Of Profits, Politics and Performance.

Is Ottawa sitting in a sweet spot, a rose between two thorns, if you will?

If one were to take a moment to look to their left, and their right, they would notice two iconic teams mired in years of failure, rooted in a lack of focus.

To the west lies Toronto.  A team still struggling to make the post season after almost a decade of misses…a decade!  In Ottawa the revolt was on after missing once.  In Toronto the building remains full, the merchandise continues to fly off the shelves, and the talk remains about possibly making the post season.  Meanwhile companies are lining up to own the franchise, an epicly losing franchise, because even though they can’t win on the ice, they always perform at the box office.

Year after year the Toronto franchise insists winning is the best business move, yet, as the business grows, the winning doesn’t…actions speak louder than words, and in Toronto, the action is all on paper, not ice.

If you were to look East, one would notice the leagues most storied franchise, but a franchise that has been victimized by politics since it’s near bankruptcy in the 90’s.

In an effort to increase merchandising, the Habs management, under George Gillett, chose to market the team as a “francophone legacy”.  It worked…too well.  Now, as the masses clamour for contact with their francophone roots, the media has lept on board and, in an effort to sell papers, sold the masses a  red herring crisis, more suited to the halls of government, than the media room of the Bell Centre.

As the Canadiens burn, the francophone “fans” play the fiddle.

Meanwhile, here in Ottawa, all we worry about is winning.

And guess what…we are.


Follow Sensay on Twitter at @GNSensay


12 Responses to “Of Profits, Politics and Performance.”

  1. Quizzical Quorum Says:

    Sorry, article is lazy.

    Toronto finally cleaned house of its vets a few years ago. There isn’t a single vet on that team from its last playoff appearance. They are the youngest team in the league and most nights, an exciting one.

    Montreal is a culture and island unto itself.

    We’re caught in the middle. We have to coddle Alfredsson, Phillips, Neil and we have to be competitive night after night. I’m seeing mediocrity here to be honest. Always good enough to compete for a playoff spot but never good enough to win or bad enough to get a real pick. Hope I’m wrong.

    • You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but the fact the Leafs remain outside of a play-off position, again, after years or supposed rebuilding, speaks for itself.
      Montreal being an island of itself is my point, they’re obsessed with politics, and will gladly sacrifice the Habs to score political points…then complain about losing.
      As for mediocrity with the Sens, if this is the case, the record of the two others is downright horrid. How you could defend either the Leafs or Canadiens, but then point to Ottawa as “mediocre” is ludicrous, at best.

    • The Sens are 60-odd games into a rebuild (starting last seasons trade deadline), and the Leafs are how many seasons into their rebuild? I’ve lost count. Ottawa doesn’t have to be competitive every night. Pretty much every talking head said so, along with Murray and Melnyk when they decided to hit the reset button. The difference is they have been competitive, on the backs of the young talent in the system. That’s not caught in the middle. That’s progression. Something the Leafs and Habs have been missing for awhile now.

      • Yup.
        I still have no doubt the Sens will miss the post season this year (feel free to prove me wrong boys), but the team is playing hard everynight, and the franchise is solely focused on wins and competitiveness. As it should be.

  2. In one more game, the Sens have…one more win.
    The Leafs and Sens have nearly identical records. The Leafs may be struggling right now, just as the Sens were earlier in the year. Both teams have pieces that other teams would kill for, but both also have a lot of work to do.
    I don’t know what you expect, but the youngest team in the league doesn’t often dominate all year round.
    Montreal is struggling, but, like both the Leafs and Sens, they have excellent pieces as well.
    They are all at different stages of a rebuild. Toronto is just starting to show signs of what they can do, assuming prospects develop as planned, and a few more trades are made.
    Ottawa is a few years behind on the rebuild, and have some terrific pieces. Ottawa has more of a mix of veterans and youngsters, and still has a few years to go to replace that veteran presence on the top lines, namely Alfredsson, Gonchar and Phillips.
    Montreal is where the Leafs were in 2008, except with more pieces in place. They need to overhaul their core, with Price and Subban being the only untouchables.
    The streak Toronto on is unfortunate, but I would not be so quick to pat Ottawa on the back whilst shitting on Montreal and Toronto. Especially after such positive signs this year from the youngsters.
    I don’t take issue with what you write, rather the arrogant tone of it, if you will. All of these teams have their flaws, and you may wish to get a big higher in the standings before you shit all over a team you JUST passed in the standings.

