Monday, December 1, 2008

We're all boring: MacGregor

Last Friday, The Globe and Mail's Roy MacGregor wrote an article about the decline of the creative player in the history of the Ottawa Senators. Focussing the article on Jason Spezza and the hard time Ottawa's number one centre has been getting in this fine city of late, MacGregor went back through history using the examples of Alexandre Daigle, Alexei Yashin, Wade Redden, and Joe Corvo to prove that Ottawa hockey fans hate creativity:

"The reality is that fans in this government town have a hard time warming to hockey players who gamble, or take chances or dare to be creative.

"In the early years of the modern Senators, when chances were rendered irrelevant because the team wasn't going to make the playoffs anyway, they turned on Alexandre Daigle for his blind passes. They later turned on Alexei Yashin for several reasons, among them his penchant for hanging onto the puck and trying to go through entire teams — twice if possible.

"More recently, they turned on defenceman Wade Redden — a community-oriented young man who loved the city — because, well, he kept chancing long passes to breaking forwards that didn't exactly work out each time he tried them.

"And they turned on defenceman Joe Corvo — who made no bones about disliking his time in Ottawa — because he kept jumping up into the play and vacating the post he would have been attached to if the Senators were a table-hockey team rather than an ice hockey team.

"Try the dickie-dickie-doo in Ottawa and they'll run you out of town if they don't all work out."
Let's go over the individual circumstances of each player MacGregor suggests we chased out of town based on their failed dickie-dickie-doos:

  1. Daigle: You're kidding, right? Daigle had a good rookie season, but dropped off significantly after that. He just didn't seem to be interested in committing to the rigours of being a full-time NHLer. After failing in Philadelphia, Minnesota, and an acting career, Daigle went to Switzerland to play a more relaxed brand of hockey.
  2. Yashin: I think it was more the constant contract disputes that made us angry at Yashin, more than his risk-taking. You know, holding out on a contract and demanding it be renegotiated really isn't going to endear you to Ottawa fans.
  3. Redden: Was never chased out of town. Redden wasn't re-signed after his contract came up, because he's just not a $6.5M player. And when he came back to Ottawa for the first time, you'd think he was Ottawa's city-wide hero based on the ovation that he received.
  4. Corvo: Maybe instead of blaming Ottawa fans you should look at Ottawa media for the reason why Corvo left town. Particularly Ottawa Sun beat writers, who dubbed him 'Uh-Oh' Corvo and were merciless in their criticism, Corvo demanded a trade. Despite the fact that he didn't like the city, he remains popular with a lot of fans here.
There are plenty of fans who are unnecessarily harsh in their criticisms of Spezza, but--and I've said this before--offensive creativity and defensive responsibility aren't mutually exclusive. Most criticism Spezza receives is just overzealous demands that he be the best player he can be, by making creative plays when the time is right, and being responsible when he needs to be. Daniel Alfredsson is the best example of this in Senators history; he'll mess around with the puck, even on a penalty kill, but he'll make sure he doesn't screw up. And on the occasion he does make a mistake, Alfie is the first one back to help make up for it. That's all were asking from our skilled players.

EDIT: I e-mailed this post to Roy MacGregor, and he was nice enough to send me this response:
"That's great, Peter. The beauty of sports columns is that they are just good fun and fodder for debate. I welcome it. But you'd have to admit if you listen to the idiots who call in to the Fan 1200, they seem to despise anyone who thinks there should be creativity in the game.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin