but instead of the "Dapper Don" John Gotti meeting the press, you send out Sammy "The Bull" Gravano and inevitably a cameraman gets tossed to the pavement and stomped on, with bystanders screaming "Stop it...he's already dead!"

But maybe that's just the way with those hardcore scouts. They've had too much shitty coffee from shitty canteens in shitty arenas in shitty towns to be able to smile like an actor when put on camera. They're tougher than any goon who fought their way to the NHL.

Somehow I have the feeling that those weird stories we've heard about a certain NHL team interviewing prospects at the draft combine turning out all the lights in the room and then shining a spotlight in the kids faces to see if they sweat may very well be traced back to Tim Murray if any reporter had the steely resolve to follow the trail of tears. But we all know what happened to people who tried to dig up dirt on Sammy "The Bull". They got a nice pair of concrete shoes for their troubles.

There's probably no truth to the rumours that Tim has a cute little plaque in his office that reads "Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead." No truth to that whatsoever.

Anyways, that was the draft.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coaching Staff Set For Little Sweden

Looks like the Senators read my last post, dropped everything, called the PR staff back from the cottage, and decided to announce the official signings of Dave Cameron and Mark Reeds as the assistants to head coach Paul MacLean in Ottawa. When I lift a finger, people start running, as my seven loyal readers well know.

We already know the score with Dave Cameron, but Mark Reeds is a little less known in Ottawa unless you're a rabid follower of the Ontario Hockey League where Reeds coached the Owen Sound Attack for the last handful of years. He, like MacLean and Cameron, played in the NHL as well, spending most of his time with the St. Louis Blues and a short spell with the Hartford Whalers (and their farm team in Binghamton).

The Senators now have three main coaches with NHL playing experience, and you can also throw in some of the other assistants like Luke Richardson and Rick Wamsley in that category. The Senators have never had a coaching staff that has the potential to understand what these players are going through, which was one of the main complaints about Cory Clouston and his staff last season, where even nice guys like Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips were said to be shaking their heads at the way the team was being run.

But that's ancient history now. Bryan Murray has done a stellar job getting some of the top prospective NHL coaches together in one staff, and it's going to pay off sooner rather than later I suspect. He's also got the most picks of any NHL team in tomorrow's draft (as they keep saying without realizing the shocking meaning of that number - 6 of the first 66 picks - 666 - the ultimate "goocher" number of all numbers).

Now if Murray could somehow convince the Panthers to swap picks and grab Gabriel Landeskog at number 3 (Gabriel - another biblical reference - something strange is brewing), and if the local press can stop trying to trade Jason Spezza every week, then the Senators are going into this season with nothing but positive vibes, a whip-smart coaching staff, and a team full of hungry kids fresh off an AHL championship.

Maybe they even convince a top-six forward like Ville Leino or Scottie Upshall to sign in July.

Not much to complain about right now, but I'm sure we'll find something.

As for the draft, I'll be watching just like the rest of you, clueless as to what will actually transpire, but everyone has their pet pick for the second round or later, and mine is Swedish hot-shot Joachim Nermark, who can score goals like a maniac. I'll take a shot in the dark and predict the Senators will grab Nermark on Saturday to complement their growing Swedish family. And if you've caught sight of that monstrously huge Ikea being built out by Pinecrest, guys like David Rundblad, Robin Lehner, Andre Petersson, Jakob Silfverberg, Marcus Sorenson and (hopefully) Landeskog should feel right at home here in Little Sweden by the River.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cameron Slips Into Black Hole

One question: What the hell is going on with the Dave Cameron story? He felt it was okay to scoop his (alleged) new employer by announcing his own hiring at a banquet of all places, then nothing but silence from both sides for days. Are the Senators pissed off about it and having second thoughts? Are they grinding him down in contract negotiations? Or have they figured that because Cameron was nice enough to announce it himself, no official notice from the team is needed?

