Feb 022009
 

Let me start off by saying that I wasn’t a huge fan of the Hartsburg hiring as I don’t think Hartsburg had done anything at the NHL level to show that he is a true top level coach, something that the Senators definititely should have been looking for. But he was available and relatively inexpensive and maybe that is why Murray hired him. But this is seemingly Murray’s second bad coach hiring after John Paddock failed a season ago and was fired less than 12 months ago.

But Murray’s bad decisions go beyond coaching. Some of his player personnel decision have been poor as well, particularly when it comes to his defense. Bryan Murray took over for John Muckler just after the Senators lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup final. That Cup Final team defense consisted of:

Wade Redden
Joe Corvo
Tom Preissing
Andrej Meszaros
Anton Volchenkov
Chris Phillips

That was a pretty solid defense group with a mix of offensive and defensive defensemen. This years defense crew consists of:

Filip Kuba
Alexandre Picard
Chris Phillips
Anton Volchenkov
Jason Smith
Brian Lee
Brendan Bell

One season ago Jason Smith was seeing his ice time diminish in Philadelphia (yet he earned a sizable contract in Ottawa), Picard couldn’t play as a regular in Tampa last year, Bell couldn’t make the Phoenix Coyotes and Brian Lee played mostly in the AHL. And to top it off, Chris Phillips has started to look old and slow this year and sports a teams worse +/- at -20. To make matters worse, Joe Corvo is playing quite well in Carolina and Mike Commodore, who Murray acquired for Corvo and then let go as a UFA, is playing his best hockey ever in Columbus.

Prior to the recent collapse of the team on the ice, the Senators were primarily an offensive oriented team who utilized an excellent transition game and power play to dominate opponents. They would pressure the opposition with speed and quickness, force turnovers, and then mount a quick counter attack. But with much less speed and skill on the back end, that quick counter attack game plan fails before it can even get started.

Craig Hartsburg attempted to convert the Senators into more of a defensive oriented team and to some extent he succeeded as the Senators have given up far fewer goals this year than last, but the problem has been that the defensive focus combined with the lack of skill on the back end means they just can’t score enough goals.

In under a calendar year the Senators have fired John Paddock, seen Bryan Murray take over as interim coach, replaced Murray with Hartsburg and have now fired Hartsburg. That is three coaches, and three coaching failures, in under a calendar year. When will the time come when owner Eugene Melnyk realizes that the problem isn’t coaching but rather player personnel and the management group that brings in that player personnel. But maybe he is still in denial.

  55 Responses to “Hartsburg gets axed for Murray's failures”

  1.  

    Franchise in turmoil for sure. Melnyk quickly looks like a fool, and will look even more foolish when Murray is canned at the end of the year. Probably the best thing for the Senators. I suspect there are some real personnel issues behind the scenes and things will be “blown up”. However, the Sens have a lot of talent over there, so maybe a coach that brings in a better system adapted to the Sens strengths will have more success. I have no idea who Cory Cluston (sp?) is but can’t get much worse I guess.

  2.  

    This really come as no surprise, despite Melnyk and Murray’s constant denials. Like you, David, I didn’t like the Hartsburg hiring in the first place and it rarely, if ever, works out when a coach tries to implement a more defensive system when the players on the roster clearly are more offensively-minded. It’s like training Jason Spezza on defense all the time despite knowing that his mind and game will always be on the offensive side of the puck. It just doesn’t work like that. The Sens (and I must say the Canucks, to a lesser extent) are training a cat to do dog tricks.

    I hope John Tortorella gets hired – big fan and I think he can really make the Sens be accountable. No doubt Murray is at fault here as well though, clearly the implementation of a more defensive team was his doing, otherwise Hartsburgh would not have been hired.

  3.  

    Never mind, Murray decides to promote in-house again with Cory Clouston whose had a fairly good track record in the AHL and an outstanding one in the WHL.

  4.  

    The talk is that Clouston is a real hard nosed coach whose players generally don’t like very much but respect playing for, possibly not unlike Tortorella or a Mike Keenan from several years ago. From the press conference it seems that Murray is bringing in a real hard nosed coach to evaluate which players are up to the task and which will get shipped out at the trade deadline.

  5.  

    Hopefully Clouston can bring a different approach to these players. Attitude problem must be dealt with. If not some changes are coming at deadline.

  6.  

    i think you nailed it with the changes on defense. they had a blueline built beautifully for the “new” nhl, and turned it into something that more closely resembles something the maple leafs would put on the ice.

    by the way, i too thought mike fisher was making suicidal money, but i see that his cap hit is actually 4.2M… not too bad.

    i think murray needs to go, and more importantly, (warning, inbound sarcasm) they need to get back to the original jerseys… none of this cartoony 3D garbage.

  7.  

    David, I often disagree with your blue view, but in this case, your post isn’t just slanted its disgraceful. Let’s look at the REAL story behind the defense;
    1. Redden moved as a UFA for a 6yr, 39M deal, who in their right mind would match that abysmal albatross of a deal?
    2. For Mesz (who signed a 6 yr, 24M deal) has 15 pts, compared to Kuba and Picard, combined for 39 pts, and earning 200k less! Also, they received a 1st rnd pick!
    3. Corvo is, and has been available all season, with no takers…
    4. Preissing is totally available, and went from a #6 D-man at <1M/yr to a 4 yr/11M deal, has 7 pts, and is averaging less then 17 minutes a game on a non play-off team! BTW, he’s been a healthy scratch for 8 of the teams last 9 games, damn, if only Murray had signed him!
    Has he replaced all of them, nope, but, it would also appear that the Sens made them the stars, not the other way around.
    Hartsburg had no system whatsoever. It was painful to watch, and Murray is at fault for that decision, but I for one would rather have him fix it, then hide behind it.
    Murray, in only 2 drafts, has also totally restocked what was previously a completely bare prospect cupboard.
    As for slamming all of the deals he did sign, how did Marleau play under Wilson? Or Savard in ATL? Or Thorton in Boston? Or
    You really believe it’s all attributed to losing defensemen that are struggling on their new teams? You really think all of the offensive players are in the dumper at the same time, and it’s not the coach? Come on, that’s absolute bullshit.

  8.  

    One thing you need to remember is that the falling apart of the Senators didn’t occur this season under Hartsburg, it only continued. Ottawa, after the first 17 games of last season, was one of the worst teams in the NHL and not significantly better than they have been this year.

    It is nice that you enjoy slamming the ex-Sens defensemen but you fail to realize, as bad as you think they were, they are significantly better than the current defense crew. In particular in terms of passing, skating, and overall skill level.

    Kuba has been good this year but most of his points have come on the PP. He only has 11 even strength points which is the same as Meszaros and Redden and 2 more than Corvo. But the problem isn’t Kuba, but rather that there aren’t 3 Kuba’s on this team, like the team that went to the Stanley Cup.

    Sure, Murray was probably right in letting Preissing, Redden and Meszaros go considering the contracts that they demanded and signed, but he did nothing to replace them. Instead he replaced them with has beens (Richardson, Smith) and never will be’s (Picard) and look like first round pick flops (Lee).

    Look, I don’t consider Hartsburg a good coach and I didn’t think he and his questionable track record was the right pick for the Senators. They should have either picked a proven veteren or taken a gamble on a top coaching prospect like DeBoer (who was rumoured to be on the short list) instead of a relatively unsuccessful retread. But again, this problem didn’t arise under Hartsburg. There were significant stretches of last season where the team didn’t score, including the big 3. This is a problem that goes well beyond the coach.

    As for the prospects of the Senators, that probably deserves a post of its own, but they are hardly spectacular. Winchester, Foligno, Lee, look like third liners/third pairing defensemen at best and there isn’t a lot of top level talent ready to make the jump. It is a farm system that is average at best.

  9.  

    Interesting how “evaluate” is a word that’s being tossed around during the conference. When a new coach is hired and you talk “evaluation,” it almost sounds as if the Sens have given up on their season and the rest of the year will be an audition to see who gets to stay and who wants to go. I sense a white flag waving. I can’t see Clouston turning this team around a la Bruce Boudreau.

  10.  

    Oh, they have definitely given up on the season as far as the playoffs are concerned. I took the term evaluate as meaning lets evaluate the players for the next month (up to the trade deadline) and see who they can/should trade and who they should keep. Any players that do not positively respond to Clouston will definitely be on the trading block. I believe the only guy on this team that should feel secure is Alfredsson (and I suppose Heatley, Fisher and Phillips who have NTC but they may be asked to waive them).

    As far as Clouston is concerned, he has no guarantees for next season either so he will be evaluated as well. And I think Melnyk will be evaluating all of this so he can make a decision on Bryan Murray come seasons end. If Melnyk doesn’t see any progress, either in terms of wins and losses, or in terms of getting rid of under performing players and bringing in some new talent, Murray’s time in Ottawa may very well come to an end sometime in April or May.

  11.  

    Who was he supposed to replace them with? Campbell at 8 yrs x 7.143M/yr?
    Steit at 5/20.5M?
    Because that was it available, who have more points then Kuba. Lets debunk this whole theory that he should have signed a “puck moving” dman…because he did, Kuba. No doubt he was counting on Lee continueing his progress from the previous season, but was this Lees fault, or Hartsburgs? You really think it’s a coincidence it’s his AHL coach that is being promoted? I don’t.
    They had Mesz and Redden, and Corvo, after 17 games. So defense is not the whole issue. The coach was fired. Unfortunately, his replacement has not proven to have been any better.
    How can you argue on one hand you disliked Hartsburg, but, on the next, claim it wasn’t his fault? Does that not seem duplicitous?
    David, how many teams have 3 defensemen with more then 24 pts? 2, Det. and Edm. So what was your point again?
    Only 1 of the prospects you listed were brought in by Murray (Winchester), and he did not require a draft pick. So what was your point again?
    The fact the farm system looks average (at best) is a credit to Murray, as before this season, it was abysmal. So what was your point again?
    Last season Heatley went pointless for 4 games last season…once. Spezza went pointless for 3 games…once. Alfie went pointless for 3 games…once. What was your point again?
    When were these “significant stretches of last season where the team didn’t score,”? Feel free to back that up. The fact is, you can’t, and I know that, unless you consider 2 3 game stretches with GF of 1 “significant stretched”.

  12.  

    Look, the Senators have sucked big time for the the majority of 2 seasons now. They haven’t just been mediocre, they have been a bottom 5 team in the NHL, if not bottom 3, and that under 3 coaches. So, either the Senators have had 3 bad coaches or the Senators have had a bad group of players. Either way, the GM is to blame since he is in charge of both.

    Only 1 of the prospects you listed were brought in by Murray (Winchester), and he did not require a draft pick. So what was your point again?

    My point is that the Senators don’t have much in terms of young talent in the NHL or ready to make the jump to the NHL. The Senators system is not flush with talent, Murray drafted or otherwise.

    Because that was it available, who have more points then Kuba. Lets debunk this whole theory that he should have signed a “puck moving” dman…because he did, Kuba.

    Yup, lose four, bring in one. That is a fair offset. Oh, and that one will likely be leaving as a UFA in the off season if he doesn’t get traded at the deadline.

    Who was he supposed to replace them with? Campbell at 8 yrs x 7.143M/yr?
    Steit at 5/20.5M?

    He could have, but chose not too. He could have tried to trade for one as well like the Oilers did for Visnovsky or the Sharks did for Boyle, but he chose not to.

    Intead, he chose to give $2.7 million to an aging Jason Smith. He chose to give $2.125 million to offensively challenged Chris Kelly. He chose to give $4.2 million to an injury prone Mike Fisher. He chose to give big contracts to Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson. He chose not to seek out a prime time goalie. Like it or not, the majority of this team has signed contracts within the past 2 seasons under Bryan Murray so this is the team that Murray built and for the most part it has been a failure.

  13.  

    David,
    Other GM’s would not have given those contracts to Alfie, Spezza and Fisher? You honestly want to defend that view? Good luck with that.
    As for Kelly and Vermette, you knew they would struggle this year like they have? You knew to dismiss their entire careers thus far? You disagree that they, based upon their past performance, were reasonably compensated? Yeah right, seems like opportunistic hind sight GM’ing to me, but whatever.
    You really think the Sens prospect situation is status quo to when Murray took over? You do realize his highest pick in those 2 years was a #15 right? And yet he has drafted the WJC best defenseman, a WJC forward, a team Canada WJ invitee, and a player who has already been called up to the NHL. Seems pretty good to me, find another GM who has done as much with a similar draft position in the last 2 drafts, otherwise, you have no point.
    How are those 4 d that they lost doing? Terrible, so what, now the team is bad, AND the players they lost are bad, so it’s the loss of those players? How does this make any sense? It doesn’t. Your theory is akin to pounding a square peg into a round hole. 3 super stars suddenly can’t score, but it’s not the coach/system…seriously, they just quit? Or they forgot how to play? Or they quit being lucky? Come on, get real.
    He chose not to sign Campbell, and at 8 yrs, that was the right choice. See how good that deal looks in 2 years.
    Boyle was TRADED out of his conference, but Murray was trying to land him, do you really think they wanted to move him in their conference?
    What prime time goalie was he supposed to land? Huet for 4yrs, 5.625 per? Theodore at 2 yrs/4.5 per? That’s all there was available. You would match/better those deals?
    You make it seem like there were a tonne of options, like it’s so easy to just work around having 0 prospects, land a few UFA’s, make some trades and voila, all is well again. As a Leaf fan, you of all people should know better. How have you lasted so long? With this degree of criticism of the Sens, you must despise your team right…?
    Look, bash away, whatever, I know it’s baseless (and so do you, or you should), but, if the Sens return to form, we’ll see who’s bashing.

  14.  

    To be clear David, there is no doubt this team is in need of improved offensive defensemen. I do not believe there has been a good option available to Murray in rectifying this however. I also believe Hartsburg has done a poor job mitigating for the lacking of this skill set.

  15.  

    I think you are completely missing the point by focusing in on details. This is Murray’s team, and it has failed miserably. Blame the coach, blame the players, blame whoever you like, but whoever that is, Murray is responsible for them being here.

    I believe that Murray failed in bringing in a quality veteran defenseman and for that he has to be given a failing grade. Murray attempted to address the dressing room issues by getting rid of Emery and bringing in Ruuttu and Smith, but those moves failed. Murray has failed to address the goaltending situation. The players definitely deserve some blame too as many of them are under achieving but Murray has done nothing to adequately address the issue.

  16.  

    Gerald…finally I agree with your POV…when it doesn’t involve a trade rumour, you make perfect sense.

    Plain and simple, the number 1 reason that the Sens suck right now is simply based on how the NHL works in the salary cap era. Look at all of the fringe hockey players that looked like all-stars on the sens 2 or 3 years ago. Look at the point totals, look at the ridiculously good +/- of players like Schubert. The fact is when a team dominates that much (and no team turned mediocre players into very good players better than ottawa for a couple of years) EVERYONE expects to get paid. Even with this problem, the Sens have managed to not overpay almost anyone. Murray correctly squeezed Vermette (who is an overrated player simply because he played on dominant Ottawa offenses for a few years) and let Meszaros go (though he didn’t get much in retun) and he has not looked good since his rookie year with Chara.

    Gerald, you are completely correct that the Sens made all these guys look like stars, not the other way around. However, as I’m sure u agree, the talent gets diluted every year (even though the Sens are typically right near the cap) and they haven’t had the high draft picks to replenish the players (though they won’t necessarily have the money to resign these players because their payroll is so top heavy).

    Blaming Murray for everything is far too simplistic. He certainly hasn’t done an excellent job, but if the rumours are true that Melnyk essentially made sure that Alfie retired as a Sen, then he deserves quite a bit of blame as well. It makes ZERO sense to spend 20 million for the big line even during the years they score 130 goals or whatever. There is no money to upgrade the defense or goaltending.

    One point I do disagree on with u Gerald is the fact that signing Fisher was a good move. I agree that someone would have given him that contract, but he is basically a tweener (i.e. not really a 2nd line centre but too good to be a typical 3rd line centre) and once the offense dries up a little, it is very hard to move a one-way player.

    The Sens have simply tried to keep as much of their core as is financially possible every year, but they never added to it and the talent always got diluted – I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I’m sure if one were to look at the amount of money being paid to all of the players that were on the Sens during Chara’s last year it would be over $80 million. The Sens did make players look a lot better than they were, but the fact that they have been so complacent to keep their “core” (though Fisher should never be considered a core player on a quality team) much like Tbay and Carolina after their cup wins is the reason they aren’t winning now. I don’t necessarily think Murray has done a brutal job, but firing him if he doesn’t make the team respectable by this time next year shouldn’t be a surprise…

    On Hartsburg…he certainly deserves some blame, though it is hard to quantify how much…but when Spezza, Heatley, Alfie, Vermette and Fisher are playing this poorly someone has to take the blame – the Sens are by no means a contender anymore, but they should at least have the talent to fight for a playoff spot…

  17.  

    David, the only thing that supports your view is the theory that, as GM, ultimately he is responsible. Unfortunately, that is silly. How is he responsible for who is available via trade, and at what value? How is he responsible for who is available via FA, and at what cost? How is he responsible for a previous GM’s leaving the cupboard bare? Only a simpleton would ignore the details, just to make it KISS, and thus have a quick and easy fall guy.
    Ted, to be clear, I said any other GM would have signed Fish as well, and I stand by it. Is it a good deal? Not this year, and maybe never, but, if the team recovers, maybe it will be.
    As for keeping the core, absolutely, because if they didn’t, they would have nothing, as they had no prospects. Theoretically signing a solid core allows a team to only need to find the much more readily available role players. However, not having a core O Dman, or goaltender (yet, hopefully) is a major issue, and may require a re-shuffling of the core in order to do so.
    A key difference between OTT and TBL/CAR is that they have no self imposed cap, making their core effectively eat up a smaller percentage of the available payroll, even if they pay them as much. However as the cap shrinks, so does this advantage

  18.  

    Gerald – I completely disagree that “every other GM” would have kept Fisher – obviously there is no way to prove either of our POVs, but he has done nothing special in a damn good situation in Ottawa to warrant that contract. Some GM would have given it to him, maybe a handful, but certainly not every GM. If he performs at the 20-25 goal 40-50 pt pace he is still not worth that deal and there is no reason to believe he will be better than that, though it is obviously within the realm of possibility. In short, he was signed to that deal based on the fact that Murray thought he had the upside to be a solid 2nd line centre. I disagreed with that POV when the contract was signed and I still disagree with it, though Fisher should be better than this.

    Again, I want to make it 100% clear that I am not saying they should have let their entire core go, but having 3 core forwards and a bunch of replacable mediocre NHL players is not the way to build a successful team. Between BM and EM, this is what Ottawa has done.

    While TBL and CAR have a self-imposed cap, TB was spending fairly close to the cap the last few years with their big 3 of Richards/Lecavalier/St Louis, but they were lucky enough to have Dan Boyle at a well below market price for a few years. Basically, I am no GM and fully concede that every GM has a greater hockey acumen than myself. However, simply in philosophy, cap management does not take someone who understands hockey to figure out. You don’t seem to understand it and suggest that spending over $30 mill on Spezza, Heatley, Alfie, Fisher and Bouwmeester is the way to get the best return on investment. As far as I can tell, you also seem to belive that tying up $20 mill on one line is another good way to allot funds. To me, this is completely and utterley ridiculously stupid.

    Ottawa needs to shake up their core and not be so top heavy with their contracts. This is even MORE important than developing better players – lets face it, if Ottawa is a bottom feeder for a few years, they should presumably start to produce better young talent. But they won’t be able to afford it if the cap is stagnant or decreases while spending $24 mill on their “core 4″…

  19.  

    Ted, TBL fairly close to the cap? They’ve been 4-5 million below the cap, that’s a big number.
    As for Fisher, you have to look beyond the score sheet. He was paid that to bring an edgy game, leadership, 2 way play, and a strong work ethic.
    Players are not just points, and that’s why guys like Langkow, Brind’Amour, Umberger, Morrow, Demitra, Boyes, Michalek, Hartnell, Rolston, Dumont, Legwand, Stoll, Horcoff.
    These are all players making similar money, with similar roles. If you think Fisher wouldhave made less on another team, I think your using revisionist history. I can point to almost every other NHL team with a Fisher type player, making the same type of money, and that is why I feel comfortable in my statement, and entirely believe yours to be wrong.
    Yes Ottawa needs to develop younger players, and under Murray they now are (E. Karlsson, Peterson, z. Smith, Weircoch, Winchester). When the core was signed, Lee was the only prospect of note, and even he was seriously on the bubble in his development.
    Murray had two choices. Immediately after making a run to the Cup he could;
    a) trade the entire core (Fisher, Emery, Heatley, Spezza) for picks and prospects (as they had no prospects of their own, at all).
    or
    b) Sign them.
    No GM would have selected option a…ZERO.
    It’s all well and good to look back, and base the entire term of their deals on this season, but it is also entirely hindsight, and entirely dismissing what may yet happen in the future.
    Only a fool would value their assets in a short term (as of yet) worst case scenario, IMO.

  20.  

    Ted Bama’s right, Gerald, TB has been up against the cap the past couple years. Why do you think they dealt Richards and Boyle?

    Anyway, the way I see it, Murray has until training camp next year to really fix this team. The free agent pool this year isn’t all that great (but still better than last year’s) and that couple be a great time to really shop Spezza or Heatley. He needs to recognize the problem that he can’t have $24m tied up with 4 players. Jay Feaster recognized that early when he attempted to re-sign Boyle and dealt Richards. Murray’s been sitting on his hands for the past two years. He needs to make some changes, that’s a no-brainer.

    The only thing that gets me about Murray are his coach hirings and the Meszaros trade. That trade made absolutely no sense to me. Murray claims that he was unable to sign Meszaros, but the package he got back in return was almost equivalent to Meszaros’ cap hit (3.8 to 4). That trade was perplexing – as the Sens’ potential #1 PP QB Murray sure seemed pretty stingy. From what I heard, Meszaros’ gripe about the Sens’ offer wasn’t because it wasn’t enough money, but rather because it wasn’t long enough.

    Make no mistake, Murray did nothing, and still hasn’t, to rectify to mediocre defense. And as a side note, they should’ve never let Corvo go. The guy’s as underrated as they come.

  21.  

    Let’s not forget that Ottawa has ~3.4 million in cap space this season so it is not like Murray didn’t have money available (assuming that Melnyk and Murray were telling the truth when they stated they would/could spend to the cap).

    To be fair to Murray, on the Corvo trade, Corvo asked to be traded. Where Murray failed is trading him, and a decent prospect in Eaves, for two soon to be UFA’s (Stillman and Commodore) who he let walk and didn’t adequately replace.

  22.  

    Jason, I was actually being generous, last season TBL had a salary cap hit of 42.781M. This season they’re at 50.083M.
    Hardly spending to the cap.
    The Mesz trade was simple, it came down to the fact that Mesz wanted a tonne of term AND pay, but he had yet to prove himself. In return he got a 1st round pick, and a solid NHL defensive prospect/defenseman, that, on a weaker team, has only one less point then Mesz, for 3.2M less in salary.
    I was never enthralled with Mesz, but he did have potential, unfortunately he wanted the money up front, and it seems that TBL may have gotten burned, but only time will tell.
    I would argue that at least half of the defensive issues are system/coaching related, the remainder is skill based.
    Lets face it, you cannot point to any Dman who has left this team under Murray that has been anything near a legit top 2 defenseman, so to claim these losses as the root of the problem simply doesn’t hold water. If these players were tearing it up, then the theory would be bullet proof, but without that, it falls apart.
    Dave, yes there is cap space, but who were they to sign? Apart from Campbell, there was not one top 2 Dman available to sign, and Campbell required an 8 year deal. I think that deal will be brutal in a few years. I’d sooner have a bad year now, then be handcuffed for 5 years dealing with Campbells contract while the cap shrinks.
    When it comes to trades, it is near impossible to make them, I’m not about to assume there was a better deal available for Corvo just to indict Murray for not having made it. That’s beyond presumptuous, it borders on unbelievable, as the number of trades exemplifies.
    I have no doubt Murray tried to land Campbell, Boyle, Streit and Hainsey. But, obviously he did not. Hindsight being 20/20, and if the present performance continues for the remainder of the contract, only Streit appears to have been a missed opportunity, but that’s a lot of ifs and buts.

