Monday, August 31, 2009

Does a deadline matter?

The Dany Heatley saga is at a deadlock and a stalemate. It's going nowhere fast.

In a recent conference call with fans (an excellent idea, IMO, so kudos to the organization for that), Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray said that he would impose a deadline on Heatley to accept a trade. If he doesn't comply, Heater would risk spending the whole season with the Sens.

"I probably would be wise to (set) a deadline within a day or so and then stop trying. But I've got to at least do what's best for the organization and that is continue to work at it," Murray said.

But I think the past few months have made it abundantly clear that nothing is going to happen before training camp. And we know that if Murray was happy with any trade offer he was receiving for Heatley, he would present the offer to the former 39-goal man (yeah, I'm turning on you, Heater).

Lord knows that Murray would trade Heatley in the second period of opening night, if he could.

So what's the point of the deadline? I'm kind of baffled.

Is it to soothe the mind of season ticket holders? They would probably trade in all their tickets to kick Dany in the nuts 41 times.

Is it calling Heatley's bluff? He's already stated that he would return to the team and "try" his "best" (and not in those words).'s a weird thing to say, because it's toothless. Do you, loyal reader, believe that Murray would impose a deadline on himself? I bet he's just tired of calling 29 GMs everyday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stupid Kovalev, really stupid

When a reporter asks you, Alex Kovalev, a stupid question that you think answering might piss off a whole punch of people, you do what Dany Heatley does: you go hide in BC for three months.

But instead, you went and told a reporter in Montreal...

"That's why I say, maybe after two years I'll be back again [in Montreal]. It definitely would be nice to retire here."

He tried to salvage it by saying...

"But it's not for me to talk about Montreal - I'm part of another organization. I'm going to go there and do the best I can and we'll see what happens."

No! That's does not undo the previous sentence!

I'm always an advocate for saying what you really mean, but what you said was really mean! Fuck, man... let go of Montreal. I hate to break it to you, but chances are that you are never going back there. They didn't want you at age 36 - they're sure as hell not going to want you at 38.

"Yeah geez, I like my current wife... but you know what? My ex-wife is probably still going to be available in a couple years, so I might check her out again. I hear she got a boob job."

Just plain stupid.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fuck the Sens, check this guy out

It's been a busy week for me, personally. I've been writing some freelance stories for the East Ottawa Star, trying not to get too caught up in the stream-of-consciousness style that blogging tends to lure writers into. You know, not just re-posting other people's work, but actually calling people, and talking to them. (It's more difficult than it sounds).

The editors there do a lot of legwork for their freelancers, and last week, I was presented with the opportunity of speaking with Orleans native Erik Gudbranson, a 6' 3" defenceman from the Kingston Frontenacs.

Captain Canada

Forget Ryan Smyth, they should call this kid Captain Canada. Since January, he's played in three tournaments representing both Ontario and Canada in international competition.

In January, he competed in BC as captain of Ontario's U17 team. And as you can see, they won the big trophy.

In April, he took off to Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota to compete in the IIHF U18 championships. No hardware from that one - a fourth place finish, losing the bronze medal game in a shootout to Finland.

Of course, any time Canada doesn't win gold in international hockey competitions, something is amiss (I don't know wtf is wrong with the Olympics these days). The IIHF U18's happen during the OHL playoffs, meaning many of Canada's best 17 year-old players are unable to travel and compete.

Luckily, there's another tournament held in the Czech Republic and Slovakia that made everything right--and Erik was there, of course. The Ivan Hlinka memorial tournament (for 18 year-olds and younger) is considered the truer test of international hockey strength because it occurs in the depths of summer, when all are free to compete. As a result, Canada won gold (of course).

(FYI: Ivan Hlinka was one of the first and most dominant Czech hockey players. He briefly coached in the NHL and was tragically killed in 2004.)

