Archive for April, 2008

Can We Burn Stuff NOW???

April 22, 2008

Perhaps they’re not aware that they haven’t won anything yet.  Yup, premature celebration is a little embarrassing.

Random and Annoying Stupid Shit

April 22, 2008

Is being the best player on the opposing team really enough of a reason to justify booing by the home town crowd every time he touches the puck?  I doubt it has any effect on the player and what is the point?  Booing someone simply because they’re good??  I don’t get it.  It’s embarrassing!!

If I have to read one more article that starts out “after the Senators started off 15-2….”, I’m going to get out my stock pot and make some cream of beat writer soup.  Oh, and another gem that often follows the other quote, “….many were comparing the Senators to the ’77 Habs who lost only 8 games on the season”.  Uhhhh…..noooooooooo; a few people in the media were trying to get the rest of us to make that leap at the time.  I didn’t hear/see that comparison from even one right minded person. 

The Versus coverage tonight gives me hope that they actually have a few hockey fans making decisions somewhere in the chain of command.   They could have shown a game 6 between two large market US based teams (Philly and Washington) with arguably the best player in the game.  But no, they are showing game 7 of the Boston/Montreal matchup.   Honestly, I was fully expecting Philly Versus Ovechkin.  Good on them!!!  I really just wish one of the games had started at 7:30 eastern so I could have caught the better part of both games, but that’s hardly the fault of Versus (and a touch whiney on my part).

For the first time ever, I saw Carey Price seriously out of position as a Bruin Dman is winding up for a slapper from the point.  The shot wasn’t on net.  Granted I don’t watch all of the Hab games, but he was in Laval on that one.  A minute or so later, Mark Streit makes it 2-0 on a very pretty play.  That’s the way it goes.  (I was about to add “sometimes”, but it’s really the way it goes quite often.)

Yo, Dude…Can I Use Your Mirror?

April 20, 2008

Excessive Partying” addressed in the MSM?  I guess that’s a polite way to put it and still not quite honest.  Yup, that great big bag in the middle of the room contains an elephant…it’s certainly too big to be a cat. 

Speaking of a party (well, I won’t be speaking of one NOW), so much for my center ice seats in the Medtronic suite for game 7 at the Xcel Energy Center.

The $56 Million Question

April 19, 2008

[Hello to you Hammers coming over from Iain Dale’s blog.  Just thought I’d let you know I’m a Spurs supporter.  We don’t need Bellamy because Keane is on his way back to White Hart Lane]

I’m quite aware that this will reveal that I require medication for my schizophrenia, but I’m going to show you here how the Senators can go about their offseason without blowing up the whole shittin’ works.  This after my assertion that the team was crap.  Well, I took care of the denial portion of my grief while the team was still playing so I was able to jump right to anger.  Aren’t emotions fun?!  I still like our talent and I think the adjustments really just need to come in the attitude department and defensive stylings. 

First of all, I’m going to make a few assumptions:  Ray Emery will not be back (Murray has said as much).  And Randy Robitaille has zero chance of returning.  This is based on what I know of him from his time with the Wild and a bit of inside info on how well liked he was in Ottawa (measured in negative terms).  Luke Richardson will retire.  I don’t know this, but I’ll be shocked if he’s in the equation next year.  I will further assume that the salary cap is going to the rumoured $56 million and that the Senators will want to be $2 million under the cap for flexibility with callups and trades.  The target is $54 million in salaries (for those of you with an arithmetic challenge)

Below is a salary schedule of players both currently under contract and those scheduled to be either UFA or RFA.  The first column shows their current salary and in the second column is where I hope to generate some discussion.  This column has “salaries committed” in regular type.  The bold and italic numbers are what I, Al Willig The GM, would be willing to pay this player to bring them back.  Yes, at this point, I’m just going to take these guys’ words at face value and assume that all of these players want to come back.  And, with only 1 exception, if these unsigned players are not willing to play for the dollar figures I’ve outlined, I don’t want them back.  This is not to say that they would not be offered more money on the open market.  This is what I feel these players are worth to the Senators.

