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The Sports Daily > The 6th Sens
Pierre Dorion Speaks: Winning Streak, Colin White, NCAA free agents

Fresh off the Senators’ six-game winning streak, general manager Pierre Dorion joined Lee Versage and Steve Lloyd on TSN 1200’s ‘In the Box’ yesterday to discuss his team’s recent performance.

To listen to the full interview, you can use the embedded audio at the bottom of this post. For a full transcription, you can find Dorion’s comments below.

As always, my thoughts are in bold.

On their six-game winning streak and battling through some adversity in these wins…

“I think a lot of the credit has to go to our players. I think players are probably playing in roles that they’re not used to. There have been some new additions, but we’ve found a way to win. It wasn’t the prettiest road trip, but at the end of the day, when you get six points out of six points on a road trip – even though they’re (against) weaker teams, you’ve still got to win the games. So for us, a lot of credit goes to our players, a lot of credit goes to our coaching staff who have gotten the team ready and thank God for Erik Karlsson.”

Even if you want to discredit the team’s performance by playing down the quality of opposition, Dorion’s right. You can’t fault this team for taking advantage of a soft schedule and beating some shitty teams. In years past, these were the kind of games that this team struggled with.

On what the latest on Mark Stone’s injury…

“Mark Stone is out with a lower-body injury. He is week-to-week and probably won’t play on this home stand. We hope to have him traveling with us after the Saturday game, so Sunday in Montreal, so week-to-week. (There’s) not much more I can say about that one.”

The soft road trip is over and the schedule becomes exponentially more difficult. Knowing this, it’s great that the Senators picked up as many points as they could and built themselves a point cushion that gives them a bigger margin for error, especially with players like Stone and Anderson possibly missing significant periods of time.

On the severity of the injury…

“I was led to believe that it could have been much worse and I didn’t have much sleep when I was told that it could have been much worse. But now, we know that he’ll be back at a certain point in time.”

Get back soon, Stone.

On updating Kyle Turris’ health…

“Kyle Turris is very, very hopeful for tomorrow. (Mark Borowiecki) is day-to-day and Bobby Ryan is getting closer. We hope that he plays on this home stand.”

Aside from Turris, it was hard to tell whether Ryan or Borowiecki were actually missing from action.

On Chris Neil’s health…

“Chris Neil, from what I’m told, is still a few weeks away.”

Neil’s career with the Senators appears to be drawing to a close. He’s in Chris Phillips territory here.

On Erik Karlsson essentially taking games over during his team’s three-game road trip…

“No, that’s exactly it. I think Erik just said, ‘Hey guys, we can’t lose to Arizona,’ and he just said, ‘I’m going to make sure that we’re going to win.’ He took the team on his shoulders and just said,’ Uh-uh, it’s not going to happen. We need two points. We need to stay atop the standings here as far as being in the playoffs,’ and he just took it upon himself to make sure that we won. I think with Erik, the games are becoming harder and he’s becoming better. Erik has given us everything and when we talk about his defensive play, his shot-blocking, his ability to just get the puck out of our own end so we spend less time there, he’s as advertised. He’s arguably the best defenceman in the league and arguably one of the top players in the league and I’m very fortunate for about 78 games a year or 76 – how many games a year I get to see him (play live). I describe it a bit like Tiger Woods in his prime. We’ll talk about how great he was when maybe he won’t be as good, but we have something so special here. Like, the fans in Ottawa don’t realize… we get to see the league night-in and night-out and we have something so special in Erik Karlsson. The best part about it is he has taken his team on his shoulders. Him and Guy (Boucher) have a great relationship and he’s embraced it from day one. He’s just said, ‘I’m going to play the way that we need to play. I might sacrifice a few points,’ but at the same time, he’s still second in the league in assists and we’re going to be better for it as a team.”

Dude’s a dominant defenceman and Dorion’s right, we’re lucky to have him and enjoy watching him in his prime. It’s too bad he’s surrounded by an incompetent defensive corps, but I have a hard time imagining what he could do with some very good partners.

On there being less noise about Karlsson’s shortcomings this season and the increased perception that Erik Karlsson is a well-rounded defenceman…

“I think he’d be the first one to tell you that he’s become a more rounded defenceman. Even though he was 11th in shot-blocking last year, I think he’s taken that to another level. I think he’s taken his defensive game to another level. He’s taken his compete to another level and I think he’s still as offensively-gifted as before. Sometimes it’s opportunity or situations. We’ve maybe got more one-goal games, so he might not get as many points, but overall (he’s been better). I know he finished second in the Norris (Trophy voting) last year, to me, he’s been much, much better this year.”

