Monday, January 24, 2011

Other than the Wells trade, what we learned this weekend

This weekend, we learned through Roy MacGregor of the Globe that the Ottawa Senators are finally going to go through a rebuilding process. Ottawa finish off their pre-All Star schedule at home to Buffalo on Tuesday, and in their recent stretch where they've lost 11 of 12 games, they have been outscored 49-20. That is, well, horrible, and the team hasn't been able to score this year, or put shots on net, or generate chances. They are 29th in goals, 24th in shots and 29th in 5-on-5 scoring.

The team aren't in a too bad of a position for a rebuild since they'll see a lot of expiring contracts over the next couple of years and aren't going to be signing any big names for a while (if they do it right). Alex Kovalev, Chris Phillips and Pascal Leclaire are done after this year, which erases $12.2 million. Filip Kuba and his $3.7 million (holy crap) goes after next year, along with Chris Kelly. The real problems land with Sergei Gonchar, Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher going for a combined $12.575 million until 2013. Jason Spezza is under lock and key for $7 million until 2015. Actually, why don't I just post this link?

They have some solid young pieces, which is true of any team starting a rebuild. Nick Foligno is already an everyday NHLer, along with Erik Karlsson, for all their faults, they will be strong players in the years ahead, and the team is a workable 16th in Hockey's Future organizational rankings. Jason Spezza is still an offensive threat, but is having to show his defensive abilities under Cory Clouston.

What the team really needs is a couple of lottery picks and find a decent goaltender somewhere in this system, as well as distance themselves as much as possible from the chaotic regime of General Manager Bryan Murray. I understand Murray was dealt a shitty hand when Dany Heatley refused to be traded to Edmonton for that lovely package they offered, instead going to San Jose for Milan Michalek and probably the worst ever goal-scoring champion in the history of hockey.

The first step is admitting you have a problem, and Ottawa has taken that step where Calgary and Toronto have faltered so far. There's that, and while the report didn't guarantee that Murray and Clouston will be far, far away at the start of the 2011 season, there's something to look forward to in Ottawa a few years down the road.

Meanwhile, we learned that Marty Turco doesn't like Pierre McGuire.

This picture was taken during the NBC broadcast of the Chicago and Philadelphia game. Turco just did what is surely on the minds of all of his former unwilling between-whistle interview subjects.

Rumours are swirling (I have no idea where they came from) that McGuire is pushing to get the Ottawa GM job when it becomes available. First order of business is to not trade for Marty Turco.

We also learned that Canada does well at our fringe sports, too. Milos Raonic, the Serbian-Canadian tennisball athlete actually defeated a couple of ranked opponents this weekend at the Australian Open before falling to David Ferrer in the fourth round. Thumbs-up to a singles tennis player we can cheer for.

Also, figure-skater Patrick Chan put together a Canadian record score during the free skate and won his fourth consecutive national title. CBC is claiming he is the "man to beat" at the worlds. I can't help but think that the use of the noun 'man' in this instance is very, very presumptive.

Before you knock figure skating, keep in mind that the sport has the ability to make Scott Russell cry.

Finally, a weird story out of Kingston, Ontario. Former Team Canada defenseman and current Kingston Frontenac Erik Gudbranson sat a game due to what his agent Mark Guy credits to "some internal things that went on." Apparently Gudbranson got into a spat with his coach Doug Gilmour after a loss to the Windsor Spitfires. Gudbranson ended up being benched for an 8-6 loss to Guelph before being re-insterted to do this in a game against Oshawa:

Originally reported to be losing his alternate captaincy as a result of the dust-up with his coaches, he was wearing it again for his game Sunday against Saginaw, and this incident may have something to do with it. Neate, as usual, has all the dirty details about the turn of events.

Needless to say, this is a sexy story that has in-fighting, on-ice fighting and some wild decisions made by an inexperienced coach over a few stitches on the front of a jersey. Even if we weren't being piggybacked by a Team Canada star player, we would have something here. For the record, it's not fair for a coach to question Gudbranson's commitment to the team (what allegedly the fight was about) especially if the result is that Gudbranson will try to prove them wrong. You never want a top defenseman sitting out misconducts rather than being on the ice. Benching Gudbranson for a game is as silly and reactionary as getting into a sparring match with words over commitment concerns. Can't we just play hockey?

Let's have some fun this week with the new video review rules, where apparently the video crew can arbitrarily decide a puck was in the net despite the puck never being in the frame. The rule of course, only applies if the guys in the War Room are too tired to let this continue.


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