    • Fair enough, but, and this is a phat but, the Sens are in the 1st year of their rebuid (as you pointed out), and have not even scratched the surface of their forward prospect pool. The Leafs have a much thinner propsect pool, a much higher (current) pay roll, and are years into the rebuild, after years of missing the post season, all while, at best, at almost as good as the Senators are (albeit right now, which means nothing with 41 games remaing).
      My point is that the fans of Toronto rabbidly support their team, to the point where a 4m/g player, with 5 games played to date, gets waived, and it’s a media shit-storm…meanwhile, the actual team is not even in a post season position, half-way through the year, after 71/2 years of being out f the post season! As the bucks role in, while the team loses, MLSE is not overly concerned.
      How the year ends vis-a-vis which of the Sens or Leafs (or both) finish in the post season, remains to be seen, but there’s no doubting, based upon seasons already in the books, which franchise is better at putting a winning product on the ice.

      • First year of rebuild? Absolutely. However, you also have to appreciate the influence of veterans on this team who, while contributing now, will not be part of the team when/if they become contenders. Daniel Alfredsson, one of the most important members of this team, is not a long term guy. Same could be said for Phillips, Gonchar, Anderson, although they are easily replaceable. If you don’t see how, aside from last year, the Leafs finished below Ottawa, then you honestly didn’t appreciate the state of the franchise in 2008. Apparently having Spezza and Alfredsson as your top forwards is better than Blake and Antropov…(Who knew?)
        Ottawa’s rebuild was also not starting from scratch, as Toronto’s was. Ottawa started with some pretty quality players. Compare that to the Leafs from 2008-2011, and you can see why the early years of Toronto’s rebuild were so bleak.
        I wouldn’t say Ottawa has a ‘much’ deeper forward prospect pool, if at all. Zibanejad and Puempel (maybe Silvferberg) are the only ones with top 6 upside. Toronto’s top forward prospects who project as top 6ers (Kadri, Frattin, Colborne) are, IMO, preferable to Ottawa’s group, largely because they are very close to being NHL ready. They also have some pretty decent guys who project as 3rd line grinder types, like Ross and Biggs.
        The payroll may be higher, but Karlsson’s contract is coming up, and if he gets 70+ points, he will roll in some serious dough.
        Comparing the two rebuilds is comparing apples and oranges, and is really not a measure of success for either team.

        • The Leafs too have had a number of highly paid veteran players, the fact they’ve failed to produce is not an excuse, but rather proof of a failed rebuild.
          Yes Spezza has been good, but so has Kessel, what is the excuse for such a high payroll witouth anything to show for it…you cannot just dismiss this fact. The team chose to pay high salaries for little or no contribution, thus failing to rebuild, while the Sens have chosen to develop players, and are outperforming the Leafs. There’s no disputing this fact, so why bother trying?
          This isn’t about what team you support, its about results…the Sens have shown results in one year, the Leafs have not, in 3 plus.
          As for the forward prospects…we’ll see, but I have no doubt I’ll be proven right in my prognostication.
          As far as not being able to compare them, sure you can, if you base it upon results, which is what any sports team basis their success…except Toronto ($$$) and Montreal (politics). Thanks for making my point.

          • My criticism of the comparison comes from the fact that the Leafs started with nothing, whereas the Sens started with Spezza, Alfredsson etc. So sure, you can pat yourself on the back for ‘turning it around’ so quickly, but any educated fan can see the reason behind that pretty clearly.
            The high pay roll? You mean this season? Because its pretty hard to get tangible results 40 games into the regular season. Unless of course you consider all the progress made this season with Kessel, Lupul and Phaneuf. If the Leafs have not shown ‘results’ this season, then neither has Ottawa. Unless that 2 points they hold on them is a massive threshold in your opinion…How can you look at Ottawa’s roster and say progress, then look at Toronto’s, holding two players who are a good game away from leading the league in scoring, as well as a young, deep blueline, and not say the same? If you wanna talk about indisputable facts, why don’t you check out some key comparison points…GF? TOR, GA? TOR, PP? TOR.
            The high paid veterans of the past two seasons have hardly been quality players. Komisarek, Beauchemin, and Armstrong were all stupid signings, just as Kovalev and Gonchar were.
            Also, we have to establish what we are talking about. Are you referring to the current rebuilding states the teams are in? Or the overall make up of the teams rosters?
            If it is the former, then, as I addressed earlier, of course the Sens are showing results, they had a much more solid foundation to build from. Turns out, building a house from the ground up takes longer than building a house from half way up…enlightening. After some long years, the Leafs are showing results as well, being 2 points behind St. Murray’s Ottawa Senators, and having some of the best scorers in the league, is, no matter what way you look at it, progress. To dispute that, would be showing a fundamental misunderstanding of the definition of progress.
            Who are these veterans you speak of? Lombardi, Komisarek and Armstrong I will give you, but other than that, the Leafs higher paid players have been playing like it. Kessel, Lupul, Connolly, Phaneuf, and Liles, all have been playing good, if not great hockey.

