What’s an Ottawa Senators season without a little controversy or mystery?
When Bobby Ryan was announced as a scratch prior to Ottawa’s 1-0 loss to the Capitals Saturday night, it spurred speculation as to why the Senators’ highest paid player was sitting on the sidelines.
Not only was Ryan present at practice that morning, he also participated in the team’s pre-game skate.
Come puck drop, Ryan was nowhere to be seen and after the game, he wasn’t available to the media. Not that it mattered much since in the days that followed, neither he nor Boucher have disclosed the reasons behind the decision for Ryan to sit out.
“The coach said it’s going to be dealt with in house, and we’re going to keep it in house, that’s it,” Ryan said. “I know it doesn’t help your jobs in the speculation columns and the things you’ve got to do, but some things deserve to stay in house and this is one of them.”
As NHL.com’s Chris Stevenson pointed out in an excellent interview on TSN 1200 (that you can listen to here), the organization and the player have not done themselves any favours in their handling of an issue.
Rather than just pin the incident a white lie like the player being ill, the mutual decision to remain quiet not only fuels speculation, it draws attention away from the team and their most recent win.
Stevenson offered what’s probably the most plausible reason for Ryan’s absence. After being benched for the remaining 8:48 his team’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on January 1st and having almost a week off between games, Ryan could have stewed over his benching in such a tight game and confronted Boucher at the conclusion of the bye week.
Whether the benching is completely performance-related remains to be seen, but I have a hard time believing that the head coach would send a message by benching one of its better offensive talents when Curtis Lazar continues to receive this organization’s unwavering support.
Considering how forthright the organization has been with the Craig Anderson situation and its disclosure of the reasons why Cody Ceci and Ryan were held out of the first period of an exhibition contest in the fall, it’s disappointing to see this kind of ambiguity now.
But, maybe Elliotte Friedman is onto something in his latest ’30 Thoughts’ column:
29. When a coach like Guy Boucher steadfastly refuses to answer questions about someone (like he’s doing with Bobby Ryan), I wonder if it’s because he honestly can’t. If the discipline or situation becomes an NHL/NHLPA issue, the muzzle is mandated.
In the second year of a seven-year deal, Ryan’s seven goals and 14 points aren’t commensurate of his contract’s $7.25-million annual average value.
As likable as Ryan is and as much as it looks like he’s giving an effort on the ice, his contract carries the weight of expectations and fans never really care that contracts like Ryan’s are often awarded for past production.
It’s that kind of production that has fans already yearning to get out of the deal and at 29-years old, it’s not like Ryan’s best years are ahead of him. As a slow-footed forward who relies on his stickhandling and finesse to elude defenders, the sad reality that many are coming to terms with is that Ryan’s speed isn’t exactly helping him create or sustain the kind of separation he needs to be an effective player.
It’s not Ryan’s fault that management gave away a sizable opportunity cost to bring in a player who was not only on a one-year contract, but had the kind of underlying statistics that should have given the organization pause. Nor is it his fault that he was also on a one-year contract at the time of the deal which essentially painted the organization into a corner where they had to give him a max dollar deal to prevent him from testing free agency. Nor is it his fault that the organization has a tendency to compound their mistakes with more mistakes that aren’t befitting of a small market club.
None of it is on him, but he’ll bear the brunt of the criticism.
Where the situation goes from here remains to be seen, but you can’t blame fans for wishfully thinking that Las Vegas rolls the dice on him when he’s left unprotected for the expansion draft. Mind you, thanks to his contract and dwindling production, who’s to say that Vegas will take him?
Ottawa’s current set of home and road jerseys have essentially been panned from the moment that they were originally unveiled in 2007, but Sens fans endure.
It’s just what we do and we have to endure them or some variation of them for a while longer.
According to a report out the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “sources tell the Star Tribune that all NHL teams will be permitted to have only home and road jerseys next season as Adidas takes over for Reebok as the official outfitter of NHL uniforms.”
To make the implementation and roll out of these new uniforms easier, NHL teams will apparently not wear alternate sweaters next season.
Considering how some fans long for a return to the 2-D logo or a permanent switch to the heritage sweaters that the team has worn, this report has spurred an outcry of support for an alternative to Ottawa’s current set of home and aways.
For whatever reason, the organization has been hesitant to listen to its fan base and move away from its fucking spectacularly shittacular brand. Not only did they rebrand all of its Stanley Cup banners, but they included the modern logo on Alfredsson’s jersey retirement banner. On the surface, it seems like the logo is going nowhere.
Prospect Porn – Pronman’s Post-WJC Thoughts
Over at ESPN Insider, Corey Pronman published his list of standouts, surprises and disappointments at this year’s World Junior Championships. The prospect analyst highlighted three Senators prospects who stood out and predictably, Thomas Chabot and Colin White earned some heavy praise.
“Chabot was fantastic during the World Juniors, being named not only the top defenseman at the event, but the tournament MVP after his insane workload in the semifinal and final. He’s a ridiculously good skater for a tall player, makes high-level plays with consistency and can dominate the transition game. I probably still wouldn’t qualify him as a top-end shutdown guy, but with his feet and skill, his team often has the puck anyway. Bulking up and continuing to refine his positional play will go a long way to helping him be a regular with Ottawa next season.“
“White was the No. 1 center for the USA and a critical part of his team’s long run at the tournament. White doesn’t have elite speed or hands, but his brain is elite. He’s always around the puck making a good play, and he doesn’t tend to hurt his team. He’s a very capable scorer on top of being a great defensive center. He drives the play forward as well as any center in college hockey, and he should be in the NHL sooner rather than later.“
Although he wasn’t tabbed as a standout, Sweden’s Jonathan Dahlen was highlighted as one of the tournament’s surprises.
“I expected Dahlen to be a decent player for Sweden, but he ended up being one of its top five forwards. His speed is improved, but still not great. He doesn’t dangle defenders, but he’s a gritty, versatile forward who can make a skilled pass or bulldoze his way to the net. Dahlen got a ton of shots on goal, and the coaching staff trusted him to be useful in any situation.”
These three players will be integral to helping push the Senators from their middling status. Although the system isn’t completely barren beyond these prospects, how quickly they can adjust and contribute to the parent club is pivotal for this team’s success simply because almost everyone on the parent roster has reached or is close to reaching their projected ceiling.
Senators Fire VP of Marketing
In August of 2014 the Senators hired Peter O’Leary to be their new Chief Marketing Officer and Vice-President of Ticketing and according to some rumblings on social media, O’Leary was released from his duties earlier this season when the Senators went on their west coast swing.
Attendance has been a well-documented problem for the organization this season and fan interest and apathy seems to have set in despite the team’s modest success in the standings.
Correcting this problem will be a challenge for whomever comes in.
Other News and Notes:
- Erik Karlsson was named to this year’s All-Star Game. He is the lone Senators representative. Although his play warrants an appearance, I wish a player like Mark Stone would get more league-wide attention for his on-ice contributions.
- Travis Yost looks at the Senators’ blue line and wonders if the Senators are actually a better team under Guy Boucher.
- Peter Joynt dropped a new Senators-inspired track entitled ’25 & always’. You can check out its video below: