Paddock is not a kind of fish….or is it?

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I’ve fired people before.  I don’t like it.  There is not one minute of the process that I enjoy.  It does not matter if I like the person or not.  It just plain sucks.  I don’t (yet) know what it’s like to be fired, but I suspect it also sucks. 

So, with that said, I am not glad that John Paddock, who by all reports is a good man, was fired.  I am, howver, relieved that Paddock was fired and there is nothing mean spirited in my statement or feeling. 

It has been pure torture watching as the wheels on the bus would no longer go ’round ‘n ’round.  It’s a little ironic that Paddock was thrown under a bus that isn’t moving.  I guess it then makes sense that he was offered another job in the organization.  Since the bus won’t kill him, they may as well put him to work. 

So, what’s been wrong with the Senators? 

The simplest thing to do is to go back to what was different when they were playing well. 

1. Hitting; the biggest difference I see between the 16-3 Senators and the pile of crap that lost 5-0 to the Leafs is that they just don’t take the body.  Mike Fisher was even a little guilty of laying off on potential hits from time to time and I don’t ever remember thinking that about him in the past.  (note: the same cannot be said for the next game against the Bruins.  I’ve seen too many people saying that the Sentors had another poor effort in Boston and that just wasn’t the case.  They played some pretty shitty hockey, but the effort was good)

2. Gap Control:  Another part of being difficult to play against is limiting time and space.  They Senators were lauded for being difficult to play against in the early season (by a Leafs player, no less) and the tapes of those games show defensemen stepping up to take away space from an on-rushing forward; closing down gaps and being quick to the passing lanes. 

When you boil it down, those are the two areas where they’ve stunk lately.  To be sure, there have been nights where the effort just wasn’t there and the 5-0 loss to the Leafs was certainly one of them, but pretty much all of their problems stem from these two issues.  Emery and Gerber have looked bad and while they may not be top shelf goalie talent, they were being helped by a team that was tough to play against from hitting and gap control standpoints.  Emery’s and Gerber’s poor performances are a sympton of the problem.  It would be great if we had a top shelf goalie (you want Heatley and Spezza on the team, right?), but either one of these guys, [big qualifier coming] when in the right state of mind are enough to get us there if we’re tending to business in other areas. 

So, back to the fish under the bus.  I would say, unequivocally, that Paddock is responsible for the two problems as I see them.  He’s the one who either has to motivate them to do these things, or teach them how to do these things.   And I’ll say this, often times the coaches that players like best, are the ones who don’t deserve a job.   Not to mention, I was really getting tired with the endless tinkering with the lines.  Let them create some chemistry for chrissakes.

One last thing to consider:  In the lockout year, Paddock was coaching a Baby Sens team that included the likes of Spezza, Volchenkov, Pothier, Meszaros, Emery, Hamel, Eaves, Schubert and Steve Martins; all of whom had either played in the NHL already or would shortly.  They lost to a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team that finished 14 points behind them in the standing, in the first round of the playoffs.  From this, you might even have been able to predict that Paddock was not adept at getting the most out of his players.

I love my job and would feel like complete crap if it was taken from me.  So, I feel bad for John Paddock today because he’s lost a job I’m assuming he loved.   I wish him well, but I really wish he’d been better for the Senators. 

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