 

POS Name 2007-08 2008-09
D Wade Redden 6,500,000 3,500,000
RW Dany Heatley 4,500,000 7,500,000
C Jason Spezza 4,500,000 7,000,000
RW Daniel Alfredsson 4,338,996 4,338,996
G Martin Gerber 3,700,000 3,700,000
D Chris Phillips 3,500,000 3,500,000
D Anton Volchenkov 2,500,000 2,500,000
C Mike Fisher 1,500,000 4,200,000
C Chris Kelly 1,265,000 2,000,000
RW Chris Neil 1,100,000 1,100,000
C/LW Antoine Vermette 1,000,000 2,500,000
D Andrei Meszaros 984,200 1,200,000
RW Shean Donovan 925,000 1,000,000
D Christoph Shubert 883,333 883,333
C/LW Dean McAmmond 875,000 875,000
RW Brian McGrattan 525,000 550,000
LW Nick Foglino 850,000 850,000
D Mike Commodore 1,250,000 2,200,000
LW Cory Stillman 1,750,000 2,500,000
D Brian Lee 1,275,000 1,275,000
C Cody Bass 513,333 513,333
D Lawrence Nycholat 550,000 550,000
RW Martin Lapointe 2,400,000 1,500,000
C Alex Nikulin 833,333 833,333
G Backup Goalie   1,000,000
  Emery Buyout   562,500
  Total 47,968,195 58,131,495
       
  Committed Salary   41,181,495

Now the first thing you should be noticing is that Wade Redden is still on the list.  The second thing you should notice is that there are 25 players on this schedule, which is probably 3 more than the Senators would carry, so, there is automatically some cushion built in.  Lastly, you should note that there are only 8 defensemen on the list; the minimum number the team would want to have going into the season, so if any of them take their services elsewhere, there would have to be some dabbling the UFA market to fill the hole.  Let’s address the players not under contract. I’ll take them in the order of least controversial to most controversial.

Brian McGratton:  Some have suggested that McGratton will be looking for a big raise.  I would suggest that McGratton should be happy with a job in the NHL.  Pugilists who are healthy scratches down the stretch and in the playoffs don’t deserve big raises.  $550,000 really should be enough (barring ignorance displayed by the writer of collective bargaining requirements for veterans).  The guys love Grats, so the team should want him back.

Cory Stillman:  Stillman was a pretty large bargain at $1,750,000.  He’s a classy vet with real playmaking skills which is something we’ve been lacking on the second line.  And, he can man the point of the power play.  He’ll turn 35 during the next season (a year younger than Alfie), and his 65 points this year suggest he has some very good hockey left in him.  His words indicate that he wants to play in Canada and he’s said specifically that he wants to be back with the Senators. He clearly deserves a raise and $2.5 million is a good number for him.  I could see the Sens going as high as $3 million to keep him around, but perhaps there’s a little discount to be had.  (hey, you can always hope)

Mike Commodore:  Two or three weeks ago, Commodore wanted nothing to do with coming back to the Senators.  As of the end of the season, he’s seriously reconsidering that position.  This is his first shot at free agency, so it will be interesting to see if he’s intent on testing that.  The market for defensemen is such that even average players get some real cha ching.  Vitaly Vishnevsky is making $1.4 million and I see them as fairly similar players, but I’m sure he can get better money than that on the open market.    

Marty Lapointe:  I really hope the Senators bring Lapointe back; not because he’s the most effective hockey player on the planet anymore, but because he brings an element that this team so dearly needs.  He still has enough game to add value with his work in front of the net, but where I really see him being an influence is in practice.  Lapointe is the kind of guy who will lay out a teammate during a practice session if he feels they’re not working.  Alfie does a great job of leading by example.  Lapointe will lead by making you feel it.  I’m sure he didn’t feel like he had enough time with the team to do that with the 2007.2008 version of the Senators.  I guarantee you he would have no problem next year.  He’s worth a million and a half.

Shean Donovan:  Donovan really started to assert himself during the playoffs.  He showed real hustle and was looking to take the body.  He’s a well above average skater and has good size.  The biggest question I have is Why the hell wasn’t he more effective all season?  I’m from Missouri on Donovan.  I want him to show me something for a whole season.  With that in mind, I wouldn’t offer him more than $1 million, which is still a raise from what he was getting.  The Shean Donovan we had in this regular season is a dime a dozen. 

