Now What? – The Options

Well, there’s no use in dancing around the point now.

3 coaches, 2 post season misses, and two 1st round exits, since the Stanley Cup finals appearance in 06/07.

The window is slammed shut, locked, and painted over.

Now what?

This franchise may be young, particularly in relation to those on their flanks (TOR/MTL), but they are a franchise built on excellence.  In the clubs short (redux) tenure in the NHL, they have achieved Presidents trophy performances, division titles, conference titles, and a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup.

Yes the formative years were tough, but this is to be expected of a nascent franchise, in any professional sport.  The fact these successes were achieved in the face of ownership changes, and bankruptcies (including players voluntarily deferring payment) is all the more impressive.

This is a team with a culture of winning, and a fanbase who expect above average performances.

There’s no shame in demanding success, and no fan should feel bad about doing so.  We hold this team to a high standard of performance, and I for one will not lower it, for the sake of complacency

I expect this team to win every game, every – single – game.

But, this isn’t to say I don’t recognize the cyclical nature of the NHL  Team performance will undergo ebbs and flows.  We’ve enjoyed the flow, now it’s time to embrace the ebb.

We, as real fans, must embrace change, but not losing, and that is a critical distinction.

This is the important, fundamental truth of being a Senators fan, winning matters.  We don’t like winning, we expect it, and as a whole we should never, ever, not expect it, no matter the development stage of the team.

There can be no excuses for losing, only reasons.  As fans, we can consider the reasons for a loss, and consider the ways to address them, but we can never accept an excuse for losing.

Some might point to this view as “bandwagon” fandom.  I call BS.  I’m not abandoning this team if they lose, but I’m also not going to sit idly by and make excuses, or worse, ignore it in favour of protecting my nefarious “die-hard” membership.

Losing, like winning, is a culture.  We fans must not allow this franchise to accept losing, we must demand the best in order to achieve it, through thick and thin.

I’m not promoting booing the team off the ice, or turning away from the team, I’m promoting actively talking about winning, and what is required to get there.  I’m promoting holding the management and players accountable by never acquiescing about the need to win every game.

Yes it’s a high bar, and it may hurt to hold it up, but a real fan never accepts losing.

So how do we get back into the win column?  Typically there are two options, re-build, and re-tool.

Re-build can be a very long process, and requires multiple years with bottom ten finishes, and a complete exodus of any short-term talent in return for prospects or picks.

How would it look on the Senators, assuming all trades netted picks or un-NHL ready prospects?

Foligno – Regin – Michalek

Greening – O’Brien – Condra

Winchester – Smith – Keller

Dziurzynski – Bass – Lessard

Hale – Campoli

Carkner – Karlsson

Lee – Schira

Trade – Spezza (LMC), Alfredsson (LMC), Phillips (LMC), Kelly, Neil, Ruutu.

Trade/Walk Away – Kovalev, Shannon.

Trade/Buy-out – Gonchar (LMC), Kuba

That line up would get killed over an 82 game schedule, likely earning another top 5 pick, exactly what you want for a full re-build, just ask LA or CHI.

The defensive prospects, with the exception of Karlsson, would remain sheilded in the AHL for at least one year (Cowen, Rundblad, Wiercioch, Gryba, Blood).

Forward prospects (Petersson, Silferberg, Caporusso, Culek) would play in the AHL, replacing those graduated to the NHL.

Now, that is a complete tear down/re-build, and highly unlikely.

So, what would a strategic rebuild look like (IMO)?

Foligno – Spezza – Michalek

Regin – Fisher – Alfredsson

Winchester – Smith – Keller

Dziurzynski – Bass – Lessard

Gonchar – Karlsson

Cowen – Campoli

Carkner – Lee

Trade – Kelly, Neil, Ruutu, Phillips.

Trade/Walk-Away – Kovalev, Shannon.

Trade/Buy-out – Kuba.

Still not much to look at, and not a great deal of change either, but no doubt some picks from the trade list.

The next option is the re-tool.  This means strategically trading replaceable assets, with league value, in return for picks or prospects, assets, then using the available cap space to sign some UFA’s

For Example (only an example!)

Parise (Kelly + Regin) – Spezza – Michalek

Wheeler (Phillips + Foligno) – Fisher – Alfredsson

Winchester – Smith – Neil

Silfverberg – Bass – Greening

Grossman (Gonchar + Lee + Butler) – Karlsson

Kuba – Bogosian (Wiercioch, O’Brien)

Carkner – Cowen

Rundblad, Gryba

Goaltender -UFA (Vokoun, Bryz, Niemi, Karlsson)

Leclaire (yes, seriously, he’ll sign for nothing, and he has to be healthy eventually!)

