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The Rise and Fall of the Ottawa Senators


devilsrule33
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The Ottawa Senators were a model franchise just a few years ago. They had loads of young talent and were playing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Since starting 15-2 last year, the Sens have recorded just 91 points 96 games. They barely made it into the playoffs last year, and when they did, they were quickly dismissed by the Penguins in 4 games. In that time where the Senators collected 91 points, the Leafs have recorded 96 points and the Panthers have recorded 102 points. There are only about 3-4 teams that have been worse than the Senators

In 2006, the Senators led the league with 314 goals, which translates into an amazing 3.80 goals per game. Just a few years later, the Sens are dead last in the league in goals, averaging a putrid 2.28 goals per game.

Can this team be fixed, or have they become the new version of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Sens have a very expensive top line. The main problem is that they can’t play well without each other. Spezza is a great passer, but continues to show he can’t go into the corners and do any of the dirty work. Dany Heatley can finish as well as anyone, but he is one of the slower players in the league and can not create for himself at all. You can’t pay guys 7.5 million if they can’t create for themselves or create for others. The top line right now doesn’t consist of 3 all-stars. This is a line of 3 players who can only be successful when playing together, and that can be shutdown quite easily.

Spezza, Healtey, and Alfredsson are all locked up until 2013, with a cap hit of just under 20 million combined. The scary part is Alfredsson is already showing signs of decline a year before his brand new contract kicks in. For all we know, he might be finished by 2010.

Mike Fisher just signed a brand new contract before the season started and has a cap hit of 4.2 million. Management believed he could be a 30 goal scorer and 70 point guy, yet in 25 games he has the same amount of goals as Mike Rupp and less points than Colin White.

Antoine Vermette also signed a new contract paying him just under 3 million a season. He was another player management felt was ready to become a huge star and a key part of their future. But like Fisher, he has been a colossal failure. Vermette has just 3 goals and 2 assists.

Chris Kelly was considered a top penalty killer by many, and a young talent, and is making just over 2 million for the next 4 years. He has 6 points so far this year, and his job can easily be done by any of the young rookies making the league minimum.

The Senators secondary scoring is literally non-existent. After the big 3, Nick Foligno leads the team in goals with 4, and Fisher leads the rest of the forwards in points with 9. They have just 24 goals scored by forwards other than the “big 3” When the “big 3” doesn’t score, which is quite often I might add, the Sens have zero chance of winning.

What is worse is that the defense can generate no offense at all. Gone are players like Chara, Redden, Corvo, Preissing and Meszaros. The team just can’t get anything from Phillips, Volchenkov and Smith.

What once was a good drafting team under Marshall Johnston now has barely any prospects that are ready to come in and help this team at all.

So finally, what does Owner Eugene Melnyk do? Is it time to fire Murray. He rewarded players who seemingly deserved to be rewarded, and amazingly almost everyone of them have been complete busts. Should the team fire Craig Hartsburg? They already had no success with Paddock or Murray last year. And Hartsburg does deserve some credit for putting in a pretty good defensive system. For the first time in franchise history goaltending has been a complete non issue, and the defense has played well in their own zone.

Can this team be get better? Can guys like Fisher or Vermette wake up. Are the Heatley and Spezza contracts cap killers? Or has the mediocre play over the past 90 games shown, that this team as it is currently built is finished.

Edited by devilsrule33
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The Ottawa Senators were a model franchise just a few years ago. They had loads of young talent and were playing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Since starting 15-2 last year, the Sens have recorded just 91 points 96 games. They barely made it into the playoffs last year, and when they did, they were quickly dismissed by the Penguins in 4 games. In that time where the Senators collected 91 points, the Leafs have recorded 96 points and the Panthers have recorded 102 points. There are only about 3-4 teams that have been worse than the Senators

In 2006, the Senators led the league with 314 goals, which translates into an amazing 3.80 goals per game. Just a few years later, the Sens now are last in the league in goals, averaging a putrid 2.28 goals per game.

That 3.8 figure is bloated, as are many other numbers from that season...at the beginning of the '05-'06 season, numbers both individual and team were inflated due to almost ANYTHING resembling physical play leading to power plays. I think that Ottawa team was averaging near 5 GPG over the first quarter of the season.

Can this team be fixed, or have they become the new version of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Sens have a very expensive top line. The main problem is that they can

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The Ottawa Senators were a model franchise just a few years ago. They had loads of young talent and were playing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Since starting 15-2 last year, the Sens have recorded just 91 points 96 games. They barely made it into the playoffs last year, and when they did, they were quickly dismissed by the Penguins in 4 games. In that time where the Senators collected 91 points, the Leafs have recorded 96 points and the Panthers have recorded 102 points. There are only about 3-4 teams that have been worse than the Senators

In 2006, the Senators led the league with 314 goals, which translates into an amazing 3.80 goals per game. Just a few years later, the Sens now are last in the league in goals, averaging a putrid 2.28 goals per game.