Antoine Vermette:  This is the one that Murray really needs to get done before July 1.  When I thnk of the stretch run and playoffs, Vermette is the guy I think of really stepping up for the last 10 games.  He was finally given a larger offensive role and I was proud of the way he grasped the brass ring with inspired play.  If they don’t get him signed before July 1, there is a risk that someone would come in with an offer sheet.  Here’s how I would deal with Vermette.  First, I would tell him that he needs to hit the weight room so he can be stronger on the puck.  Then, I would tell him that we’re willing to sign him for 3-6 years at $2.5 million per season.  If that doesn’t interest him, offer him $2 million for one year with a promise to take care of him with a long term extension at $4 million/season if he gets 35 goals or 70 points next season.   The danger is Vermette tells them to stuff it and he receives the offer sheet.  If he is offered $4 million, the Senators would receive a first, second and third round pick and I’d think they’d have to let him go.  If you’re going to commit $4 million to a player, you better be sure that he will be an effective 2nd liner at worst (or Mike Fisher….or Johnny Madden). 

Chris Kelly:  When I think of defensively effective 3rd line forwards, the first names that leap to mind are Sammi Pahlsson, John Madden, Jere Lehtinen, and Mike Fisher.  Chris Kelly is a notch below this group because he’s not as offensively gifted as Fisher and Lehtinen and he’s not as physical as Fisher, Madden or Pahlsson.  He’s as smart and responsible as any of them.  Fisher, Lehtinen and Madden make $4 million.  Pahlsson makes a paltry $1.4 million.  I really believe $2 million is the right number for him.  Chris, you’re not as good as Pahlsson, but we really like you.  How many years do you want at $2 million?

Andrei Meszaros and Wade Redden:  It’s no accident that Meszaros and Redden are the last two players on my list.  No two players drew more ire from the (mostly) faithful, than these two.  Neither were….uh, how should we say…..inspiring with their play this year.  The falloff of their defensive play is simply puzzling.  You’ve always been able to count on one bad giveaway/game from Redden, but this year, it was surprising when it wasn’t two or three.  In his case you can almost understand it a little.  He was three times asked to waive his no trade clause (not the twice that is widely reported).  I can see that taking a toll on the psyche of someone.  I’m sure there are players who would let it roll off their backs and just perform and maybe this says something a bit unflattering about Wade.  But, when he’s happy and comfortable, he’s still an elite talent.  Meszaros has no excuse (that I know of).  Offensively, I might even be charitable and say he’s taken a step forward in his development.  He looked for his offense much more than in the past and when the Senators really just need to get the puck to the net on the power play, he took it upon himself to do just that.  But, his positioning and brutal giveaways were 8 steps backwards and that is most disquieting.  Here’s the upside:  Andrei is only 22 years old and I think a lot of people forget that when thinking about Meszaros because he’s had 3 years of 35+ points; it seems like he’s been with us longer than he has.  How many 22 year old defenseman are fully developed?  Even Phaneuf whom people drool over, still makes a ton of mistakes.  There’s certainly enough to like about what we’ve seen from Meszaros over 3 years to continue working with the young man. 

Andrei, you’re a good person.  You show a lot of promise, but you need to show us you’re going to develop a more solid defensive game.  We’ll give you a year at $1.2 and offer you a 3 year extension at $2.5 million at mid-season if you’re defensive development is back on track. 

As with Vermette, this is a dangerous strategy.  Someone out there is willing to take a chance on a 22 year old defenseman with his history and upside potential.  I could easily see a $3 million offer sheet for Meszaros.  My guess is Murray would decide to match it (which makes my spreadsheet just another piece of paper in the bin). 