Trade for picks (if possible): Ruutu, Shannon, Kovalev, Campoli.

Would this re-tool, combined with this seasons top pick, and existing prospects “fix” the Sens for the long term?

A very tough call.



8 Responses to “Now What? – The Options”

  1. IMO We arent as far off as our record suggests. I agree with a retool get rid of aging contracts and try to pick up one player. We should target a goalie from a team with depth. I am curious to see what Boston does with their goalies, be nice to steal one. Vokoun is a great option, even Anderson would be alright. Nashville is also deep. We need one of those top 3 forwards and bad. A lot of people are willing to lose Phillips, I am not one of them. I personally think he would be a perfect mentor for Cowen. It would give us a potential shutdown pairing, which is where we get the most out of Phillips. Also he is one of a few people in the league that wants to play in one city, those people are hard to find. He and Cowen have similar paths, small town western boys. Could reinvigorate him and get him to the level we are used to. Awhile ago I was all for potentially losing Michalek as I couldnt remember how good he is. Seeing him these last couple games, we need to keep him. Fisher, Alfie and him are a great second line. Maybe if Regin can play centre there then we could use him there. Put Fisher in more of a checking roll on the third. Butler is close so we need a winger to play with him and Spezza. Fill out the third and fourth with Kelly Neil and young players. We see what this team can play like in spurts but it is the mental side they struggle with, some new blood is needed to wake the guys up again and shake the foundation. Make guys fear for there jobs. This maybe a stupid question but I dont hear about sports psychologists as much in the NHL as we do in the Olympics. We need the best one. BADLY. We are a team out of balance, I think next year we will compete for a spot and the year after that we will be similar to Dallas. I guess I didnt leave space for Foligno, if him and Regin dont take a spot on the top 2 then they may have to go, whoever hasnt played the best. Regin is tough to lose as he has proven to be a big goal scorer and those guys are great to have. He rises to the occasion, but Foligno has a better pedigree. I dont know who I would pick, that is probably going to be the tough decision. Maybe we could get a decent pick for Gonch.

  2. You lost me with the fantasy bit. One thing you’ll never see Senschirp do (not the be-all, end-all by any means, but definitely at the peak of current Sens bloggers) is post fantasy trades of his own design. His site is overloaded with them, but they aren’t his.

    What you wrote in the first half of this post was some of the finest stuff I’ve seen on this or any Sens blog in all my time reading them. You are a good writter, but the super fan in you detracts from the respectability of your efforts.

    I don’t intend this reply as confrontational or incendiary. I simply felt like voicing my opinion. As I read through the first half of the post, I felt more and more compelled to laud the effort; by the end of it, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to post anything at all.

    There’s validity to the idea that a rebuild would leave a frustratingly unskilled roster to watch for a period of time (although yours is well beyond a realistic extreme); however, there’s no value in describing the minutia of an unlikely hypothetical.

    Writing and Analysis like you displayed in the first half would make you one of the most well-respected Sens writers out there; speculation and hypothetical BS like you displayed in the second half effectively does the opposite.

    My 2 cents.

  3. Thanks Mike.
    IMO, Chirp does little more than repost info from media sites, who post it first, I rarely read anything insightful, or personal from him.
    Reading Chirp is like reading a stack of headlines, with no information or analysis, IMO.
    This is MY blog, as a fan, not an attempt at being a “news-breaker/insider”.
    I do post rumours, as I get them, because it is entertaining, not because I am any sort of insider.
    I try to add insight, ideas, of my own, that was my attempt by including names/trades/signings. It seemed, to me, more interesting than
    ??? – Spezza – ???.
    To me, if I were reading that, my first thought would be, so who the hell could ??? be?
    But to each their own.
    If you prefer “just the facts”, then there are tonnes of blogs out there chasing each other for fabricated “firsts”, that are nothing more than bloggers following twitter feeds then rushing them into brief blog postings, in an attempt to look like a news breaker.