  23.  

    Gerald, Tampa would have spend close to $2 million more last year had they not dumped Richards and Prospal at the trade deadline so they were projected to be closer to $45 million.

    As for Meszaros not having proven himself, in his 3 seasons he had 39, 35 an 36 points. Not sure what you consider proving yourself but those are pretty respectable and consistent numbers for a #2/#3 defenseman (considering he is not elite level defensively).

    He has struggled a bit in Tampa, as has most of that team, but has picked it up recently with 7 points in 14 games in January which is pretty close to his career production pace.

    Is he worth $4 million cap hit? Maybe, maybe not. But with that consistency I wouldn’t have worried about giving him a 4 or 5 year deal which I believe was the sticking point for Murray.

  24.  

    Dear Gerald/Bryan Murray apologist – just when u seem to start making some sense, u once again prove your stubbornness – the entire thing with Fisher has nothing to do with him having a “market” contract – no team can afford to pay everyone their “market” value – the point is that teams simply cannot lock up everyone and the Sens have not made the right decisions – they paid Fisher for his “intangibles” and teams should not be doing that to such an extent – he is a $3 mill solid two way player – if he wants more then a team should simply cut bait – I am a canuck fan and I think Ryan Kesler is somewhat comparable to Fisher – If MG gives him 4.2 mill he’d be an idiot – he is a very nice player, but he is replacable. And, quite frankly, if we had a dominant top 6 our team wouldn’t necessarily need a player of Kesler’s ability on the 3rd line – we’d be fine with a checking line like Anaheim’s which provides little offense…

    The point of arguing whether or not Fisher is worth his money is irrelevent – the Sens are the first good team to seriously mismanage their cap and pay for it – pittsburgh may be next, though having 2 of the top 3 forwards in the league is a little different; chicago, boston and san jose will have this problem as well…if they try and lock up their core the way BM has, they will be in trouble…

  25.  

    David, 42/45, did I not say 4-5 million under the cap?
    As fro Mesz, like I said, the fact he is struggling, as is Redden, Preissing, and to some extend Corvo, either it’s an amazing confluence of circumstances, that all fromer and present Senators having played under Murray are suddenly playing below their ability, or, maybe, just maybe, they aren’t nearly as good as the Murray bashers are making them out to be.
    How would Murray look with Redden at 6.5, Mesz at 4, and Preissing at 2.175, Corvo at 3.75, Phillips at 3.5, and Volchy at 2.5?
    That’s 23M on defense…then have them play as they are now…great move that would be.
    It seems the players he’s traded are being over-valued, their contracts dismissed, and the Hartsburg being given a pass because Murray let the defense slide. Or, maybe the players aren’t so good, and Hartsbeg couldn’t get from his current defesive corp enough to replace other mediocre players lost?
    I suspect it’s 50/50 between Hartsy and Murray, but at the end of the day, Murray cannot sign something that sin’t there, but Hartsy has to get 100% from what he has.
    Ted, Ottawa is the first to stumble in the “new” NHL? So how is CAR doing? Or EDM, or ANA, or PIT? Come on, get real.
    Comming from the fan of a team that has not signed a decent offensive roster in a decade, you would think you would value a strong offensive core.

  26.  

    Fine Gerald. You win. Murray is a genius, he has made no mistakes, and he has the Senators on track to win a Stanley Cup.

  27.  

    I’ve attributed 50% of this teams failings this season to Murray.
    I guess it’s either I agree you’re right, or I’m being difficult? Does this normally work for you?
    The defensemen who are gone (ODmen)are playing poorly on their new clubs. Therefore, they are not as good as they are being labeled as. Therefore it was the players remaining on the roster who helped make these missing Dmen look good. As these players remain on the roster, and the Dmen were replaced, but they are not looking as good as the previous group, who is at fault? The remaining players? The coach? The new Dmen?
    I suspect all 3, and that is why I’ve divided the blame accordingly. ]
    Murray hired all of them, he surely deserves some of the blame, but to pin it all on him would be to exonerate those others who deserve responsibility, and would mask the more insidious problems.

  28.  

    Seriously, take your ball and go home in triumph Gerald. Your superior arguments clearly win the day.

    But maybe think about this on the way home:

    – Corvo is doing fine, producing at roughly the same amount of points/game as his recent average.

    – Redden’s production has been declining since ’05. Something happened to him that year, he hasn’t been the same player since.

    – Preissing is a gifted 5/6 defensemen, great skater, good right handed shot.

    – We don’t have the data on Meszaros to make a good evaluation on whether he should be paid at that level. But consider that Fisher is getting more and producing less, also he’s -11 and Meszaros is -5 :/

    What you need to think about is that neither I nor DJ nor TB are questioning BMs decisions not to re-sign these players at the levels their current contracts are paying them. But both the offensive and (to a much greater extent) the defensive depth of the organization has unquestionably gone down in the last two seasons, while the payroll has remained about the same. And BM must shoulder a hefty portion of that responsibility.

  29.  

    Bob is it…? On one hand Reddens game has been declining since 05, but on the other hand the depth has dropped in the last 2 seasons? Duplicitous much?
    The offense has gone down in the last 2 seasons…they were #1 last year…are you just making this up now?
    Ok , we’ll find out soon enough, once Clouston opens up the reigns. I suspect GF will go up, but so will GA. The fact is, we have not had a complete Dman since losing Chara, and that wasn’t Murray.
    none of the missing Dmen have done anything since ;eaving the Sens, but yeah, it’s their loss that has been the problem…bah, damn the reality, it sure is a fun theory…lol!
    Oh, and Preissing has been a healthy scratch for 8 of the last 9 games, and has 5…FIVE! points.

  30.  

    Oh, oh, make that 7 points for Preissing, now I see your point Bob…

  31.  

    Look at the numbers. As of tonight, the Sens are in the top 10 in goals allowed this season, with one of the weaker goaltending duos. They have a solid defense as far as _defense_ goes.

    What has really hurt them is a lack of an _offensive_ defenceman to prime the transition game. That and anemic scoring from forwards 1 through 12 has doomed them to being well in last place in goals *scored*.

    When much of your cap room is devoted to forwards and you’re last in scoring, something is really wrong.

    My solution: keep the defense. Rebuild the offense and sign a top-10 goalie. Give Alfredsson a chance to win the cup somewhere else.

    This club has been losing the mental side of the game for years. On talent alone they should have won the Cup at least twice. Instead, they have a deserved reputation for choking.

    It’s time to bring in a core of players that have poise and know how to bring it when the chips are down. How to do that is another matter. :)

  32.  

    Geralds says “Ted, Ottawa is the first to stumble in the “new” NHL? So how is CAR doing? Or EDM, or ANA, or PIT? Come on, get real”

    What I actually said is “the Sens are the first good team to seriously mismanage their cap and pay for it – pittsburgh may be next, though having 2 of the top 3 forwards in the league is a little different”

    Now it’s not like u’re slightly twisting the logic of my words, u r completely raping it for your own benefit. First off, Edmonton had a fluky cup run, so they do not belong in this conversation. Carolina and Pittsburgh are at least hovering around playoff spots and neither team has all of these players that go explore the FA market and make the kind of money that the Ottawa diaspore has. I already said Pittsburgh may be next because their contracts, like Ottawa’s are top heavy. However, Crosby and Malkin are quite a bit better than Heatley and Spezza so it is not perfectly comparable.

    The fact is that if the Sens, for example, had decided to make their core consist of Spezza, Heatley or Alfie and Chara as opposed to the “big 4″ that costs 24 mill, they’d be a better team and their structure would be more balanced. Chara likely would have taken some kind of discount to stay in Ottawa…perhaps around 6.5 mill – I don’t know how to say this any other way but SPENDING $20 MILL ON ONE LINE IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST WAY THAT PAYROLL HAS BEEN ALLOTTED IN THE NHL RIGHT NOW. Now the fact that every person commenting on this blog agrees with me other than u it seems means nothing to me – it does not prove or disprove my argument…but there is really no point going any further than this because u don’t seem to be able to grasp the concept…I’ll bet BM understand it b4 u and dumps one or 2 of the big 4 and the team improves…

  33.  