Can this team be fixed, or have they become the new version of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Sens have a very expensive top line. The main problem is that they can

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Ottawa's reality is that, yes, they are falling apart. Almost overnight, they went from a deep, Stanley Cup-contending juggernaut to a one-line wonder. Those 3 (and Filip Kuba) are putting up good numbers, but then there's nothing in the cupboard.

The question isn't if they should trade their few valuable assets, but when? And for what?

I find it laughable that so many of the prognosticators predicted them in the playoffs this past preseason. The roster, from the goaltending on out, is really weak. There's no way there are 7 teams in the Eastern Conference worse than Ottawa. They will end up as a bottom feeder this season, in line with Toronto, and if they don't make some shrewd moves with Spezza and Heatley (Alfredsson, in my mind, is untrade-able for a number of reasons, based on what he means to the team, and his cap hit), they will be the Canadian version of the Atlanta Thrashers. Directionless, with a star player or two, and nothing more.

I think people were still looking at the NHL record 15-2 start. If you looked at the last 67 games, they were a bottom 5 team. But it wasn''t like specific caused it. It was the exact same team, and it continued into this season.

Ray Emery must be laughing. The media took the easy wya out and ganged up on him, blaming him for all the teams problems, which was a complete joke.

I think that Healtey deal is a killer. Just seeing him play on the odd time, he needs Spezza, yet Spezza needs him. But Healtey, for an elite goal scorer and a back-toback 50 goal guy, can create like the rest of them. And that is how they are different than the Thrashers. Kovalchuk and Hossa could score 40-50 goals by themselves.

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I think this is probably one of the biggest reasons for the demise of this franchise.

I probably have a simplistic way of looking at it, but the Senators were so good for so long, but yet they were disappointing in the playoffs. Then they tried to change their roster to get 'tougher' etc etc and now that has not really worked out, AND the offensive prowess they had at one time simply does not exist to overcome their flaws in net as well.

If it were my decision running the Ottawa Sens, I would blow it up and start over.

I agree, look at the quality D men they have lost over the past few seasons. None of their younger talent has panned out.

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The Senators can't 'blow it up'. In a salary capped league, you can't just trade guys away for prospects, especially if they are on long-term deals. Almost all of these contracts are unmovable except for contracts like them, which solves very little.

For as much as people criticize Lou Lamoriello for signing Elias, Langenbrunner, Zubrus, etc. long-term, he has not screwed things up the way Ottawa has.

I don't know what I'd do. Spezza has been soft from the moment he stepped into the league - I still remember his lack of urgency during the 03 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. I don't think you can find a team to deal for him. You eat this season, hope to get a Tavares-level player in the draft, then hopefully Spezza or Heatley rehabilitates their image and you find a home for one of them. That is just so unlikely with teams' cap situations, though - if the salary cap were moving upwards again you could find one of them.

I think all of these players will be better in the future - it's impossible for them not to be at least somewhat better. Still, this says something about transition defense and how goal scoring environments build on one another.

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You can't blow up anythign and start over.

It's the organization. What/who is causing the bad Karma? The Leafs have had their special brand of bad karma that the fans know well - it's a geographic karma :evil: Also it's an antiquated system errr I mean traditional uhh old time hockey... it's just the leafs and they won't change nor do they need to with their ticket sales.

What's the source of Ottawa's crappy choking mindset? Is it just geographic? I dont think switching players will make a difference - just like with the Devils - you've got players or can't get any dream team going anyhow so why waste time putting the focus there... to me the Sens have players... it's the mindset that has always been the problem.

So is there a person? What's the philosophy of the team? What is the system or is there none?

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I was thinking the same thing. I smell copywrite infringement vs. a very good journalism student

He probably wrote it. If he copied it you could probably try googling phrases and if you find them elsewhere by someone else then its a copy but I doubt it.

Oh and it's copyRIGHT. :P

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The Senators can't 'blow it up'. In a salary capped league, you can't just trade guys away for prospects, especially if they are on long-term deals. Almost all of these contracts are unmovable except for contracts like them, which solves very little.

For as much as people criticize Lou Lamoriello for signing Elias, Langenbrunner, Zubrus, etc. long-term, he has not screwed things up the way Ottawa has.

I don't know what I'd do. Spezza has been soft from the moment he stepped into the league - I still remember his lack of urgency during the 03 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. I don't think you can find a team to deal for him. You eat this season, hope to get a Tavares-level player in the draft, then hopefully Spezza or Heatley rehabilitates their image and you find a home for one of them. That is just so unlikely with teams' cap situations, though - if the salary cap were moving upwards again you could find one of them.

I think all of these players will be better in the future - it's impossible for them not to be at least somewhat better. Still, this says something about transition defense and how goal scoring environments build on one another.

The Sens will probably miss out on any top pick, kind of like the Leafs have in the past few years. They'll probably get a pick in the 7-11 range.

You can't blow up a team, but I think Spezza still has a lot of value. Wouldn't the Blue Jackets love to have a guy like that to play with Nash? The reat of the contracts are probably too hard to move. Another point is that Melnyk is not an owner who would want to rebuild. He wants this team to be a perennial Cup contender. Attendance in Ottawa is drastically falling. They didn't even sell out a Sens-Leafs game a few weeks back. The moment they start to rebuild, attendance drops even more.

This also might be Murray's last chance (just a guess, but the man is getting into his late 60s) as a general manager. The moment he says the team needs to be rebuilt is the last day he is the general manager of the Ottawa Senators.

For the most part I think you are right about sitting back and waiting. Unfortunately, this team has been struggling for the last 90 games. The fans and media would erupt if nothing was done.

Edited by devilsrule33
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dr does live in Ottawa so he has a knowledge of the Sens most of us (other than Don) don't, he wrote it. One of us could write a similar post about the Rangers or Isles though most of the Ranger articles would probably be biased :lol:

Ottawa is at a bit of a crossroads, and it's probably hard to blow up the team with some of the albatrosses they have as contracts as Tri alluded to. They are getting to be like the Tampa Bay Lightning only with better goaltending and no Dan Boyle on the blueline.

Edited by Hasan4978
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He probably wrote it. If he copied it you could probably try googling phrases and if you find them elsewhere by someone else then its a copy but I doubt it.

Oh and it's copyRIGHT. :P

Maybe I'll try the google (in my best George Bush accent).

Cut it out or I'll start pointing out women I don't like in 'after hours'.

OK, I like them all, but dammit you'll make a grammar mistake eventually... then I pounce.

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You can't blow up a team, but I think Spezza still has a lot of value. Wouldn't the Blue Jackets love to have a guy like that to play with Nash?

Sure - but until 2014/15? That's how long Spezza's contract goes. Nash, OTOH, is UFA after 2009-10. I mean, I could see a Spezza for Gomez-Del Zotto swap or something like that if the Rangers felt they had to gamble, but you've got to receive a similarly bad contract back, that's how a capped environment works. With the economic uncertainty of the next few years, it's going to be difficult for a team to take on a deal like that not knowing where the cap is going in 2010-11 (if it recedes several million dollars, i don't know what teams are going to do either).

For the most part I think you are right about sitting back and waiting. Unfortunately, this team has been struggling for the last 90 games. The fans and media would erupt if nothing was done.

Nothing can be done. You can't sell these guys at low ebb and none of them are having a good season. Ottawa needs to, like New Jersey, get out there and start signing free agents from other leagues. New Jersey would be in a pretty bad way if they didn't have guys like Oduya and Clarkson around.

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Nothing can be done. You can't sell these guys at low ebb and none of them are having a good season. Ottawa needs to, like New Jersey, get out there and start signing free agents from other leagues. New Jersey would be in a pretty bad way if they didn't have guys like Oduya and Clarkson around.

Very good point. You can add the signings of Rafalski, and perhaps Salmela to that list. I don't care about Clarkson so much, but finding guys like Rafalski and Oduya from other countries have been huge for this team. The Devils have not been able to draft a puck-moving defenseman besides Martin in years. And the Sens desperately need a puck-moving defenseman.

An interesting point I have been hearing lately is that Sens fans are wishing the team never had the opportunity promote Murray to GM in the first place. They did have Peter Chiarelli, but decided to keep Muckler, only to fire him a year later. Chiarelli took the open job in Boston and quickly signed a way Chara, picked up Savard, drafted Lucic and Kessel, and traded for Wideman among other impressive moves.

Some could argue that they never should have forced Marshall Johnston out in the first place to bring in a real "winner" in John Muckler. Last time I checked Johnston drafted Hossa, Neil, Fisher, Havlat, Kelly, Emery, Vermette, Volchenkov and Spezza. Since then, the Sens have drafted Foligno, and Meszaros.

Edited by devilsrule33
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Well here is the latest....and Hartsburg is actually getting it.

The Sens are breaking up the"big" 3 for Friday's game against the Devils.

What Hartsburg said...and I am paraphrasing..."I don't like to get into money, but these guys are getting a ton of money, and when you get paid that money, you should be able to make other players around you better, and shouldn't have to rely on each other."