But we didn't just win, we cream 'em. Canada won every game they played (and maybe even some they didn't) from the preliminaries all the way to the finals. These Canadian goal-scoring robots (I suspect) beat their opponents by a combined score of 40-7. In the final, they put Team Russia to shame with a 9-2 massacre.

Draft ready

Erik is pegged by some to go early in the first round of the 2010 NHL draft. He was recently featured on as a North American player to watch for the draft.

But there's more to the story than a solid young defender making it big. Check out the youtube vid.

In a world of overpaid and overly sensitive "stars", this guy seems to have the right ideas and the right values. I'm looking forward to following this native Ottawan and proud Canadian's career develop over the next few seasons.

More stories on Erik (by friend of the blog, and huge Sens fan, Dan Plouffe):

Captain Gudbranson wins U17 worlds for Ontario

Gudbranson will play for Canada at Ivan Hlinka tourney

PS: When I was interviewing Erik and he referred to his coach in Kingston as "Dougie", I almost spit. I'm no Leafer, but even I would call him Mr. Gilmour. Apparently, Killer's cool with it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The face of the future

Went out on a limb on Saturday and bought a newspaper. A paper one. After getting through the Heatley stories on A1, A5, G1, and G3 (including this weird one where Queens university professors are asked to analyze the characteristics of his speech... for some reason), I noticed an ad on the back page of the sports section...

I don't much like the Gerberesque black mask (and Sens marketers should have picked up on that connotation when they were doing the photo shoot), but the ad seems to send a message: Pascal Leclaire is the man. He's new, he's young, and there's no doubt who the starting goaltender will be on Day 1.

I think that the Sens have to bank on their new guys, both on the ice and in the ticket office. Alex Kovalev, perhaps the most daring free agent signing in the history of the franchise, rightfully graces the splash page of the Sens official website at the moment. It's great to see him in equipment and a Senators jersey.

Training camps and the preseason are fast approaching, and once this Dany Heatley charade blows over, I think we'll find some reasons to be excited about the upcoming season. With a new guy in net and a new scorer ready to show Montreal what they're missing, I have to admit that I can't wait to see opening night versus the Islanders.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Heatley says things you already knew

It was a pure telephone conference, in a tightly controlled environment, but the reporters finally got their questions in. And the result? Nada.

On reason for trade: Role was diminished and "I feel I'm a player that can play in a lot of different situations."

On trade to Edmonton: "I wasn't ready to make a decision at that time" ... "It has everything to do with the options. That's the bottom line" ... "I know there's more options out there".

On fans in Ottawa:
"I think, first of all, I love the fans in ottawa, I think it's a great city." ... ""I have nothing against the fans in Ottawa."

So what did we learn kiddies?

Well, we already learned it yesterday: Heatley will report to Sens training camp in a few weeks, and will not hold out.

I guess we'll wait for the real press conference. Thanks to Hockey Capital for posting the Heatley comments.

Update: Heatley says he didn't leak the trade to the media because he didn't want to cause a circus. I wouldn't be surprised if Bryan Murray was actually the one who did it in order to create this wave of resentment against Heatley, and force him to accept whatever trade (edit: the best one, whatever team) he could get.

Live blogs all the rage today at noon

No, I'm not hosting one.

But if you're interested, James Duthie will be discussing Team Canada at noon today for CTV/TSN -- CTV Olympics.

And the Ottawa Citizen's Hockey Capital blog will be weeding out the screamers and crazies at 12:45 pm, when the Dany Heatley press conference kicks off. -- Ottawa Citizen

Expect lots of CAPS LOCK from the latter. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Balsillie's got nothing on Eugene

Photo courtesy wikipedia and

(alternate headline: "Oh thank God, something happened")

Pretend Hamilton Predators owner Jim Balsillie has cited Senators owner Eugene Melnyk as a case of questionable character among NHL owners.

I suppose ol' Jimmy is using the "but if 'Gene gets one, I should get one too!" defence. But if he's looking at Melnyk as an example of a questionable owner, he won't find ammunition, at least as far as the NHL is concerned.

