Saturday, June 27, 2009

Welcome, Zdeno Jr.

Will there be any forwards on the Ottawa Senators come 2011-12? Not if Bryan Murray's ingenious drafting comes to fruition.

Naw, I'm just yanking BM's chain. The Sens continued their recent trend of using their first-round pick on blue-chip defenders by taking 6' 5" Jared Cowen with the ninth overall pick in this year's draft.

It seems that Murray's trying to cover all the bases on the blueline now, with an ample amount of puck-moving defencemen (cue eye roll) he's gone after the big-body presence that has been missing since... well... that other tall guy left for greener pastures. (I hate Redden so much!)

But just because Cowen's a big player doesn't necessarily mean he'll be hitting people all over the ice. Sens fans are all too familiar with big bodies who couldn't hurt a fly. For instance, Filip Kuba (6' 4" and 226 pounds) is roughly the same size as Cowen, but wouldn't hit an opposing player to save his overrated life.

The Senators', however, do need somebody to log major minutes in upcoming seasons. With Chris Phillips (31) getting older and Anton Volchenkov (27) becoming a free agent after the 2009-10 season, somebody's going to have to be on the ice while Brian Lee, Chris Campoli, Erik Karlsson, et al. save up all their talent juice on the bench.

Late last night, the Ottawa Citizen reported (overheard, I suppose) that Murray and Leafs' GM Brian Burke had a quick conversation on the draft floor (anybody else see this article?). Murray stated that he intended to draft Nazem Kadri with the ninth pick, and asked Burke if that was who the Leafs would select with pick #7. Burke said 'yes'. Murray replied, 'okay,' and walked away.

So I suppose this defensive drafting philosophy is more a product of circumstance than design after all.

...and whatever happened to Mike Comrie?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Don't hate the Heat

The Ottawa Sun recently filled two complete pages with comments from their website and letters from readers likening the recently condemned Dany Heatley to some sort of treasonous turn-coat. The resentment for Heatley is palpable in the papers and online, where many anonymous so-called fans unleash their narrow-minded and reactionary vitriol.

I, for one, don't even dislike the guy. In fact, I think Heatley's handling of his apparent dislike for the Ottawa Senators organization, and recently reported trade request, has been commendable. Any likening to Alexei Yashin is entirely unwarranted, and here's why:

He waited until the offseason to leak to the media his intentions. Such a story in the middle of a season would have knocked the Sens entirely off track to recovery. A truly classless individual would have announced his preference to be traded as soon as the thought crossed his mind.

A couple seasons ago, Heatley was one of a small group of players whose character was unquestioned during the Ray Emery Crisis (copyrighted term). He was, until a week ago, seen as a possible future captain of the team.

Heatley did not go directly to the media and attempt to sway public opinion in his favour by attempting to place blame on the GM, coaches, or teammates. Offering such a conversation to any daily newspaper would have spared him of this sort of mean-spirited attack, in exchange for a juicy story. (Seriously... Brennan, did he break into your house and punch your wife in the face or something? Direct the anger at the therapist-perscribed life-sized facimile of your father.)

Yashin held out for an entire season because he wanted more money. Heatley's situation is entirely different and has nothing to do with greed at this time (he already got the big contract). He wants out because he's unhappy. Heatley probably has personal problems and attitudes that we shouldn't attempt to boil into one paragraph. Hockey players are complete people that have feelings, relationships, and families to take care of.

If Heatley wants out of town because he's on the second power-play unit, let him go. If the answer is so simple, then let him walk and accept whatever is gained through the trade. If he has no heart (a possibly fatal medical condition which Heatley didn't seem to suffer from before this trade request), it's better to get rid of him now than to have him lounge around for another five seasons.

Finally, it's unlikely that Heatley will reach the heights of goal-scoring that he did with the Ottawa Senators at any other organization. He gave his best years to the Sens and their fans, and for the time he has spent here has never been anything but a model NHL player and community contributor.

On another note:

Here's what I've been up to so far this summer: I finished my degree at the University of Ottawa, organized a trip to Europe with my friends, executed said trip, had my convocation ceremony and am re-settling into my apartment with some new life priorities, including finding a career. I would rather be a fair-weather blogger than a fair-weather human. Any commentor who would like to personally sponsor the Sens Army Blog daily updates should send me an email.

Thanks to everyone who has commented constructively to figuring this Heatley situation out. I would love to get somebody like Phaneuf and a 1st-round draft pick in return. The draft's not far away, and I'm looking forward to seeing what moves Murray will make now that the farm team's loaded with (what's that catch phrase?) puck-moving defencemen.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Don't Let The Door Hit You, Heater

So Dany Heatley wants out of Ottawa.

It's certainly not the first time the Sens have been spurned by a star player, and it probably won't be the last. I have a suggestion on how to deal with these types of players... In the next CBA, it should be a rule that any player who waives his no-trade clause once on a long-term contract loses the no-trade privilege for the remainder of the contract, no matter how many years are left on it. Call it the "you can't have your cake and eat it too" clause.

While Heatley's request is nowhere near as infamous as the manner in which Alexei Yashin left town, it is no less disappointing from the human point of view. Here's a guy who wanted to leave Atlanta to get a fresh start after having killed his best friend in a car accident. He was more than happy to come to the Sens then. And as long as he's been allowed to generally float around the ice and do his sniper thing, he's been happy.

The problem with Heatley is that sniping is his only strength as a player. That will get you only so far in your career (ask Peter Bondra). When he's been asked to play out of his comfort zone, Heatley has shown all the enthusiasm of a sullen child who'd rather play his Wii than go visit Grandma in the nursing home. Hey, Heater, you make $7.5 Million - SUCK IT UP.

So it turns out that where there's smoke there's fire after all. As much as they tried to deny it at the time, there was friction between Cory Clouston and Heatley, so much so that Heatley can't play for him. You know, a lot of people don't like their boss - but if you can't get beyond that and be a professional, I have little hope for you as a human being.

I'm just glad in this case the coach won. It would have sucked to have to hire a new coach to cater to the whims of this unstable individual who couldn't forecheck to save his life, who despite his size would cower away from more physical players, and who in the end wasn't able to check his ego at the door and be the team player this team needed him to be.

Hopefully the Sens will get someone good in return for him. It will depend on who's willing to offer the most attractive package. Hopefully this deal gets done by the trade deadline, because if Heatley brings his suck attack into training camp it will just fester and be dressing room poison. The problem is there are only so many dance partners who have the cap space without having to move a roster player.

Personally, if there was some way of swinging a deal with Calgary and getting Dion Phaneuf back, that would be sweet. A bona fide number one defenceman could put the Sens into the playoffs again. It's about all the Sens need - they already have plenty of talented forwards.

Buh-bye, Dany. Been nice knowin' you. I certainly won't miss hearing that abominable Glenn Frey song they played every time you scored.
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