Like I said, there's a stench coming off this thing thicker than the fog at a King Diamond concert.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cameron Gets The Call... and more Vancouver Fallout

News that Dave Cameron has been hired (allegedly) to be Paul MacLean's assistant in Ottawa is sure to raise a few eyebrows, none more so than mine, which almost flew off my head when I first heard. 
There's a bit of a wink and a nudge (and possibly a blind horse) attached to this hiring if you've at all been following the Senators coaching search this summer. It is indeed strange that owner Eugene Melnyk's first choice to coach the Sens ends up with the consolation prize and, essentially, the title of "Coach In Waiting".
And before we get any further, there's no reason to cast aspersions on Cameron's qualifications. Everyone agrees he's a good coach and that he's likely ready to be in the NHL.
This is purely about optics here, and Melnyk somewhat poisoned the atmosphere when he seemingly hijacked the hiring process by publicly casting his vote for Cameron. Ultimately, GM Bryan Murray proved he makes the hockey decisions by hiring MacLean from the Red Wings organization, but this latest news is sure to crank up the gossip machine to full power.
Obviously MacLean approved this hiring, but did he feel pressure to accept Cameron from up above or was this a hire based only on merit? We may never know the answer, and it may not be important anyways.
It's important to remember that we are debating the finer points of assistant coaches here. The fact that this is big news probably means we are all insane or, as others would put it, "passionate". The truth likely lies somewhere in between.
The end result is that Ottawa is adding an intelligent and highly rated coach to their staff, even if the process was riddled with politics. This is Ottawa, after all.

A lot of ink has been spilled on the idea of the Canucks being "Canada's Team" during their failed Stanley Cup run, and ultimately the rejection of that team because they were just way too hard to like for anyone with a conscience, Canadian or not.  Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun described the Canucks as "soccer-style divers, finger biters and whiners", and you'd be hard pressed to find a better description out there, although I'd add "inexcusably cocky" to that list (see Roberto Luongo's comments on Tim Thomas if you have any doubts). It also didn't help that a solid core of their fans have proven to be raging psychotics, trashing their city, beating up innocent people, stabbing Bruins fans and leaving them to bleed in the streets like animals, throwing glass bottles at reporters, attacking homeless people, and then having the gall to get so mad and disgusted with themselves in the aftermath, with the whole world laughing at them, that the supposed "good samaritans" opposed to the riots have now called in death threats to that rich polo kid and his family after he confessed to trying to light a cop car on fire. So, it's a sin to riot in the streets but its okay to harass and threaten someone's life for doing so? It's all very civilized isn't it? Even Oakland Raiders fans are probably thinking "Woah, that's completely out of control".
Then you throw in the merciless and completely unfounded booing of Gary Bettman as he tried to present the Stanely Cup, believing that there was an NHL conspiracy to make sure they lost to the American-based Bruins, and a general manager who has never been seen to smile on camera, and you have the makings of the most hated team in the NHL since the New Jersey Devils of the mid to late 90's or perhaps as far back as the Philadelphia Flyers in the 70's. But the Devils were hated for being boring, the Flyers were hated for being too violent. The Canucks are hated for a whole cornucopia of sins, many of which have been deemed "un-Canadian" by the Canadian press, just like the cops in Vancouver trying to tell us that the rioters weren't Canucks or hockey fans, but "anarchists and criminals". Of course, that's a lie too outrageous to leave unchallenged.
Of course, there were "anarchists and criminals" rioting, but they were probably outnumbered 10-1 by everyday normal Canadian kids who love hockey as much as the next guy, but just decided that now was going to be their only opportunity to go completely insane and escape the consequences. To pretend that the thousands of rioters weren't hockey fans is just ignoring the problem, and setting yourself up for a repeat the next time the Canucks make a run, maybe as early as next season. Stop trying to blame everyone else, accept responsibility and make the necessary changes to make sure it doesn't happen again. That's what rational people do when they screw up big-time.
If I trashed my own house because my favourite team lost a hockey game and I tried to tell my wife that a bunch of criminals and anarchists ran in through the back door and burned everything, I'd get one of my wife's patented death stares and would probably wake up in the emergency room hours later in a body cast with divorce papers on the bedside table waiting to be signed when I recovered the use of my hands.
I don't really get the hand-wringing about another Canadian team failing to win the Stanley Cup either. If this was the Olympics or World Juniors, I could understand, but I don't see nationalism having any place in the NHL. This is a club-based league and there's nothing wrong with Canadian fans loving the Bruins or Rangers or Red Wings or whoever south of the border. A lot of fans inherit their love of teams from parents or for any other weird reason you can think of. I fell in love with the Red Wings because the first pack of hockey cards I ever opened had a Steve Yzerman rookie and my dad told me he was from Ottawa. Then I saw a picture of Ron Duguay and that hair of his and I knew the Wings were my kind of team. I didn't care that they were terrible during those years in the early to mid-80's. My old man loved the Hawks and there was no sense that I had to cheer for the Habs or the Leafs just because they were Canadian. Being forced to cheer for some random Canadian club still left in the playoffs is a cruel sort of pressure, especially when that team is full of "divers, whiners and finger biters".  And what if that team was the Toronto Maple Leafs? Do people really expect fans in Ottawa to cheer on the Leafs in the Stanley Cup Final? (Luckily, this scenario will never happen).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rough Hangover In Vancouver

Do you get the feeling a riot would have broken out even if the Vancouver Canucks had won the Stanley Cup? You bet it would have.