    Rape you say Ted? Or maybe you just forget what you wrote… “The Sens did make players look a lot better than they were, but the fact that they have been so complacent to keep their “core” (though Fisher should never be considered a core player on a quality team) much like Tbay and Carolina after their cup wins is the reason they aren’t winning now.”
    Didn’t Carolina win AFTER the lock-out?
    At least keep your words consistent before accusing me of altering it.
    You repeatedly cherry pick your facts to support your argument, vs having your argument support the facts.
    If one of the top 4 go, something near, or soon to be as expensive will come the other way.
    I’m willing to wait beyond one season before casting 100% judgement on Murrays signings, but apperently you’ve seen enough to know what the problem is.
    Let’s say Lee had played better, or Karlsson steps in under a rookie deal and makes a difference, suddenly your theory is gone. But you promote it like the slaries to the big 3 have kept Murray from making a move, I contend he did not believe the players available were worth the price they demanded. You think Campbell was/is worth that deal? Because that was it, as far as top2 is concerned. Was it Cap restrictions that prevented the signing, or reality?
    If you do not think Campbell was worth that deal, your entire argument collapses.

  34.  

    Ted, I’m not saying you’re definately wrong, I’m simply saying that I think our argument is pre-mature.
    The other teams you point to (CAR, TBL) as evidence to support your theory have different salary issues, so they’re not reliable reference points.
    The not having signed a top 2 O Dman, or #1 goaltender could certainly be a matter of availability as much as cap issues.
    With Gerber and Kuba off of the books next year Murray once again has the cap space to make some strategic aquisitions, now it is a matter of an availability/cost factor. Ideally these rolls would be filed internally (as has been the case with the current top flight teams), but Muckler destroyed that possibility, not Murray.
    I’m hoping (and that is all that it is at this point) that Lee and or Picard, and or Karlsson can at least become legit top 4 ODmen for next season, and that Elliott (although this remains hugely a long shot) can prove to be a legit #1.
    If either or both of those come to pass, suddenly the team is in much better shape, and can, like the other top teams, benefit from a mix of performance from veteran and rookie players.
    I’m not delusional, I’m also not prepared to accept a rather shallow and unjustified theory out of hand.

  35.  

    “If you do not think Campbell was worth that deal, your entire argument collapses.”

    Gerald when did I even bring up Campbell? My theory collapses if I don’t think Campbell was worth the money? I’ve already said in another post that Campbell was a ridiculous contract – THAT HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THIS – if u notice, I mentioned that, for example, they keep Chara over Heatley or Alfie and Fisher or something along those lines.

    As I’ve said, Ottawa is the first team with an abundance of talent that have mismanaged their cap and have not made entirely the correct decisions in terms of who to keep. If it were me, I would have kept Heatley and Spezza for sure, but not Alfie and Fisher. This is not revisionist history because u have no idea what my opinions of these players was when these contracts were signed…

    Boston and Chicago are going to face similar problems – I don’t think either team will win the cup this year (maybe conference finals?) but they stand to get worse next year and even more so in 2010 if the cap goes down significantly. But if they manage the cap properly, they can still contend. Chiacgo, specifically will be in trouble and that Campbell signing will come back to bite them.

    For the record, I think EM influences BM quite a bit (specifically with the Alfie signing) so it is not fair to blame one person solely for all of their faults. But the fact is that they have significantly mismanaged the cap and spending $20 mill on one line is not the best way to go. Period. Ottawa will not be a contender again without fixing this; they can be a playoff team but that is about it.

  36.  

    Ted, I’ll connect the dots;
    1. Chara was not traded by Murray, so that is a non starter, when evaluating Murrays moves.
    2. Redden left as a FA – The deal he signed was bad, so Murray made the right choice to let him go. He tried to trade him, but could not, as Muckler had given him a NMC.
    3. Corvo asked for a trade, so he traded him, how likely was it he would trade a PM Dman for another PM Dman…ZERO.
    4. Preissing left via FA, and signed a bad deal as well, so Murray made the right choice letting him go.
    5. Mesz demanded too much term and money considering his play. If you watched him regularly, you would know he was not worth 4M, and certainly not for 6 yrs! Murray made the right choice there, and got in return a player who has played as well or better (Kuba) then Mesz ever has, and a player/prospect who has played as well as Mesz, as well as a 1st round pick, and all for 200k less! That was a good move.
    6. If he were to replace these lost Dmen, he had Campbell available, and that is basically it. If you disagree with the deal Campbell signed, then you, ergo, agree that Murray was right not to sign him. HE DIDNiT SIGN HIM BECAUSE IT WAS A BAD DEAL, NOT BECAUSE OF THE CAP! Therefore, your cap argument is baseless.
    Unless you can show where the signings of the big 3 and Fisher kept him from signing a top 2 O Dman, what the hell is your point? It’s a theory, that when actually exposed to critical analysis, has absolutely no basis in fact, just fuzzy if and but conjecture.
    If this is the first team t have made this mistake (as you see it), why did you also mention CAR in a previous post as a comparison?
    You were wrong?
    You forgot?
    You didn’t?
    Like I said, you’ve proposed a theory, failed to support it with any fact, and then conveniently ignore the points you raised to support it, after I show how they do not apply.
    When Murray passes on a good top 2 Dman for cap reasons, then you can argue your point, but until then, it’s baseless.

  37.  

    Considering Preissing has been in Terry Murray’s doghouse all year, he would probably be fairly easy for Ottawa to re-acquire. The fact that the Kings recalled Davis Drewiske, who isn’t normally mentioned amongst the team’s better defensive prospects, and chose to leave Preissing in the press box I think says a lot about him. I would imagine he could probably be had for not much right now, maybe a 3rd/4th or a long shot prospect at best.

  38.  

    Says a lot about the situation, not Preissing himself, my mistake. For the record I think Preissing has played pretty well when he has been in the lineup – certainly better than Denis Gauthier and Peter Harrold who have gotten regular ice time. Terry Murray’s chief complaint about Tommy P has been his “compete level”, but I think there has to be more to it than that.

  39.  

    Gerald – why does Ottawa have to spend their money on a top 2 dman? Frankly, unless they get a discount of som e sort they will still be too top heavy and not have money for depth – Why can’t they have a balanced defence like Vancouver – or spend money on a quality goaltender – u keep making your point about all the dmen they have let go – I agree with letting all of those guys go (though the return on Meszaros was underwhelming) – I have never said they should have kept any of those bums. My main point the entire time has been about their poor cap management in terms of their big 3 or 4 – that is it

    My comparison with Carolina and Tbay is that both teams tried to simply keep their “core” (or as much of it as possible and assume that they’d contend again – let’s be realistic – both of those teams were fluky southeast teams that had one good year – ottawa was a perennial contender that had a lot more talent – all i’m saying is, in my opinion, they will not be able to contend if they keep their top 4 assuming the cap stays the same or drops a few mill – they can make the playoffs, but they won’t have the funds to pay their players when they need raises or upgrade their defense/goaltending via trade/free agency – their window has closed and the only way for it to be reopened is by breaking up their big 4 (and I’d suggest dumping alfie and fisher if it were at all possible, though i doubt it is),

  40.  

    “My main point the entire time has been about their poor cap management in terms of their big 3 or 4 – that is it”
    Ted, in order for your argument to have validity, you have to actually show where their cap management has hurt them. All you are doing is throwing an idea out there, but doing nothing to support it.
    Just show where it has hurt them. There’s a difference between signing bad contracts that don’t perform, and poor salary distribution. It seems to me (though it’s hard to tell, because your argument is a moving target) that your arguing salary distribution. Ok, great, so how has the Sens salary distribution hurt them? Just defend your argument, otherwise, admit it’s your opinion, but that’s all, you can’t defend it.
    Should Ottawa actually get some prospects to augment their payroll (as all other current top seeded teams have), the money spent on the top players will not be an issue. This lack of entry level talent is Mucklers responsibility, not Murrays.
    Honestly, in the absence of a shred of supporting information, I don’t get your point.

  41.  

    SJ
    Clowe – RFA
    Setoguchi – RFA
    Pavelski – RFA
    Once these deals are up, just like OTT, they will have to target their core, or blow it up and start a complete rebuild.