We're accustomed to terrible professional sports owners here in Ottawa. Ones who threaten to move the franchise on an annual basis, forget to give players their cheques, or suggest that women remove clothing during games as a ploy to boost attendance. Compared to these morons, Melnyk is a saint, and Balsillie's mudslinging will fall on deaf ears in Canada's capital.

I get your point, Jim. NHL owners are not flawless - Melnyk is under investigation by governments in both the United States and Canada for his part in alleged illegal activity when he was CEO of drug-maker Biovail. But when it comes to the Senators, Melnyk has been everything the franchise could have asked for (unless you asked him to fire Bryan Murray two years ago). Melnyk even spearheaded the campaign to bring the World Junior Championships to Ottawa last year.

Melnyk took a financially troubled franchise, and injected not only money and stability, but a will to win and an aggressive attitude, while maintaining community ties and generally improving the franchise (in all ways but the win column, recently).

I think that Canadians are generally in favour of having another NHL team within its borders. We are the originators of hockey, and still its most passionate fans. Not only does Hamilton deserve a franchise, but so do Quebec City and Winnipeg. Undoubtedly, a new team in Canada would flourish, but Balsillie's taking his anger out on the wrong targets.

When it comes to bashing the franchise decisions of the NHL, he'll find great support amongst frustrated Canadian hockey fans. But if his sights are set on Melnyk, Jim should aim to become like Melnyk (who should have proven to be a great ally in Balsillie's struggle to become an NHL owner), and not his opponent.

Steve Yzerman is a hero and Dany Heatley's a wimp

Yzerman continues to demonstrate why he was a great captain for more than two decades in Detroit. He arranged a press conference so that Dany "speak no evil" Heatley could finally explain to the fans and reporters why he went all loco and demanded a trade out of Ottawa. It will be good for both Team Canada (who are better off with Heatley), and the Senators (who may be better off without him).

Listen to this:
“It has to be addressed. We’ll get it done. Obviously, it will be a hot topic for one day. Everybody get it out of the way. Everybody ask the questions that need to be asked. Dany, answer those questions. And everybody move on.”
I'll give you one guess who said that. Clue: He's a hero (and has a scary eyeball).

PS: I think it's safe to say that Heatley won't be traded in the next 48 hours (two weeks ago).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Where will you be in 2010?

There's not a lot of news coming out of Sens Land these days, unless you're a fan of golf tournaments and/or endless and pointless speculation. So, like many Canadians, I'm desperate for whatever hockey coverage I can find. And that means one thing: provoking more NHL players to assault cab drivers.

...but seriously, it means it's time to start thinking about the winter Olympics (and not just because I'm losing weight while I'm writing this due to the heat wave in Ottawa).

With the Olympics in Vancouver now less than 6 months from commencing, I began to think about where I'll be watching the game in February. A couple games at home with a beer, sure. But for the finale, I'll be in a bar on Elgin St. or in the Byward market, awaiting the parade of frozen and all-too-enthusiastic fans to Parliament Hill.

The City of Ottawa is uniquely equipped to throw a good party during the Olympics. Undoubtedly, the federal government will be acting like it's their Super Sweet Sixteen (not that I ever watch MTV... ), and will put up some TV screens, flags, and some events to help Canadians feel united... and I intend to take full advantage of them. The Games are all the way across the continent, but the spotlight will still shine partly on the Nation's Capital.

Also, the important hockey games will probably occur during a east and west coast-friendly 10 pm time slot, allowing for plenty of pre-game beer and celebrating. Yes, the party in Ottawa will be sweet, and we should take full advantage of it.

So I present to you the bars where I will attempt to watch the 2010 Olympic men's hockey finals (and the likely outcome):

1. MacLaren's (301 Elgin St.) - Many large hi-def TVs and the food isn't too expensive... but it will be packed many hours before the game. (Peek in, then dejected walk away).