Losing Game 7 probably fast-tracked the whole thing, but there would have been cars burning even if the bi-polar West Coast city had a reason to celebrate. Maybe it would have been worse, who knows?

According to the Sun, CNN is now calling Vancouver "Loser City", which is the kind of vicious headline we're used to seeing from Fox News, not CNN. Nasty business.

You just knew it was going to be a tough night for the Canucks when CBC reporter Scott Oake interviewed Henrik Sedin during the warm-ups and told the nervous looking Swede that the "only acceptable outcome to millions of Canadians" would be to win Game 7. What kind of a thing is that to say to someone who is about to play the biggest game of his life?

Now, I'm not saying I'm one of them, but you just know a lot of people are enjoying Vancouver's come-uppance after Roberto Luongo's public dissing of Tim Thomas, Henrik's lame Messier-style prediction, and the general cockiness of that team exhibited by players like Maxim Lapierre.

Then the city tears itself apart for the world to see.

I'm thinking the right team won the Stanley Cup last night.

Got A Match?

I don't remember a Stanley Cup final series as brain damaging as this one since 1994 when me and my brother Ben sat through that storied seven-game tilt between the Rangers and the Canucks, which to us was Mark Messier vs. Pavel Bure. The Moose was my guy, my brother was a Bure freak. I won, he lost, and I beat him mercilessly with a Sherwood as we watched CBC clips of police cars burning on Robson street all night long.

We've now all lived through the latest Canucks el foldo, although as I type, Peter Mansbridge is officially declaring a riot in Vancouver, which means "the game" isn't truly over, but the images I'm seeing look no scarier than last-call on Elgin Street during Shannon Tweed week in Ottawa a few years ago. I'm sure the folks in Montreal are watching right now and laughing at the rank amateurs sans balaclavas. They would have at least gutted Sainte Catherine street by now, except Club Super Sexe, and there wouldn't be any tolerance for a couple of fools calling themselves the "Green Men" doing handstands by the penalty box.We're talking total annihilation here.

But let's just say the Boston Bruins deserved to win this series, this Stanley Cup. Too much character, too much experience, too much grit, too much Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand (a perfect mix of Kris Draper and Claude Lemieux, two players who never crossed paths, right?).

Congratulations to the whole organization, and yes, that includes Jeremy Jacobs, the 746th richest man in the world, the Chairman of the Board of Governors, and the guy who really calls the shots in the NHL, not Gary Bettman, who, incidentally, was classlessly booed by pissed off Canucks fans when he went to present the Conn Smythe Trophy to Tim Thomas.

But that's a whole other rant, and whenever I say something nice about the Commish, all hell seems to break loose, and there's already enough hell breaking loose on Granville Street tonight. Let's bow out of that one for tonight.

Congratulations to ex-Senators Chris Kelly, Zdeno Chara and Shane Hnidy.

Congratulations to GM Peter Chiarelli who payed his dues in the Senators organization and quietly built a championship team while the press fawned over the Canucks all season long.

Congratulations to Ottawa boy Claude Julien who has been fired more often than Billy Martin but has never wavered from his "to hell with entertainment" system.

In the end, it doesn't matter who your favourite team is. Seeing the Stanley Cup being handed to the captain of any team is still the greatest moment in sports.

And it's tough to find a more deserving captain than the Big Z.

If Vancouver won, what would there be to write about anyways?

Anyways, they'll be back next year. And we can all look forward to another riot win or lose.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MacLean Takes Charge

As Paul MacLean strode to the microphone for the first time as head coach of the Ottawa Senators today at approximately 11:00 a.m., and began speaking in his husky but authoritative voice, you could almost feel the entire organization settle down for a moment, like the way a teacher quiets a classroom when he walks in and puts his briefcase on the desk and writes his name on the chalkboard in big, bold letters.

Mr. MacLean has arrived, and even the class clown, Earl McRae of the Ottawa Sun, couldn't get him off-message with a silly question about his moustache.