Karlsson’s defensive shortcomings were a narrative for shitbag mainstream types who relied on agents and teams to tell stories. Last year’s Norris Trophy vote was a farce and realistically, without that Matt Cooke-drawn Achilles injury, Karlsson should have won four of the past five Norris votes. Dude’s dominant, but because of his offensive prowess, his defensive acumen has never received the praise that it should have.

On Craig Anderson playing at the level that he’s playing at…

“Well, I think Craig is probably one of the most underrated players in the league. In the last few years, he was one of the guys who faced the most shots. His ability to keep us us in games that probably we shouldn’t have been in was a big reason why Ottawa had some kind of success and I think with the way that we’ve played this year, I think he’s embraced it that we’ve facing probably less scoring chances. But at the same time, he’s a true number one goalie who’s able to make the big save at key moments. Even the Colorado game, it’s 1-0 for them and he makes a few big saves and the game doesn’t get out of hand. I think we were talking the other day with Bryan (Murray) on the road trip and we were talking about the best deals he’s made and he’s made quite a lot over his NHL career, but for Ottawa you look at just the fact of getting a number one goalie. In Craig’s case, it’s probably one of the deals that put the franchise on the right track, so I think with Craig, he’s so quiet. He doesn’t really talk a lot about personal success, but to me, he’s one of the most underrated players in the league.”

It’s totally fair, but with the storyline involving Craig’s wife undergoing cancer treatment and everything that he’s had to deal with off the ice, it’s impossible not to pull for Anderson and everything he’s had to endure this season.

On what has to happen for Clarke MacArthur to reset his situation this offseason…

“Well, to me, I didn’t get a chance to get to read the article, so I’m not exactly sure. But, I was just told a little bit of tidbits about it before coming on air here. First of all, the doctors will decide at the end of the day. We want Clarke to play. Clarke wants to play, but I think the doctors will decide at the end of the day if they clear him and they’ll be the people that decide that. As far as having Clarke around, he’s great to have around. He’s great leader. He’s a great teammate. He can only help our chemistry (and) our room to have around and skating with the guys. There’s no issues there and then once we get to what needs to be done post this season and in-line for next year, if the doctors clear him, then I don’t see a problem. I think in these cases, you’ve got to make sure that it’s a human being. To me, hockey’s a great game, but life is way more important. We have to make sure that we sit down with Clarke and understand all the consequences or ramifications of him coming back and playing. I think when you put all that together, we hope he comes back. We’re going to cheer him on and hope that everything is right, but at the end of the day, the doctors will have the final word here.”

Considering the circumstances, I don’t know what else Clarke MacArthur is supposed to say. It’s obvious that he wanted to play this season, but was shut down because doctors saw something within his medical file that they were not comfortable with. At least comfortable enough to allow him to continue his playing career. Having missed the past two regular seasons, it’s hard to believe that MacArthur will reach a point wherein he’ll receive medical clearance, but I have enough confidence in his abilities to believe that he could positively impact the Senators’ roster if healthy. He was just that good of a player.

On Colin White and whether he has a chance to play on the Senators before the end of the year…

“I’m not sure. I’m not sure just for the simple reason that I think right now with all the additions that we’ve made, we’ve got enough depth that we can sustain injuries. I really like (Phil) Varone when he’s been called up. To put in a 19 or 20-year old into a playoff race or a playoff game when you don’t have that baggage of experience is something that I’m not sure is best for us and best for the kid. But, we’re going to look at every option possible and I know sometimes we make NHL players sometimes better than they ought to be – though in this case, I’m sure that he’ll be a long-term NHL player for us – but we just got to be careful here about expectations and we don’t the kid to lose confidence – so we’re going to be careful. We’re going to look at it. We’re going to talk about it amongst ourselves and the coaches and we have a lot of good people here in (Daniel Alfredsson, Bryan Murray, Randy Lee and myself) and talk to the coaching staff about what would be the best course of action, then we’ll make a decision once the season is completed. Ideally, I’d like him to play until April so that means he’s (playing in) another Frozen Four. They don’t have as good a team as last year, but you never know what can happen once the playoffs start.”

Even though I believe the bar is set really low for Colin White to clear, this response from Dorion isn’t exactly beaming with optimism for White’s prospective chances to stick with this roster.

On the possibility that Colin White could play in the AHL once his season is over…

“Yeah, and that might not be the worst course of action – to realize that the AHL is a very difficult league and you’re playing against men there and the men there are as strong as the guys in the NHL. At that level, the passes aren’t always on the tape, so all options will be discussed. But, we’ll just wait until the season ends and then we’ll have an update for everyone.”

Great….

On whether he’s confident that Colin White will be there in training camp next fall…

“We’ll wait until his season ends. You’re trying hard, but we’ll just wait until his season ends and we’ll go about it from that point of view.”

Sure.

On whether the organization learns from player development like Curtis Lazar and whether that impacts how the organization handles a player like Colin White…

“You always hope to learn from lessons in the past. But I think, case-by-case, I think every player it’s a different scenario. I think both Colin and Curtis are different players. I think people tend to forget how good Curtis Lazar was when we had our playoff run a few years ago – how him and (Jean-Gabriel) Pageau and (Erik) Condra were arguably our best line and one of the big reasons we got into the playoffs. I think sometimes we’ve got to take a step back and always re-evaluate what we’re doing. I think there’s a question of mental strength in every player’s case. Some guys can handle adversity a bit better than others while others can’t. It’s how mentally strong a kid is – if he goes through a bit of adversity because they all think they can play in the NHL. They all think they can step in and contribute and rarely that’s the case. So we’ve got to make sure that whatever we do that when you’re a young prospect, we have to surround you and make sure that you’re in a situation where the team can benefit but more importantly, the player can develop and grow in that situation.”

Curtis Lazar was at his best because Condra and Pageau did most of the work. Not surprisingly, Pageau’s numbers haven’t been the same since and more than anything, it’s transparent that Pageau needs more help than the shittacular talent Ottawa has trotted out on his wings ever since. He not only needs some more offensive talent, he needs a player who can help transition the puck from the defensive end to the offensive end. Too often, he’s been saddled with dump and chase linemates who have a difficult time preserving puck possession in the offensive end.

On what it’s like to get out and grasp the situation facing his team while getting out and observing this year’s prospects…

“Well, I’ve been out a bit and not as much as in previous years. I think last year was the first time I didn’t get out as much. I obviously saw all the players in the first round quite a bit, but after that, I didn’t see them as much. The year before that, I pretty much saw everyone we picked so your title’s changed and your role has changed, so I haven’t been out as much. But just an indication, if you think this is a bad draft, how come only one or two first rounders have been traded? So, I don’t think the depth of the draft may be that great, but I had the chance to see quite a bit of first rounders at the prospect game and other games that I’ve been out (at) and at the same time, our scouts feel that the top two rounds are going to get good NHL players – hence the reason we took a second round pick for Curtis Lazar and we didn’t have one before. We still feel we’re going to get at least two good NHL players and hopefully with our other picks, we can hit a homerun or get someone who can help us down the road.”

Or maybe teams are wizening up to the reality of trading years of player control for a few months of a rental?

On how this draft’s shortcomings are overstated…

“No, we’re going to get players. I think every team is going to get a player. To me, it’s always an indication. When a lot of picks move, sometimes you say, ‘Okay, maybe we can’t get what we wanted.’ But, when only, I think, two teams have given up their first rounders for the upcoming draft, it might not be as exciting a top-end, but the first round depth looks pretty good from what I can attest (to) and what I’ve seen. Sometimes we think a draft is made by what is at the top, but also it can be (what’s available) through the first round that makes a really good draft.”

Hopefully the Senators find some value in the first few rounds. With the expected graduation of prospects like Colin White and Thomas Chabot to the parent roster, coupled with the Jonathan Dahlen trade to Vancouver, the Senators can use some more talent to fill out their prospect ranks.

On whether the Senators are in on any NCAA free agents…

“Yes, but there are some reports that are totally false about guys that we’re in (on). I think people know that we’ve always tried to go after college free agents. We always try to go after the better ones. Sometimes we don’t, but we have a list of, whether it’s five or seven guys that we talk to, sometimes people throw our names onto players that we’re not even interested in. I had the chance to… I thought I was going to see Colin White on the weekend, but I ended up going to see some college free agents – at which I knew where we are with Colin, so I think at the same time, it was an opportunity to see some of the better ones out there. We’re still going to pursue that, but at the same time, if we don’t get anyone, we’ll still be alright.”

The Senators haven’t hit on a good collegiate prospect in years, but with that said, Binghamton (or next year’s Belleville club) could desperately afford some decent prospect depth.

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