  4. To me, those “???” are simply an admission that anyone could conceivably take those spots.

    Let’s take your example “??? – Spezza – ???” and look at the multitude of names that could fill those spots next season: Alfredsson, Michalek, Regin, Kovalev, Fisher, Kelly, Foligno, Shannon, Butler, Silfverberg, Greening, Hoffman, Wick. And that’s what we have available and/or what we’ve seen recently in just our organization. Then you get into the Semin’s and the Boyes’ and the

    My own analysis of the situation?
    Unless Alfredsson goes back to pre-2010-11 form, he is no longer a #1 RW;
    Unless Michalek is placed back on his natural wing (RW) and continues to play as he has in the past two weeks, he is a 2nd line winger;
    Unless Butler magically becomes a rookie scoring sensation, he needs more time earning his way up the roster;
    Unless Fisher becomes willing to move to the wing (where some argue he belongs) he will always be a borderline #2 C or a too-good #3 C;
    Foligno needs to prove he can be a top-6 forward for more than 10 games before I’ll believe he is one;
    Regin is in a hardcore sophomore slump and despite his more dynamic skillset than Foligno, he also needs to prove the same;
    Kelly can play anywhere in the lineup but his offensive output probably tops out at 50.
    Shannon is way too hit-and-miss to be expected to fill that spot on any consistent basis.
    The rest are too young/inexperienced or too old/disapassionate (Kovalev) to be considered.

    We have players that could conceivably fill a top-line role, but we only have one legit top-line forward and he needs someone to pass to. WE could go outside for that, but that is expensive and may not make sense in a retool/rebuild/whatever this is they are doing.

    There’s so many moving parts and different possibilities that its just nonsense Imo to be any more specific than saying something like “they need first line talent” or “they need a #1 in net”.

    Ideas like Parise for Kelly and Regin (unreal underpayment…not happening) or Wheeler for Phillips and Foligno (unreal overpayment…not happening) are better left to NHL11 and the ridiculous trade proposals found on HF. You say it’s only an example and that’s fine but my point is that it doesn’t belong in the same post as what you wrote in the first half (still impressed with it).

    I’m also still impressed/amazed at the tanking-est tank roster of all time!! That team would win 10 games! It wouldn’t be a bottom-5 pick. It would be a slam dunk 1st overall! Where’s Cowen in it though? Gotta think he could crack that lineup…

    • Sure it belongs, it’s hockey talk.
      You would prefer I just say; well, Sens are not good right now, but, if they can get better players, they could be better in the future. Until it happens, there’s no use talking about it beyond that.
      Wow, that was so intriguing, wasn’t it?
      You’re telling me you restrict any and all cof your onversation to absolute known fact, no speculation, no forecasting?
      Wow, that must be some awfuly short conversation, not to mention boring as hell.
      I for one like to know what is out there, roll it around, have fun with it. You like to not dwell on anything that isn’t known, restrict conversation to what has happened, not what might.
      To each their own.
      The rebuild team is an example for all those “trade everyone” fans…obviously, as I stated, unrealistic.
      It’s talk, that’s all, enjoy it, or move on, whatever, but I’m not about to restrict all conversation to simply regurgitating big media quotes…hell, even they speculate!


  5. They don’t speculate by trading half the current roster in 4 seperate deals. That is pure EA Sports stuff. If you find it enjoyable, feel free to continue.

    Saying something like “let’s sign Richards when (if) he becomes UFA this off-season” is relatively valid, but how is saying let’s upgrade in 4 positions with 4 seperate trades (3 of which are in Conference; 1 using depth to acquire a 26 year old soon-to-be RFA franchise winger) valid conversation? The idea that Parise becomes available (for that package, no less) because NJ has cap issues is absolute homerism and nonsense. They will trade 12 of the 14 players on their roster (that’s a joke) before they get rid of him or let him get snatched up.

    If you enjoy it, great. It’s your blog. Do what you want. All I was saying is that a) I still haven’t fully read that part of your post, and b) it stands in direct contrast to the first half of the post.

    Whatever though. I didn’t start posting with the intention of changing your opinion on the second half. I simply felt the need to applaud the first half. Next time I’ll leave it at that.

    • Mike, they are EXAMPLES, not proposals, or anything like that, just spit balling, relax man, you seriously need to chill.

  6. What tone are you inferring in my posts? I’m quite explicit in what I’m saying and there’s no aggravation on my end.

    That being said, I now get what you did there. Examples of three extremes: Trading everyone, bringing in no one new, making a massive overhaul. I get it. Makes sense. I think it was the detail to explain it that confused me. It appeared to be emotional and homerish. I understand the spirit behind it now.

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