The words "composure" and "focused" come to mind. In fact, there were a lot of buzzwords and phrases that we kept hearing from MacLean. Words like "attack", "skate", "communication", "respect" and "200 feet".

Perhaps the most indicative of all, in the context of having two-way communication with his players, MacLean casually slipped in the words, "In the end, I'm going to be right", and let a slight smirk play across his face.

In essence, this wasn't a coach trying to play the tough guy for the assembled media, trying to let everyone know he was going to be tougher than the last coach, or make players "more accountable", probably the most over used and meaningless phrase in the past five years. That approach is old news. Out with the negative posturing, in with the positive program. MacLean looked like a natural up there, and was completely convincing in saying that it wasn't him versus the players, but instead "us against the rest of the NHL".

And isn't that the whole point here?

Already, MacLean is building bridges, and when confronted with the inevitable question about how he will make Jason Spezza better, he flipped it around quite easily and said he would sit down with Spezza, but he would also sit down with Daniel Alfredsson, Nick Foligno and Chris Phillips among others. In the past, the focus has been on the guys with the biggest contracts, with everyone wondering why, in times of failure, they are not leading the team out of the wilderness all by themselves.

That's not the Detroit Red Wings method, and judging by MacLean's system that he briefly explained, it won't be the Ottawa Senators method going forward either.

When asked what he would take from his time with Mike Babcock in Detroit, MacLean bristled for a moment, and then pointed out that he wasn't going to steal a thing from Babcock. That's because MacLean was a vital part of the Babcock system from the ground up. The philosophy is as much his as it is Babcock's.

Stars in Detroit like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg play all "200 feet of the ice" and every player on that team has an integral role in the success they've had for over 20 years now. You never hear about locker room strife in Detroit. You never hear about veterans at odds with the coaching staff. You never hear the coach being at odds with the general manager. In Ottawa, that's all we've heard about since the now distant Stanley Cup run in 2007.

As GM Bryan Murray said in his opening remarks today, it was "time for a change" and by bringing in Paul MacLean, Murray imported some much needed experience and a calming presence to an organization that has been at war with itself ever since the failure of 2007.

Another good sign, although it means we have to wait, is that there was no rush to sign any assistant coaches to introduce with MacLean at the press conference. When asked, MacLean said there were people they were talking to, but no timetable was laid out when there would be any conclusion to the process.

This seems to indicate that MacLean is going to get the guys he wants and if it takes some time to do that, who really cares? It looks like MacLean is not going to be saddled with assistants that perhaps the owner would like to see standing beside him on the bench, or guys given the opportunity out of consolation for not getting the big job.

Maybe it will be Dave Cameron or Kurt Kleinendorst after all, but if we can read between the lines here, it looks like it will be MacLeans choice and no one else's. That's how it should be, and MacLean made a point to say that he knows how important it is to have an assistant you trust and can work with because he was in that role for so long under Babcock.

You'd be nuts to think you can foresee how the following season is going to go just from a few casual observations from a press conference in mid-June, but the whole thing just feels right for a change. It didn't feel right when the mild-mannered John Paddock was pressed into service. It didn't feel right when the perpetually scowling Craig Hartsburg was brought in to clean up the locker room mess, and it can only be described as surreal when the inexperienced Cory Clouston was shuffled in mid-season to try and save everybody's jobs. He did well for a while and worked harder than anyone, but the weight proved to be too much.

Paul MacLean has presence. He's got experience. He's got a moustache. And he can actually speak to the media without looking like he wants to pull out a cattle prod and start swinging like a paranoiac when asked who's going to start in goal.

The sun is out today. Birds are singing. The buses are running on time. And the Ottawa Senators finally have an NHL coach.

Bring on the draft.

Monday, June 13, 2011

MacLean Looks Like The Guy

"I like the moustache. I think people tend to listen to someone with a moustache more so than someone without. So he has that going for him. When a man with a moustache tells you to do something, you do it."
- random commenter on talking about the imminent hiring of Paul MacLean as head coach.

Lo and behold, it looks like that day is finally here. Bob McKenzie and TSN are all but assuring us that the Senators will announce Red Wings assistant coach (and former Winnipeg Jet player) Paul MacLean as the new chief here in Ottawa sometime tomorrow. Sounds like a done deal, and if you've been following the clues, a fairly easy prediction to make.