    BOS
    Krejci – RFA
    Kessel – RFA
    Lucic – RFA
    Wheeler – RFA
    This team sucked for years, and are now reaping the benefits.

    As for Vancouver, they’ve been brutal since they went to the Cup in ’94, absolutely gut churningly brutal. You are actually pointing to them as the better management model? Years and years of good draft positions, and still they struggle just to make the post season. In which they’ve won 2 rounds since ’94. Get real man, that comparison seals it, you’re just talking out of your butt.

  42.  

    Gerald – Ottawa’s team was built first through high draft picks, including ones that did not pan out (i.e. Yashin, Redden, Daigle, Phillips) and then some good trades like the Hossa and Yashin moves respectively. Then there were a few years where they make some excellent draft picks like havlat for example…but acting as though they could have been so good without first sucking for years is pure hyperbole. Vancouver has only had two high draft positions in the last however many years (Allen and Sedin) and traded for the other high position (Sedin number 2). Vancouver has consistently drafted in the 10-20 slot quite a bit over the last 15 years or whatever. So that is a medium draft slot, not high.

    As for Vancouver, I have not said that we are the “model” franchise; however, we don’t really have any poor money or immovable contracts on our roster other than possibly Salo, but even he isn’t such a major hindrance. And we are playing quite a bit better than the Sens now. Does it really matter that the Sens were a great regular season team for over 10 years and had one conference final and one final and have nothing else to show for it? They certainly aren’t going to be anything better than mediocre for a few years without shaking up the core.

    Your examples of San Jose and Boston are exactly what I have been saying all along: Ottawa is the first team to get screwed for having too much talent and Boston and San Jose will be as well, no doubt about it. In the salary cap era it is pretty much cyclical…why do u think Krejci, Thomas and Kessel haven’t been signed to extensions yet? Boston can’t afford it without moving some money. However, this is not a dichotic situation where it’s “all or nothing” and they either keep everyone or blow it up – Boston and San Jose will hopefully learn from Ottawa’s mistakes and not spend all their money on one position – both teams are better positioned because they have allstar dmen locked up for a bit in chara and boyle and goaltending also looks like it wont be an issue like ottawa’s, depending on rask, thomas and nabby…

    Now here is my argument plain and simple. Ottawa has approximately $24 mill tied up in those 4 forwards, two of which I feel should not be their in order for funds to be more evenly distributed. Let’s say they spend $50 mill on payroll going forward with a cap of $52 mill – this gives them a cushion and Melnyk specifically said he has a number he doesn’t want BM spending beyond – my best guess is that the number is $50 mill. So if we subtract 24 from 50, that is 26 mill remaining to pay 19 players, around $1.37 mill per player. This does not factor in Kelly or Phillips, both of whom have multiple years left on their contracts and probably do not have positive trade value at this point. Basically, is an average of 1.37 mill per player going to be enough to upgrade the defence and goaltending, even if there are a few cheap, young players and a handful of cheap utility players? I don’t think so – certainly your Bouwmeester pipedream would make them even more top heavy. I have made this same argument over and over again but u don’t seem to get it…there is really no point for me to use different words to state it again so please come up with a new reason for why ottawa is in good shape going forward for your next post…

  43.  

    Ted,
    1.Phillips, and Redden didn’t work out…are you serious? Are you basing everything on this one year? Really, you ignore everything else, but make this year the standard of value…wow, cherry pick much?
    2. No poor contracts? Sundin for over 8M is absolutely outrageous! You could have landed 2 or 3 decent players for that space. Instead you have a guy that came back to pad his bank account for another trip to Vegas.
    3. It will be all or nothing, once all those players get to UFA, which was the case with Fish, and Heatley.
    4. Chara is good no doubt, but he was in OTT too, and never contributed in the post season, making his salary of 7+M too high.
    5. 50M is not the ceiling in OTT, Melnyk has made it clear he will spend to the cap. 50M might be the strategic cap, but not the tactical cap.
    6. The team doesn’t need a whole new defensive corp, they need one bonafide offensive Dman, and that can come in at less then 6M.
    7. I do not have a JBo dream…read my posts, I would not sign JBo for more then 6M, he’s not worth it.
    Why is Ottawa in good shape?
    8. Why the salary average of 1.37M? Look at the actual payroll, who is signed, what positions remain needing to be filled, and what salary is there to accommodate it. This is my point, you just apply your theory in a fictitious environment vs. actually examining the reality of the situation.
    Here is the reality.
    To improve they need;
    1. A second line forward – <5M
    This can be mitigated by the development of Zubov, and possibly Regin, Z. Smith, Foligno or Winchester.
    2. A transition Dman – <5M
    This can be mitigated by the development of Lee, Picard and E. Karlsson.
    3. A #1 goaltender. 5M.
    This can be mitigated by the development of Elliott.
    Going into next season Ottawa has 18 players signed, with @8.4M in cap space remaining.
    One of either Kelly or Vermette (or both) will be going, and I suspect it will be Kelly (based upon skill set, as the Sens have several prospects who can play his minutes for less $$$). Smith & Schubert will also be going. Murray will gladly accept picks, or prospects, and expiring contracts in return.
    This now makes the roster look like this;
    Heatley – Spezza – Alfie (19.9M)
    Vermette – Fisher – ??? (6.963M)
    Foligno – Regin – Winchester (2.08M)
    Donnovan – Bass – Z. Smith (1.695M)

    Phillips – Volchenkov (6M)
    ??? – Lee (1.25M)
    M. Karlsson* – Picard (1.4M)

    Elliot* (2M)
    Auld (1M)

    Total Forwards = @30.638M
    Total Defense = @8.65M*
    Total Goaltenders = @3M*
    Total Buy Out = .230M
    Total Salary Cap Hit = $42.518M
    *assume M. Karlsson re-signed for .6M, Elliot re-signed for 2M (which is probably generous).
    This leaves @10.482M (assuming a $54M salary cap)to sign a top six forward, and a top 4 Dman, and leave some salary room (1M).
    This is absolutely doable.
    Will decisions need to made the following year, possibly, if the cap decreases as much as some forecast it will (but I doubt it will, as the teams making money will cry bloody murder to be subsidizing lame duck franchises with both real money, and now cap space too (players, competitiveness), suddenly Bettman will be turfed, and either contraction, or franchise movement WILL happen).
    Will Elliott work out as a bonafide #1? Who knows, but so far so good, and going into next season he’ll have that much more experience. If he doesn’t, then like any other team with poor prospect depth, it will suffer until that depth is recouped, which Murray is doing. I would be hard pressed to say DET has had stellar goalies for all of their Cup wins however.
    As for Vancouver not having draft picks…yes they did, they traded or squandered them though;
    95 – 14th – traded away.
    96 – 12th – J. Holden (?)
    97 – 10th – B. Ference (?)
    98 – 4th – B. Allen (decent pick considering draft depth)
    99 – 2nd & 3rd – The Sedins (Good picks considering horrible draft depth, but I would say they’ve disappointed over-all considering their pts. totals vs. hype)
    00 – 11th – Traded away.
    01 – 16th – RJ Umberger (decent pick, but traded away for nothing before he could help the club)
    02 – 17th – Traded away
    03 – 23rd – R. Kessler (decent pick, but nothing to write home about)
    04 – 26th – C. Schneider (TBD, but some good talent was passed over to take a goalie)
    05 – 10th – L. Boudon (good pick, sad ending)
    06 – 14th – M. Grabner (Not looking good)
    07 – 25th – P. White (A big time project, that is struggling, to say the least)
    08 – 10th – Cody Hodgson (TBD, but had a solid showing at the WJC’s)
    So that is 6 top 10 picks in 12 years, 4 to have played in the NHL, 1 prospect, 1 write off, and 3 remaining with the club.
    6 top 11 – 20 picks, one remaining with the club, who is quickly falling out of contention as a legit NHL prospect.
    Apart from an elite goaltender, this club is entirely lacking in elite talent, is once again struggling to make the post season, has little or nothing in the prospect hopper of strategic note, and is due to lose, or re-sign, most of it’s core forwards. Frankly, if I were a Canucks fan, I’d be more concerned about the fact my house is on fire, the the neighbours peeling paint.
    But this has nothing to do with the OTT situation, outside of the fact you pointed to VAN as an alternative model.
    You have yet to point out how OTT’s salary structure has precluded it’s ability to compete (or, as you put it, screwed them), and as this is the conclusion of your argument, you might like to actually consider doing so, rather then just insisting you’re right, because you say so. The lack of quality prospects has “screwed” them. Spreading out there salary might make them better in the short term, but once the prospects develop, who will lead them (much like Vancouver has been for the last 3 season)?
    The issue, I contend, is prospect depth, and a lack of available top 4 Dmen for reasonable prices that has hurt this club. Elliott may be the first prospect in years to alleviate this issue, and Karlsson may be the next. Time will tell. Should OTT be fortunate enough to select a player able to make an impact in the NHL in the short term, the situation will brighten all the more, current salary distribution and all.