Redden and Murray are both saying the right things.  Wade wants to stay and Murray wants him back.  However, I don’t believe the Senators have the ability or will to pay him more than $3.5 million and I don’t believe Redden has much desire to accept a $3 million pay cut.   Not when he has a $6.5 million house in Kelowna (that’s British Columbia for the geographically challenged; nowhere near Ottawa).  It’s just too big of a stretch.  But Wade, if ending your career with the Senators is at all a priority for you, I think we can give you 5 years at this number.  (please keep the expletives to a minimum)

The way I see it, the Senators will be looking for one defenseman for sure and possibly two.  I also predict the end of Christoph Schubert as a 4th line forward.  I wouldn’t put it past Murray to deal for either a goalie or a defensman, but honestly, if we went into the season with the forward lines of:

Spezza, Heatley, Vermette
Alfie, Fisher, Stillman
Kelly, Foglino, Bass
McAmmond, Lapointe, Donovan, McGratton

I would be absolutely fine with that.  As far as the goalie situation goes, Murray has come right out and said that Spezza and Heatley are not going to be traded, so just forget about the Luongo for Spezza thing or a deal for any of the other top 6 goalies in the league.  (anyone else feeling a little sick that we could have had Bryzgalov for a 2nd round pick?)  And if you haven’t figured out that Murray worships the ground that Alfie walks on, you’re not really paying attention and for the money we pay him, he’s a blue light special:  He’s not going anywhere…..EVER.  Would the Senators trade a few young players and draft picks for a top notch goalie?  Probably, but I don’t see a lot of teams out there standing in line to part with their top notch goaltending.  Murray has already said that he would prefer Elliott start the year with 30 games as the number 1 in Bingo.  You may as well start preparing yourself now for a year of (hopefully) Darth Gerber (not the Swiss Miss).  I’m not sure exactly how I feel about that.  I really want to have confidence in the man, but even if he was the best player for the Senators in this playoff year, he still gave up 16 goals in 4 games.  I know that a majority of those were not his fault.  It’s just that you’d like to feel that your goalie can steal a game here or there and you just don’t see Gerbs pulling it off.  Now, having said that, here’s a (probably partial) list of potential UFA goalies:

Curtis Joseph, Jose Theodore, Johan Holmqvist, Dominik Hasek, Dan Ellis, Ty Conklin, Olie Kolzig, Christobal Huet. 

  • Joseph is no one’s answer for a number 1 goaltender anymore. 
  • Theodore is intriguing but he was completely awful for two years before seemingly finding his game this year again.  Do we really want to take a chance on a guy who seems to only play well when his contract is coming to an end??  I’m nowhere near there.  How about you?
  • Holmqvist is a guy I wouldn’t cringe over if he was a backup for Gerbs, but not as a number 1.
  • Hasek…been there, burned the tape in effigy
  • Ellis is certainly intriguing with his play of late, and Mason is set to make $3 million next year.  The Preds may be looking at a Senators type situation with two goalies making $3 million and no clear cut starter.  My money is still on the Preds signing Ellis.
  • Conklin (see Holmqvist)
  • Kolzig (see Conklin)
  • Huet is another intriguing guy, but his play in the series with the Flyers has underwhelmed me.  I wouldn’t call it bad, but much like Gerber, he hasn’t been a difference maker.  As with Theodore, I don’t think we want to offer him the term or dollars he is going to be asking for. 

Alright…I’ve wasted enough of your time.  Discuss.

It Looks Like Crap…It Smells Like Crap…Don’t Call It a Hockey Team

April 17, 2008

Chris Phillips leads the Senators in shots with 4. 

Murray said this game mattered when it comes to the future of the hockey club.  We’ll see if this pile of feces leads to a bit of a wipe or multiple flushes.

I’m not going to try to take the stink off this turd.  I’m not going to do much of anything where it comes to the Senators, for awhile.  I did my “bleeding” after the last game. 

I’m sure something will come up soon that I will have to talk about.  In the mean time, I’ll be at the Wild home games where I get to enjoy playoff hockey without caring about the outcome; a bit of relaxation, if you will.  Enjoy the games!

You’re Fired (up)

April 16, 2008

If the Senators players are as fired up as Garry Galley is, the Penguins don’t stand a chance. 

Every 33 years, a hockey team comes back from a 3-0 deficit.  The last one was 33 years ago. 

It’s Not Dire Until You Lose a HOME Game!!