This guy comes with the "Detroit Red Wings guarantee", that aura of "winning" which GM Bryan Murray had with him when he came here as well (with a few pit-stops in between). Now, this is not to disparage MacLean or his solid credentials (he would have been my first choice as well), but rumours are NHL organizations are even trying to poach the janitors from Joe Louis Arena. That's how respected the Detroit franchise is nowadays.

And yes, MacLean has the moustache, which as the commenter I quoted above let us know - when a man with a moustache says jump, you jump. Or skate. Or whatever.

But besides the moustache, MacLean comes with an impressive pedigree and many around the NHL have been saying he's been due for a top job for years now. For starters, he's won the Stanley Cup. You could stop right there and he'd already be qualified to coach this struggling Senators team.  And additionally, he's been to the finals twice, once in 2003 with the Ducks under Mike Babcock, and once again in 2009 under Babcock as the Wings failed to defend their title against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

Let's just say this: if MacLean is half the coach Mike Babcock is, it's still a step up from Cory Clouston, who managed to alienate as many players on this team as those that thrived under him. Unfortunately, the guys who went to work for Clouston were mostly third and fourth line players. You can run federal prisons like that quite successfully, but you can't run NHL teams like that anymore. In fact, you never could.

And after seeing the amount of success that Bingo coach Kurt Kleinendorst had with many of the same players (although he had a much deeper team than Clouston did in the AHL), it validates Clouston's removal even more so.

It's even been speculated that Kleinendorst could end up as an assistant under Paul MacLean, although the Senators should let MacLean bring in his guys if he wants to. Every successive coach under GM Bryan Murray had to use Greg Carvel and every one of those coaches got the can tied to them. Not saying it's Carvel's fault, who was known to run some fine special-teams sessions, but you have to let a new coach run with the guys he wants, instead of having leftovers foisted onto his staff, or guys you want to give consolation prizes to. Which brings us right to OHL coach Dave Cameron.

Cameron's name has been thrown out there as well, probably because owner Eugene Melnyk made another of his famous blunders on live television/radio when he said current employee Cameron would be his "pick" before Murray even had a chance to interview everybody. Brutal. But that's the style of Melnyk and most of us hold our nose and get on with our day because someone's got to pay the bills and sit next to Gary Bettman whenever he visits town (about once every ten years). Melnyk even wears an actual suit on occasion, which at this point is considered a plus.

But we are off on a wild tangent here, and there are more important things to discuss. Such as this bit of trivia: Who was the last head coach to have a moustache behind the Senators bench? If you guessed Jacques Martin, you'd be correct. He had a full Mel Bridgman going on for a while when he got hired in 1996, but the moustache was gone by the time the 96-97 season rolled around, coincidentally the first year the team made the playoffs.

At this point, it's dangerous to discuss any more. What if Bob McKenzie at TSN is wrong and MacLean is on his way to Winnipeg right now to throw on a Jets blazer at a press conference? We would all look strange jumping the gun and wasting so many words on a phantom coach. Until I see MacLean shaking hands with Murray and one of the press corps asking the first "How will you motivate Jason Spezza" question, I won't believe it just yet.

More to come when more comes....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gotta Be Landeskog

Quick pick: I'm guessing Nick Foligno is the guy the Senators will be dangling to the Florida Panthers (along with their 6th overall pick) to move up and grab Gabriel Landeskog 3rd overall at the draft (as I mentioned in a previous post). You could probably throw in a prospect like Patrick Wiercioch as well.

To me, Landeskog is worth making a big move for. The guy is a future captain, and he wants to play here. Not getting him will be a disappointment, although there are some pretty good consolation prizes in Jonathan Huberdeau and Ryan Strome.

While I'm making half-assed predictions, I'll take the easy money and go with Paul Maclean as the next coach of the Senators. The connections run too deep and anytime you can add a quality individual from the Red Wings, the best run organization in the league for years, you take the opportunity.

Now, back to my cave....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"What Did You Say?"

Just one more reason Mark Messier is my favourite hockey player of all time ...

From Elliotte Friedman via Glenn Healey:

Had the note last week about teams not hitting Milan Lucic so he doesn't get angry. Glenn Healy was saying teams used to do that with Mark Messier. They totally avoided him, hoping it was one of the nights he didn't feel like killing anyone. "One night, he was off to a slow start, but the other coach taunted him from the bench," Healy said. "(Messier) stopped in the middle of play, looked at him and said, 'What did you say?' Meanwhile, we're playing four-on-five while he's staring down the guy. I think we won 8-2."