  44.  

    I think we all need to take our rose-coloured glasses off on this one (myself included) and call a spade a spade.

    1. Gerald, you’re really banking on the Picards, Zack Smiths, Ilya Zubovs, and Brian Elliots to pull this team out of the cellar. I’m sorry, but that’s just not happening. None of these guys will become anything that will substantially improve this team and get back to its 2007 levels. Read any scouting report and ask anybody, for the Sens, the answer’s not “from within.”

    2. The Sens have cap troubles. Their defense and goaltending needs work. And now since there’s nothing for the Sens to do about the cap, a very liable solution (but not the only one) is to shave off contracts from their forwards and invest more in net and on the blueline. And yes, that means their roster is “top-heavy” as Ted puts it.

    3. Fisher’s underperforming, but unless the guy can post + numbers at the end of every season while potting 50 points he will always be overpaid.

    4. The Sundin contract isn’t poor for 3 reasons. 1) he’s a UFA this summer, and 2) the $8m is pro-rated, and 3) although the record doesn’t show it, Sundin makes the team better, he raises the talent level of the squad. Would I take one Sundin over 2-3 roster players that will no doubt be seeking multi-year contracts with big money like Vrbata and Malone? Yes.

    5. The Sens may not be the first team to struggle coming out of the lockout with the cap, but you can’t deny that they at one point they’d have to go the Lightning route and trade away some big salaries and key players.

    6. Gerald, you’re seriously underestimating Bouwmeester and Chara. Redden hasn’t been as bad as many have made him out to be, he’s actually doing okay on an inconsistent (and frankly, overrated) squad.

    7. The Sens aren’t in particularly bad shape on paper. With the right coach this team could be fighting for a playoff spot, but the roster needs a tweak. Gerald’s right on this one, this current squad is “doable,” it’s just a matter of finding and adding the right pieces. Obviously much easier said than done.

  45.  

    Jason – I don’t know if it is because we are both Canuck fans or what, but I pretty much agree with all of your comments. Sundin is a 1 year deal – even if he got the 2 year deal, it would not preclude signing Luongo or anything; in fact, I fully believe the 2 year deal was made BECAUSE it would preclude signing the Sedins because Gillis doesn’t want them back. Anyway, the point is that Sundin is short term so it won’t preclude, for example, signing Luongo, Bieksa, Hodgson and whoever else comes down the road to extensions. Ottawa has their big 4 for another 4 years…now Ottawa doesn’t have too much young talent at the moment to lock up, but if they had some of Boston’s young players they’d be in trouble with that core locked up. Contracts need to be somewhat staggered and teams simply can’t lock up everyone for long term deals. Philly will be in trouble because of this and so will Detroit (to a lesser degree) unless they manage to move Cleary or Suart or something.

    As for Vancouver’s draft record, obviously it sucks – I am perfectly aware of this – however, Schneider was a steal where he was taken- I know u r under the delusion that Elliot can “solve” the goalie dilemma, but he will be a 1A goalie or backup while Schneider is pretty much the best goalie prospect in the AHL. Grabner also is looking fine – he is a long term guy but he has improved his goal total nicely in his 2nd yr in the AHL – the Canucks are by no means deep with young players, but they are better than Ottawa, are devoid of long term immovable contracts and are a lot closer to being a true contender than the Sens. We simply lack a true franchise forward and a second 1st line forward (not the Sedins).

    Anyway Gerald, apparently there is no convincing u just like there is no convincing me…if u feel the sens are managing their cap well and simply need young players that is fine…let’s see what they do next year because the Sens did used to be one of my fave teams…

  46.  

    And on Fisher – lets say he scores about 25 goals, 60 pts with his quality defense and leadership – to me, that is a very nice 2nd line centre that deserves the 4 mill or so he is making. However, this does not mean it fits Ottawa’s salary structure. He would work well and be a good deal on a team like Atlanta, for example, but not in Ottawa with the big 3 making what they are making. Simply because he earns his money as an individual does not mean it works for the team’s payroll structure; after all, no team can afford a 2nd line of Mike Fisher’s at 12 mill and maximize their dollar…

  47.  

    Jason, to be fair;
    1. If you look at my line up, Zubov isn’t on it, and Z. Smith, Picard, and Winchester are out of the top lines, so I’m hardly counting on them to become star, or elite players.
    2. Would it take more then 10.5M to sign a top 4 Dman, and second line winger? If not, the cap is not an issue. When this team went to the Cup finals, the defense, apart from Redden, who was not playing well, was hardly comprised of big name players. The second line was Fisher, Comrie and Shaefer, does that strike you as irreplaceable talent?
    3. Fisher et al are under-performing, I’m certainly not disputing that, but the point is, they UNDER-performing, which implies they can play better. Compare his salary to other players of his ilk (not RFA’s) and I defy you to defend his being over-paid when he signed that deal.
    4. So, Sundin makes one of the highest salaries in the league, is out of shape, not playing well, the team is struggling with him, but it’s a good deal…seriously? THAT’S rose coloured glasses. I can’t point to facts to support my view, you point to “hope”, not reality.
    5. If Elliott doesn’t work out, then yes, they will have to make a move, but if he can be a legit #1, not even elite, then no, they’re cap situation is manageable.
    6. I said Chara has not been great in the post season, am I wrong in that? Check the numbers. I love Chara, but I’m not going to coronate the guy, because I’ve watched him, and I’ve seen his deficiencies. Redden, 17 pts., -8, 65:32 prod., $6.5M. This is considered “doing ok” to you? But you don’t like Picard, 14 pts, -1, 61:59 prod., $750k? This doesn’t seem a tad on shaky ground to you? Those are the facts of the matter Jason, whether they support your opinions or not.
    I like Bouwmeester, a lot, but not at over 6M, and he may well sign for north of 7M.
    7. Fixing this squad will be a challenge, and I do not argue that Murray hasn’t even a mm of breathing room on the cap with which to do it, but, I do believe, IF the players can be made to return to form, the missing pieces can be found.
    Just to be clear, I have no idea what will happen, and I may well be completely wrong, but, when I examine the facts of the situation, I simply do not see it as being beyond salvation, nor do I believe Murray is the architect of all of the issues at play.

  48.  

    Ted, you’ve just contradicted yourself;
    “Ottawa has their big 4 for another 4 years…now Ottawa doesn’t have too much young talent at the moment to lock up, but if they had some of Boston’s young players they’d be in trouble”
    This is the whole point, because they didn’t (and still do not) have others they need to sign, they could (and can continue to)spend big on the core. It is far easier to find the spare parts, then the elite players, and with NOTHING in the hopper, they had to either sign the talent they had, or strip it to the foundation, and completely rebuild through the draft, a la expansion team. You can’t rebuild via FA.
    The contracts are staggered, as it will be at the expiry of these deals that any talented rookies will be coming out of their RFA years.

  49.  

    Sorry, hit post by accident, lol!
    Schneider has nothing to point to that Elliott doesn’t as well, apart from hype.
    Karlsson, Peterson, Weircoch, Elliott, O’Brien, Lee. These do not compare to Schneider, Hodgson, and Grabner? Take a closer look Ted. The ‘Nucks traded for LaBarberra, rather then call up Schneider, that says a lot. Meanwhile, playing for one of the worst teams in the NHL, Elliott has a 2.55 GAA, and a .911 sv%. But Schneider is clearly the better prospect, obviously…? BTW, Zubov is doing as well, or better then Grabner, in his second AHL season, on a so, so team.
    As for Fish, he has a long way to go to earn that contract, but I have no problem with having that contract on the books, if it was performing.