April 15, 2008

I don’t have a clever lead-in.  I don’t have an angry tirade.  I don’t have anything but hope and a 12 pack at the ready.  We’re 20 minutes from puck drop.  Here’s hoping that every single bad habit, bad play, bad player and bad hairdoo are just a bad memory for the rest of the way.   Let’s hope if we go down, we go down with our best foot, knee, elbow and wicked wristers forward.  I’m off to make popcorn.  Back in a bit.

Oh my heavens, the pre-game fan frenzy whip up strategy was about the lamest thing I’ve seen in a really long time and quite embarrassing.  They had a guy dressed up in Roman centurian garb, speaking in some made-up accent, telling the fans what they damn well better already know; that they need to be a factor in this game.

Perhaps in an effort to get both of them going, Vermette is playing with Heater along with Stillman.  So, I’m going to assume that means the Brothers Gimp are on a line together with Foglino or maybe McAmmond.  We’ll see if it lasts.

My earlier report that Nikulin would be in the lineup, was erroneous.  Must be that nasty bump on my head from falling out of bed.

Here we go: Period 1

It looks like Max Talbot is the Randy Robitaille of the Penguins…”Let’s see….you can either play with Hossa and Crosby, or…..how….about….Laraque and Adam Hall.

Spezza just willingly laid a heavy check on Ruutu.  We may not win this series or even this game, but I like what I see so far.  The energy has been fantastic and the hitting picked up about midway through the period.  I’ll tell you this much; if Mike Foglino had been playing this way all year, he would have never been sent to the minors.

Gerber just made 2 huge saves during a Pens’ power play.  I don’t have the energy or perspective to decide if Gerber is a long-ish term answer for the Senator’s goalie job, but I know he’s been the best player for our team in this series.  Speaking of “best players”, Alfie looks like he’s a $50 bill short of a million bucks.  There’s definitely some will being exerted by the captain and by gawd if the guys can’t feed off that, they may as well be dead and I might help them to get there.

The period ends without a marker, but this is easily the best I’ve seen the Senators play since the last time we beat the Penguins.  The Sens are very quick to the puck and taking away time and space from the Pens at the blue line.  Here’s (more) hoping that the Sens don’t do the usual shit the 2nd period down their legs

On to period 2

As if he read the very sweet things I said about him earlier, Foglino gets us on the board in the first 90 seconds.  But, the lead was short lived as Talbot gets in alone on Gerber and pops it home.  Foglino’s goal seems to have taken the life out of the Senators; go figger!  The Pens have definitely had the better of the play since then, but the defensive pair of Phillips and Commodore look to be changing the feel of things with about 8 minutes left in this period.  Let’s just go ahead and kill off this “good” penalty by Neiler (a cross check on Malkin in front of our net)….what say you, boys?  And now the 2nd penalty on C. Bass???  Whatchoo think????  Please?????  (I’m asking very nicely.) Nice work!

Why is it that we’re just now seeing some spirited play from Shean Donovan?  I’ve been waiting all season for him to consistently take the body.  You’d think he could have found some of that during the regular season.  I guess I should just be happy that he’s bringing it now.  Here’s a good thing…I’m just noticing Petr Sykora for the first time with 6 minutes left in the 2nd period. 

Phillips should have just been given a penalty for covering the puck in the crease which would have meant a penalty shot….we got away with one there. 

The Sens definitely found their legs and their Lost Cojones in the last five minutes of the 2nd period.  1-1 after two…I wish I could say I’m looking forward to the third, but I’m just so freakin’ nervous, I may have to throw up; maybe another beer will help (think about it).

And the puck drops on our season…..ish

as Sidney Crosby skates in and short sides Gerbs about 40 seconds in….and then Spezza doesn’t cover up for Lee who had stepped up at the blue line and some other jerky Penguin scores….Staal or some crap like that, some 60 seconds later.  I’m feeling the season slip away…how about you?  And now Neil takes a bad penalty, so we have to waste two minutes on the PK when we really can’t afford to lose those minutes.  We’re going to have to take a few chances now….fifteen minutes to go. 

Uhhhh….penalties are not chances, guys.  We get a power play and take two penalties while we’re on the man advantage….just f’n awesome!  I thought these guys were playoff vets.  I thought that was the one advantage we might still have in all of this.  That we would be mentally tougher based on what we went through over….oh…say….the last 11 years.   That was more like a bunch of juniors, you weak knee’d mental midgets!  Just awful!!!!!

