Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Around the boards: Game-used tutu, and Redden's legacy

See? Sens fans have a sense of humour. This, a hilarious fake-hockey-card from Puck Daddy's ongoing fake-hockey-card contest, is funny. Funny because Daniel Alfredsson isn't afraid to dress up as a ballerina for Hallowe'en. And funny because Alfie is among the least 'pansified' elite players in the league (to borrow a term from Mike Milbury). Pre-tire number 11 already.


There were a couple lineup changes for tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche. First off, Brendan Bell will be dropped from the lineup to give Alex Picard a slot on defence. Not sure how one sort-of-bad-game means that Bell's four or five preceding good games weren't good enough, but it should be good to get some fresh legs in the lineup tonight. It wouldn't be right to keep Bell out for too long, he's earned a spot on the powerplay.

Secondly, Alex Auld is going to make the start. He had a shutout last night against Nashville, and a couple periods of shutout hockey a couple nights before in Minnesota--he's earned a start. It's a bit strange to have him playing back-to-back in difficult circumstances (time zone change, air quality/elevation in Colorado), but we'll see how it goes. If I had to bet, though, I'd wager that Brian Elliott will still get most starts for the remainder of the season.


It would be unfortunate if the legacy of Wade Redden becomes that of an overpaid and underperforming New York Ranger who plays out his contract in the AHL, rather than remembering the success that the former Senators defenceman had earlier in his career. But that seems to be just what Larry Brooks of the New York Post, who called the Redden signing "the worst in the history of the NHL, if not in the history of hard-cap pro sports," seems to think. From Brooks' column:
"It's bad enough that the only way out for Sather is if he can muster the courage to 'fess up to Jim Dolan and explain that, sorry, but the Garden is going to have to pay Redden $31M to play minor-league hockey in Hartford the next five years in order to remove him from the cap - think Sather will still have a job for life following that hypothetical conversation? - but it's worse that this albatross has become Tom Renney's Folly, as well.

"There may not have been more of a downer this season than seeing the head coach send Redden out to the point to start the power play in Florida Friday night with the score tied 1-1 and 4:05 to go in regulation. Redden had no business being on the ice in that situation. He lacks decisiveness and vision. His shot is weak. It bangs off teammates' bodies 35 feet away from the net more often than it gets through."
It was certainly a terrible signing, and it was based on such ridiculous optimism that Redden could return to his old form that it's laughable. Calling it the worst signing in the history of the NHL may be hyperbole (Remember Alexei Yashin's 10-year, $90M contract with the New York Islanders?), but it certainly makes the Senators look good for bowing out of the bidding war (despite the need for a puck-mover of some sort) instead of making a crippling long-term decision.

The worst part is that no one can blame Redden for accepting the 6-year, $39M contract--but he's going to have to live with the fact that he's not living up to the unfounded expectations unless by some miracle his play turns around.


A five-game winning streak, and the Sens have made up two points and one spot in the push for the playoff spot. Then again, I guess no one said it would be easy.

But maybe with Montréal resorting to old friends (Mathieu Schneider) and benching or demoting current players (Alex Kovalev and Sergei Kositsyn, respectively), maybe their free-fall is far from over. Not that I'm trying to rub it in, or anything. We understand your frustration, Habs fans; we're (hopefully) coming off of a calendar year of it. Plus Toronto will be selling soon, Pittsburgh's a basket case, and Buffalo's without Thomas Vanek for a month, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm not going to get my hopes up for a playoff spot, but hopefully the Sens make it one hell of a ride. Even if they finish ninth or something, with the reported depth of this year's draft class, the Sens could get a pretty darn good prospect with their own pick, and maybe a half-decent one if Bryan Murray holds onto the San Jose Sharks' first-rounder that was acquired in the Andrej Meszaros deal.
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