For the past couple of years, during the down-cycle of the Senators, I’ve had renewed respect for those teams able to scratch out wins, with less than star studded rosters.
I waited, hoping, that the Sens would soon become one of these teams. Even with players such as Alfredsson, Spezza, Fisher, Heatley, Phillips, and Volchenkov, this team still seemed unable to beat opposition sporting less spectacular rosters. Well, maybe the tide has turned. Maybe too much ice time, and expectation was being placed on too few. Maybe a team struggled because it wasn’t a team, more a collection of also rans around a core of named players.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a tonne of respect for both Alfredsson and Spezza, I think they are tremendous players, and very good citizens, but for the last few seasons they’ve been given a larger role than maybe they required. I doubt, unlike Heatley, this was to do with a demand on their parts, rather it was likely more a result of desperation. Instead of responding to adversity by spreading out the responsibility for winning, making everyone feel a part of the team, a couple of coaches instead leaned heavily on a few.
But now, for various reasons, those few are not here to be relied upon, and instead of losing in their absence, the team is winning. The pure definition of addition by subtraction. Again, I’m not saying this team will not be better for having Foligno, Spezza and Alfie back, but having the entire team feel engaged, responsible and capable is the key to any team having success.
I’m not about to believe or suggest the Sens will roll without such key players in the line-up, there will no doubt be hiccups, but if this adversity brings the roster closer, making each individual feel more a critical part of the team, then a solid foundation will be layed for the return of Alfie and Spezza.