What To Do?
So here’s the thing, now that the Sens are back in the win column, back in the play-off hunt, and doing it with the help of some young talent, the reasonable next squestion is “So, who’s going sit?”
Big Zach has proven to have real legitimate role player talent.
Now, let’s not make a mountain out of a mole hill, but when a team has specific skill needs, but little cap space with which to address them, having a player in your line-up you can count on to play 10 minutes a game, provide some grit, and play the PK in a pinch, for under a million, it’s a big deal.
Having the same, for 3M, is an anchor.
And this is where it gets dicey. I think Jonathan Cheechoo is a fantastic guy. He is a great representative of the native community, a great representative of Canada, pro athletes, and the Senators. These are unassailable fact. Cheech is a great “team” guy who delivers solid effort every shift, supports his team mates, and brings a positive attitude to the dressing room.
But his play on the ice, for all of his effort, is that of a one dimensional 4th liner. The truth is Jonathan no longer has the speed to do what he does best, score. So, what does he do? He doesn’t kill penalties, he doesn’t fight, or deliver crushing hits, and he doesn’t play on the PP (although, if I were coach, I’d park him in front of the net on the second PP unit with Kovy and Shannon).
Ask yourselves, Sens fans, what does Cheech bring that Smith does not?
In my opinion, nothing, apart from experience, but even that, come post season time, is not worth much.
If this team is in a re-group phase, which I wholeheartedly believe to be the case, especially after the loss of Heatley, why not use this time to develop your young talent?
In order to do this, the cold hard fact is Cheech would have to be sent to the AHL. It seems a mean-spirited thing to do, but is it more fair to send Zach Smith down instead, when he can provide more to the club?
Honestly, why would it be fair to force Smith to remain in the A, but un-fair to ask the same of Cheech?
There is a belief out there that to make such a move, with a veteran player, would leave a black mark against the Sens organization in the eyes of the NHLPA, and that may well be so, but that still doesn’t make it “fair”.
I don’t want to send Cheech down, I want him to earn his 3M in cap space, in the NHL. If he can’t do that, it’s not the fault of the Senators, hell, it’s not even the fault of Cheechoo, but it is the reality nonetheless, and the Sens, the NHLPA, and Cheech himself should have the maturity, integrity, and professionalism to accept it for what it is.
No matter what happens, Cheech will be a very rich man, and playing him in the NHL, just because you have to pay him, would be like finishing a bad meal, because it’s already paid for. What’s done is done, and if you can’t send it back, you may as well cut your losses and move on.
Ultimately I’d love to see Cheech re-discover his game, I’ve hoped for it all season, but now, with the emergeance of Smith, it’s no longer reasonable to wait (hope), when a very real alternative is available. It’s time to swallow the last bitter bite, put down the fork, and pay the bill.
Yeah it would cost Melnyk some money, but not much, only about 190k. But it would free up over 900k in cap space, or the equivalent of a 2.38M/yr player for the remainder of the season.
That’s enough to accomodate a Cogliano or Smid. Either of those would be well worth a middling prospect and 2nd rnd pick, either of those would help this team now, and into the future.