          • You just don’t get it. The “stupid” signing are the problem…you just gloss over them as if they don’t exist because now, 7 years into rebuilding, the Leafs are almost as good as the Sens in their first year of a rebuild!
            Yes Mich, Alfie and Spez have been good, and have eased the rebuild, just as the “stupid” signings by Burke stalled it…I really don’t see why that is hard to see, unless you choose not to.
            As for my original point, the fact you can simply overlook Burkes stupidity, and be happy with a chance to make the post season, after 7 years of missing, all while the Leafs roll in dough and losses…like I said, thanks for making my point.

  3. The rebuild has not been going on for 7 years. I guess you could say it started with Cliff Fletcher, but I would say it started with Burke. So that is just over 3 years. Look at the roster Burke had when he took over. You think he is going to turn that around in one year?
    Now, this is Murray’s 1st year of this ‘rebuild’, and he already has Spezza, Alfredsson, Michalek, and a breakout year from Karlsson. It is not like he added a bunch of pieces that turned the ship around right away, his top players are just performing as such.
    Prior to this year, the Leafs didn’t have top players, they were, and still are, acquiring them/developing them.
    Now, the Leafs too have top players that are performing as such, and look at that, they are in the playoffs.
    While it is true that the fans will go no matter what, to point to that as the only reason for the Leafs rebuild taking so long fails to appreciate that you don’t just go out and ‘get’ star players. It takes time. Remember when the Sens were shitty in the 90s? Yeah.
    Ottawa hasn’t turned it around because their franchise ‘demands’ winning, if it were that easy, other teams might do that. They turned it around quickly because they had a bunch of talented players left over from the past team, the Leafs did not.
    It is not like players as talented as Alfredsson and Spezza were on the market and Burke chose to go with Komisarek, Beauchemin and Armstrong, the UFA market has not been all that great the past few years. The fact that he was able to turn Beauchemin into one of the league’s top scorers and a young up and comer like Gardiner speaks to his savvyness. The Leafs were going to be a losing team one way or another in 2010 and 2011, they did not have enough talent. Burke did his best to build from NOTHING, but unfortunately, it took longer than two years. Now he has this team showing signs of life, and while making the post-season is only a first step, for the youngest team in the league, it is a big one.
    BTW; you never answered how the Sens going from a non-playoff spot was progress, but the Leafs doing the same wasn’t…
    Also; the difference between the two teams now is an OT loss, the Leafs have as many wins in less games.

    • Look, enough, you think the Leafs have done a good job at the rebuild, ok, I get it.
      Yes the Sens had good players, but these players were here when the team missed 2 of 4 years…so to now lean on them fr the current result lacks merit, unless you’re also willing to concede those “bad players’ on the Leafs that resulted in misses, before their eventual trades, could also have refurbished the Leafs, had they remained on the roster. You can’t have it both ways.
      The article was about how Montreal and Toronto continue to ignore the reality of failure, while still raking in the money, whereas Ottawa focuses primarily on winning. The records of these 3 clubs speaks volumes, and no amount of twisting and turning can ignore that basic fact.
      The fact you continue to try to ignore this fact only strengthens my entire point…the fact you fail to see that simply amuses me to no end.
      Thanks for that!
      ps, consider this that the last word, as neither of us have said anything new in several posts…we both have better things to do than engage in a circular arguments, right?
      And yes, as the owner of the blog, I have the right to the last word…unfair? maybe, but when you spend hours blogging your own site, you get the same privilege, lol!
      I say good luck to the Leafs, it only makes the game more entertaining, and that is the purpose of it all, even if it seems like something more at times.
      Thanks for the debate Greg, no hard feelings, it’s all in good fun, at least that’s how I give and take it.

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