  50.  

    Gerald – there is not one GM in the league that would rather have Elliot over Schneider and u r using the nhl stats of each to compare them when they have each played, what like less than 10 games each – doug maclean, an actual GM called elliot a number 2 like Pogge; every site ive seen has called elliot a number 2 or 1A – call it “hype” all u want – any actual talent evaluator knows Schneider can be a true number 1 goalie…not so sure about Elliott – I trust actual people who know something about hockey over u, just like I’m sure u’d trust experts over what I say…

  51.  

    Ted,
    Scouting is exactly that, scouting. Playing trumps scouting everytime, and even scouts say that. The league is full of players who have exceeded their “projected” potential, and often times being pegged with potential can be a matter of exposure, and group think.
    Exposure – Paying in the right league, with the right team, at the right time can give a player a great deal of exposure, and that can create a buzz.
    Group Think – Nobody likes to be the voice of the minority, and once a player gets some strong reports, other scouts often go along.
    Elliott has never had either of these, but if you look at his record, both in the NCAA, and in the AHL, he’s been a very good goaltender. The fact he has carried this into the NHL speaks volumes, and to deny his potential because he never had exposure, or group think, is akin to the King wearing no clothes.
    I’m not saying Schneider is a bust, but the fact he wasn’t successful when called up, and was demoted in favour of LaBarberra…?
    Elliot won the NCAA title, was a Hobey Baker finalist (many said he would have won if the voting were done after the frozen four), was NCAA 1st team All-Star, and, when going head to head with Schneider in the A, was named Starter for TEAM USA, and was the AHL player of the month. Those are real accomplishments, not predictions/hype/hope.
    A bird in the hand Ted…
    Any GM, any talent evaluator…you base this on what? The fact saying so suits your opinion? I think you’re making a lot of assumptions for people who aren’t here commenting. I’ve heard plenty of talent evaluators saying the opposite.

  52.  

    Gerald, this argument is clearly going nowhere…however, statistics at the lower levels are not the be all, end all, as I’m sure you are aware. Totally random example, but Corey Locke can dominate the junior levels and still be drafted in the middle rounds because he is not projectable. It’s the same with Elliot; sure, he could be a decent goalie and he may end up better than the higher touted prospect like Schneider, I geuss we’ll see. Heck, Brian Lee was more touted than Alex Edler two years ago though Edler is a potential all-star according to some while who knows about Lee (though I still believe Lee will be a good NHLer).

    Well, to say Elliot has carried his good minor league stats into the NHL is an exaggeration after that one brutal start the other day. His numbers are mediocre now – they may be below average after another bad start. To judge people after 10 games is completely dumb – Elliot carrying his minor league stats to the NHL “speaks volumes” – do u think anyone here believes that u would be using such a small sample size for any other reason than to support your argument- why do u do it? Because it “suits your argument”? Well, Lee has to be a complete bust because he has carried his poor AHL season into the NHL – let’s not look at the rest of his career..,my opinion is dumb because I am a Canucks fan? That “seals it”? Seriously, that is such excellent evidence to support your arguments…let’s see if u can guess which talent evaluators said these wonderful things…

    “Fine Gerald. You win. Murray is a genius, he has made no mistakes, and he has the Senators on track to win a Stanley Cup.”

    “Seriously, take your ball and go home in triumph Gerald. Your superior arguments clearly win the day.”

    “I think we all need to take our rose-coloured glasses off on this one (myself included) and call a spade a spade.”

    Now Gerald – I am sure u don’t care about my opinion, but I have actually supported some of the things u have said – I don’t think anyone else here has agreed with some of your points as much as I have – but now it is just getting to the point where nothing u say can be wrong; Sundin is a bad signing, but spending over 9 mill on alfie next yr doesn’t need analysis because, why, his cap hit is lower? Spending $20 mill on one line can’t be the reason they are sucking because I have no proof – There was nothing else but Sundin for us to spend our money on at this point – but, wait, he has sucked for 10 games so it was horrible

    Elliot, Lee and Zubov are the next Crosby, Whitney and Fleury – we don’t need to use the secondary sources of scouting reports because u r such an expert – Elliot’s strong minor league numbers suggest he’s a solid number 1 goalie while Lee has had poor numbers this year, but he has hype from being a high pick so he is fine.

    I can be a complete prick and just insult u in every single post as well – u notice how nobody else here agrees with your moronic opinion…

  53.  

    Ted,
    He has a winning record, on the second worst club in the NHL, and a 2.55 GA/.910 sv%. Sure it’s only 10 games, but it’s 10 games in a worst case scenario, and that is worth noting. I don’t make it up, like saying what others think, in order to fabricate legitimacy, I’m using facts, not conjecture, hearsay, or hyperbole.
    In the WSH game Elliott wasn’t pulled because of his play, he was pulled because of the teams play. He had actually made some stupendous saves, but was being hung out to dry, so Hartsy pulled him. He had already face 16 shots in 22 minutes!
    Did you see the game? 2 of the 4 were PP, totally unstopable (Green frm pt, screen, OV, cross ice feed). The third was a tip out front, a result from 2 terrible defensive play s by Lee at the side of his net, and Phillips out front, neither checking their men. The fourth was OV, screened between Kuba’s legs, as he was inexplicably backing in, instead of challenging.
    Ted, I’ve said I may be wrong, but I’ve supported my views with fact, actual arguments. You’ve stated an opinion, then failed, or refused to support it. Why? It’s not because you don’t have the time, or why would you keep posting? One can only assume it is because you cannot support it, therefore, who is the one refusing to concede, the one supporting his arguments with fact, or the one refusing to support his argument with fact? If you were a casual observer, with not interest either way, would you adhere to the argument entirely bereft of anything but conjecture, opinion and hyperbole?
    Show where the cap distribution has precluded Murray from making moves.
    Show where signing Sundin for 8+M has been good for the ‘Nucks.
    Show where Schneider has proven to have more potential then Elliott.
    These aren’t unreasonable expectations, unless of course you feel your opinion is somehow synonymous with fact.
    Did I ever compare Elliot, Lee of Zubov to elite prospects? If not, why say this, unless, once again, you intend to bolster the legitimacy of your baseless opinion, by using hyperbole to discredit mine.
    So, I should concede because 3 people on a hockey forum, who have not provided a shred a supporting data, disagree with my well founded argument? Well then, how can I argue in the face of that degree of logic?

  54.  

    Gerald…The cap distribution or poor money management or whatever u feel like calling it has the Sens near the cellar – why do I need to prove this when it is an indisputable fact that they are neat the bottom? if u would like quantitative evidence, check the standings. Did Bryan Murray inherit a lot of bad contracts from John Muckler? The sens are near the cap without too much flexibility…your solution is to assume that Kelly won’t be back next year because his 3 year commitment will disappear because u want it to…

    So far in the Canuck game, Sundin has 3 points – of course, this is his 11th game in a canuck uniform and I know u only like sample sizes that are 10 games or fewer. He also had 2 points in a win in his 10th game on Tuesday…but, wait, I’m a Canuck fan so that “seals” that I know nothing – terrific logic – I hope u r not a university student, u won’t convince any professor that their argument is weak because they support a hockey team that u dislike

    Go to hockeyfutures or another site if u need an education on Schneider and elliot’s potentials…doug maclean the other day calls elliot a backup at best…bob Mackenzie said earlier that while Schneider is not carey price, he is still a hell of a prospect and has true number 1 potential…

    Congrats for using so many words to convince nobody of anything on a single post…I’m sure we shall battle again on another comment in the future…u may have the last word if u so desire…

  55.  

    Ted, you have to actually show correlation in order to support your argument, not point to two entirely independent variables, and expect the rest to fall in place. I could just as legitimately point to coaching, or any number of other variables. Simply show how the current cap situation precluded Murray from improving the club. If you cannot do that, you have nothing but a naked theory.
    As for Sundin, time will tell, but one game is not much to hang your hat on. Unless of course, you think Vermette, who also hat a 3 pt game is worth 8+M.
    You seem to think how much of cap is available after a deal validates a players value, to me, the player should earn the salary they make, and Sundin has never been worth 8+M, let alone now at 37.

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