It’s 4-1 Pens…I think I’m done with this post.  I can’t be any good to anyone the rest of the way….if I ever was.  Here’s a round of applause to Alfie for sackin’ up.  Here’s a round of applause for Wade Redden (I’m serious) for 9 good years of service (yes, I’m well aware he played 11 years in Ottawa).  Here’s a hearty HUZZAH to Ray Emery for giving me a focal point for my frustration (I really hope you find a good use for your energy, Ray.  I hope you pull a Cris Carter and show everyone that you’re not just a loser with a huge attitude.  I hope so….for your sake).  And, not at all insignificant is a HUGE plea to Cory Stillman to not judge this team by the crap experience you’ve had in your short tenure thus far.  Give us a year to show you….please!

Coming soon:  my Calgary Flames blog. (hurting!)

PS  please check back on Wednesday when I’m sure I’ll have thought of some reason we’ll be winning the Cup in 7 weeks.

PPS  In the I don’t believe in destiny category, our friend Scarlett, at Scarlett Ice has had a “don’t make Bunny cry” thing going.  But, this is what has happened here in Minnesota.  My dog, Hossa (yup, I have a dog named Hossa) killed a rabbit in my yard yesterday…..it was a baby bunny; maybe 2 days old.  It’s just a little too much.

Tidbitty Info

April 14, 2008

Alfie may play tonight.  Spezza is likely to play.  Alex Nikulin was called up and will play tonight. 

There are still tickets available….I was just able to go on and pull up row 4 behind the Sens goal…..GRRRR!!!!!

Now I’m Pissed

April 13, 2008

I don’t know that I’ve been this upset in a long time.  You might be expecting a scathing critique of Jason Spezza or a blistering attack on the plastic cones (aka: numbers 14 and 6) but no…..on Friday, I heard that there were still 1000 seats available to game one at the Bank.  Today, I go on Capital Tickets and do a search for two seats; I get lower bowl at the blue line.  This attack is aimed squarely at you, Sens Nation.   

WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU PEOPLE!!!!?????  And I thought the play of Heatley and Spezza was going to make me sick to my stomach.  This is just plain jackassery by the so-called Sens Army.  “”We better not risk another frontal assault, that Penguin’s dynamite.  Would it help to confuse them if we run away more?”  Yup, that’s our Sens Army alright!!

It would seem that the Ottawa region has officially given up.  I’ll be the first to admit that the play of the Senators has been anything but inspiring, but to give up before we’ve even had a home date?  Putrescence!!!,  I really don’t understand why there isn’t a full building.  Playoff hockey is reason enough in and of itself to go to the game. 

Get your goddamn ass out of your basement and fill up the Bank, you jackasses!!

(disclaimer:  those with tickets already (obviously) and the impoverished are inoculated from this attack)

We’ll Start the Injections Tomorrow

April 11, 2008

I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the game on Tiva until now.  I was at the Wild game, so couldn’t watch most of game one, live.  I saw the first period at the bar without sound; that’s maddening enough.  Add the goal in the first 1:18 or whatever it was and a marshmallowy soft effort by the boys and I really don’t feel the need to punish myself with the 2nd and 3rd until today.  Besides, my friends at The Universal Cynic, Scarlett Ice and Five for Smiting (see:  blogroll) said about all that is really needed, I would guess. 

Same gig for tonight:  I’ll be at the Wild game and since this one isn’t on Versus, I won’t get the chance to watch any of it until midnight at the earliest.  Of course, they post the out of town scoreboard at the X, so I’ll know the outcome before that.  The same rules apply tonight; if it’s 4-0 Penguins, I probably won’t torture myself until at least tomorrow and at that point, I’ll probably be emptying the medicine cabinet into a tumbler of gin. 

Here’s hoping for a little effort…and a helmet that will fit the A-Train’s coconut….and a healthy scratch of Randy Robitaille…oh, and from what I understand, a body cast for Gary Roberts. (that’s mostly metaphor)

P.S.  Whoever did a search on “did Dany Heatley buy a house in Kelowna”…that was Redden.