I just received my copy of The Hockey News' 2008-09 Yearbook. Naturally, the cover (of our Ontario edition, anyway) is blue and white, with a giant Leafs photo and a huge feature on whether or not Vesa Toskala has what it takes to carry the Leafs on his back. Really small in the corner, though, is a photo of Dany Heatley advertising a feature on the Sens' spontaneous combustion last year, and whether or not the internal leadership has what it takes to restore the team to its rightful place atop the Eastern Conference.
As a matter of fact, I'm pretty pleased with the Senators content in this year's yearbook, and the story is a good read for fans--probably even worth the cover price. The Sens' first appearance is in the annual Top 50 ranking, which features Dany Heatley (10), Daniel Alfredsson (12), and Jason Spezza (34). Other than Detroit (who have three in the top 6) Anaheim (who have four in the top 30), and Pittsburgh, Ottawa is the only team with three players in the top 34. The most interesting commentary is about Spezza, reminding him that while he's proven as a regular-season performer, he's got to make sure the scoring keeps up in the playoffs.
Then there's what we've all been waiting for, the Sens' feature. It touches on a lot of factors that people--including myself--assumed to allow for the Sens' fall from grace, including overplaying the Sens big three and distractions or a lack of leadership in the locker room. The story, by Ken Campbell, seeks to answer what the hell happened, and whether or not Bryan Murray and Craig Hartsburg will be able to fix the problems for this upcoming season. It raises, but fails to answer, whether or not Heatley and Spezza can be leaders on the team, and whether Martin Gerber can answer the critics and play well in nets. It's still a solid read (and no, I'm not getting any kickbacks from THN. I'll even say you should borrow it from a friend, if you don't believe me.).
And I won't ruin the speculations that the THN panel made, except to say this: Ottawa is predicted to make a playoff spot for the eleventh straight season.