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Very good point. You can add the signings of Rafalski, and perhaps Salmela to that list. I don't care about Clarkson so much, but finding guys like Rafalski and Oduya from other countries have been huge for this team. The Devils have not been able to draft a puck-moving defenseman besides Martin in years. And the Sens desperately need a puck-moving defenseman.

An interesting point I have been hearing lately is that Sens fans are wishing the team never had the opportunity promote Murray to GM in the first place. They did have Peter Chiarelli, but decided to keep Muckler, only to fire him a year later. Chiarelli took the open job in Boston and quickly signed a way Chara, picked up Savard, drafted Lucic and Kessel, and traded for Wideman among other impressive moves.

Some could argue that they never should have forced Marshall Johnston out in the first place to bring in a real "winner" in John Muckler. Last time I checked Johnston drafted Hossa, Neil, Fisher, Havlat, Kelly, Emery, Vermette, Volchenkov and Spezza. Since then, the Sens have drafted Foligno, and Meszaros.

many of those players were drafted during lean years where ottawa was getting top picks. when they started becoming successful, they had less high picks to get good players. as for boston's success, ottawa couldn't give chara a max contract or sign savard (not taking away that they were good moves though) and kessel was a top pick because boston was bad the year before. and keep in mind that before this year, he was going to be dealt as an underachiever. lucic looks like a great pick (even though it was the 2nd round - to date, nobody else from that draft outside the top 10 has done anything. that's not to crap on chiarelli - just to point out that he was given a good starting point to make moves.

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many of those players were drafted during lean years where ottawa was getting top picks. when they started becoming successful, they had less high picks to get good players. as for boston's success, ottawa couldn't give chara a max contract or sign savard (not taking away that they were good moves though) and kessel was a top pick because boston was bad the year before. and keep in mind that before this year, he was going to be dealt as an underachiever. lucic looks like a great pick (even though it was the 2nd round - to date, nobody else from that draft outside the top 10 has done anything. that's not to crap on chiarelli - just to point out that he was given a good starting point to make moves.

Ottawa had the choice of either Redden or Chara. They picked Chara.

I am not questioning the good starting point Chiarelli had. He just made some very good moves, and I am not even saying that if he was in Ottawa he could have made those moves either, because obviously that was not the case (Kessel being a top 5-10 pick and cap room to sign Savard).

You are not giving Johnston enough credit though. He found Emery in the 4th round. He got Havlat 26th overall, Fisher and Vermette in the mid second round, Volchenkov in the mid-to-late in the first round. He found Neil in the 6th round, Arvedsson in the 5th and Rachunek in the 9th.

It really had nothing to do with high picks at all. The only high pick he had was Spezza that was given to him along with Chara in a trade for Yashin. Pretty much theft for a player the team wanted gone anyway.

Edited by devilsrule33
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Johnston did well (and worked under Lou). Volchenkov was in the 1st round of 2000 though.

I don't think it was as simple as Redden vs. Chara. They would've had to pay more money to Chara and guarantee him several years. Had they done that, they would've lost one of the big 3 somewhere down the line.

Anyway, Ottawa's one of those teams for whom it's amazing they went through this run without a Stanley Cup. They couldn't beat the Leafs and couldn't seem to find a solid goaltender, two problems it shouldn't've been that hard to fix.

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I think that Ottawa's decline is really a product of it's own success. That roster that they had 5 years ago was unreal, and many of those players are now either superstars or key players on other teams. That roster was built through getting high picks in the draft as well as the incompetence of the Islanders. Now, in the post-lockout NHL, they haven't been able to keep all those players, and the window has closed for them. Unlike Detroit, they haven't gone and found new talent to replace the old. Detroit doesn't miss Sergei Fedorov, but Ottawa sure misses Martin Havlat.

I think their big issue was goaltending. That was the only part of that roster that wasn't solid. If they had a world class netminder in '03, things would have been really interesting...

edit: I really like this thread...we should do one's on other franchises (Islander's, Blues, Lightning, etc.)

Edited by NJTommo44
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My bad. I meant to put first round.

I posted an interview that was done with Kirk Muller, and he mentioned Johnston doing a greta job building the Devils up in the mid-to-late 80s. He doesn't get enough credit.

As for the Sens not winning the Cup...2003 was their year. Re-watching all the highlights that a poster here put up on YouTube really showed me how lucky the Devils were. Lalime let in bad goal after bad goal. He couldn't stop anything stick side. It's funny because Lalime has the lowest GAA in the playoffs of any goalie who has played 50 games in the playoffs. The Devils scored 7-8 goals that they had no business scoring in that series.

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