2. Earl of Sussex (431 Sussex Dr.) - Great mix of class and fun at this bar, but I'm not sure if they allow yelling amongst all the leather-bound books and air chairs; low ceiling in areas not great for excited jumping up and down. (Discover patrons are watching obscure rugby tournament and reading novels instead, head back to Elgin).

3. Sir John A. (284 Elgin St.) - Not a lot of TVs, or sitting areas near them. Bar will undoubtedly be packed full of rejects from MacLarens. (Land up staring at back of black and red silly top hat in crowded standing room, trying to see the TV; enjoy second period while top hat man goes for a smoke).

Wild card: Minglewoods (
14 Waller St.) - Okay, this is the last straw. It's 9:30 pm, and I'm freezing my freezing my butt off from walking around Ottawa all evening. They have a few TVs and the occasional chair amongst the discarded popped collars and loop earrings from the previous night's festivities; cheap beer. (Sing '¡ole, ole, ole, ole!' with group of people who are drinking red bull and vodka, and clearly don't understand hockey, while Toews scores the winning goal on Martin Gerber and team Switzerland; Sens promptly re-sign Gerber following tournament.)

PS: I'm a fan of the black jersey they used in 2006, and strangely attracted to the yellow ones that were rarely used in other tournaments.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spezza gets kick at Olympic can

Hey - if Jordan Staal and his 49 points gets an invite to the Team Canada orientation camp, why not the guy who collected 73 points on a team that didn't win the Stanley Cup?

Jason Spezza was invited to the camp later this month to replace the injury Ryan Getzlaf.

Good call Mr. Yzerman. Why don't you visit Nepean any more? We miss you and the scariest fucking eyeball I've ever seen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

As expected, Elliott will stay

Senators sophomore goaltender Brian Elliott will be staying in Ottawa for the foreseeable future, signing on for two years at $800k and $900k per season.

After trading Alex Auld in July, the Sens knew that Elliot would be their backup for the upcoming season, and the restricted free agent decided to stick around.

During a great rookie season, in which he posted a 16-8-3 record, Elliott was practically sharing the #1 duties with Auld toward the end of the season. I hate to say it, considering all the goalie controversy in Ottawa over the past several seasons, but I expect Elliott to play a significant number of games in 2009-10.

Signing for two years, Elliott's contract will end the same year as incoming starter Pascal Leclaire. Then, I suppose, the Sens will have to decide whether Elliott's growth has been sufficient to trust him with the #1 spot, and bid adieu to Leclaire. But let's hope that it's a difficult decision.

Monday, August 3, 2009

No way, (San) Jose

A few days ago, I came across this excellent piece of rebuttal from the National Post's Noah Love. Not one to be caught up in hype, Love predicted and dismissed the recently reported Dany Heatley-to-San Jose a full two weeks ago.

Yeah sure, the Canadiens could somehow be involved, adding another forward to the package, but Love's points remain: the deal just doesn't fit under the cap.

Getting back to the speculated San Jose/Ottawa deal, it's worth pointing out that it makes almost no sense for the Senators either. The Sens are pushing $2-million over the cap at the moment, and the suggestion that Ottawa takes back more than one player — say Marleau and Cheechoo — is absurd for both sides.

For the Senators, it puts them even further over the cap and gives them an expensive forward who produces little for the money (Cheechoo). For the Sharks, they take back a player whose salary — $1.2-million more than Marleau's — still takes a bite out of their cap number and leaves them short yet another forward.

In the magical scenario proposed by the Sun, the Sens would receive Cheechoo and defenceman Christian Erhoff (a combined 6.1 million in salary). Taking back Heatley's salary (7.5-million for the next five years) still adds to the Shark's cap woes, rather than relieving them.

So if you're wondering why San Jose GM Doug Wilson has been so reluctant to discuss his interest in such a deal, it's probably because he has none.
End of story.
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