Where to start? With their anointed goalie savior Matt Murray waived and abandoned to minors after playing just one game since returning from COVID-19? Consider, just for a second, this two-time Stanley Cup champion was sidelined in a West Coast swing and didn’t even have the dignity to wait for the team to come home. They might as well have put a scarlet letter of shame at him. How frustrated must the organization be with Murray, 0-5 this season, to treat him like that? Murray was awarded a four-year, $ 25 million contract from CEO Pierre Dorion in October 2020.
Guess we shouldn’t lose sight of the five-game losing streak that has kept the Senators stranded on a nine-point record since the Nov. 13 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Ottawa got a week off after that game to deal with 10 listed COVID cases). The Senators lost all four games on that recent road trip, being outscored 21-10.
And then there are the sideshows. Captain Brady Tkachuk, who is fighting harder than he should, in a futile attempt to shoot his teammates, meddled with family nemesis Brendan Lemieux on Saturday and the Kings winger bit Tkachuk in the the right hand not once, but twice. If a person is said to be once bitten, twice shy, twice bitten, Tkachuk was anything but shy in his post-game comments on Saturday night. He called Lemieux a “joke” and “cheeky” and someone outside the league.
(Lemieux, the famous Claude’s son, will not be in the league for a while once his suspension is set by the NHL Security Department).
Tkachuk was not done there. He called Lemieux a “bad guy and a bad teammate”. Oh, and the supreme adjective – “a brick head”. And with that, said he would have nothing more to say on the subject. At least he emptied the tank.
That Tkachuk couldn’t be on the ice for most of Ottawa’s five-minute power play at the end of the third period, with one goal behind, was unfortunate. Tkachuk was serving two minor hard knocks as the refs threw the book at Lemieux. Overwhelmingly, senators
couldn’t score a goal in that five-minute advantage, while a goal, and gaining at least one point on the road trip, would have been something to cling to.
Fan reaction in Ottawa after a November 1-10-1 ranged from anger and frustration to desperation and apathy, with a select few preaching patience with a young roster.
The fact that fans were told during training camp that the “rebuilding is complete” helped “create” expectations that this could be a season in which the Senators threaten at least one playoff berth. playoffs. Even the most cautious members of the organization imagined the team trailing in the Atlantic Division race until the end of the second half, giving young players like Tim Stützle, Drake Batherson, Josh Norris, Tkachuk and others a meaningful gaming experience.
Instead, as America cleans up after the Thanksgiving holidays and Black Friday deals, Senators are about as well cooked as last Thursday’s turkeys south of the border. Traditionally, NHL teams take stock of their playoff chances at this point – and for three of Canada’s seven teams: Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal, the outlook is darker than grim. Sports Club Stats rates the Senators and Canadians’ playoff odds at less than one percent. The Canucks are at a 1.8 percent high rate.
The Canadians just cleaned the house on the weekend, firing Managing Director Marc Bergevin, Assistant Managing Director Trevor Timmins and Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications Paul Wilson. Timmins was a Senators scout and director of hockey operations in Ottawa for a long time before moving to Montreal.
In Vancouver, there is a lot of talk about potential changes at the GM or head coach level.
But in Ottawa, it’s like nothing has happened or nothing has happened, depending on everyone’s point of view. As the Eugene Melnkyk-owned team move into a fifth straight year of finishing in or near the league’s basement, not much has changed, and that won’t change for the time being.
Expectations in Montreal are so high that a trip to the Stanley Cup final last summer was not enough to save Bergevin in the final year of his contract.
In contrast, general manager Pierre Dorion and head coach DJ Smith both got contract extensions this fall, due to the promise of a solid end to the season last season by a young developing team. Dorion’s deal will take him through 2024-25, with a team option for another year.
Smith was given a two-year extension until the 2023-24 season.
Sometimes coaches and managers get fired. In a sudden turn, Melnyk could sour on his current squad. He might be wondering what is going on with the pro side of hockey operations, as the majority of veteran acquisitions achieve “bust” status.
Over the summer, Melnyk hired former broadcaster Pierre McGuire as senior vice president of player development, a move some saw as a potential threat to Dorion.
McGuire’s fingerprints were all over the Senators’ latest move, picking up center Adam Gaudette, 25, off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks. When he was a daily guest on Ottawa Sports Radio, McGuire raved about Gaudette, who won the 2018 Hobey Baker Award.
from the University of the Northeast.
Let’s see what the near future has in store for us, but for now things are on the status quo.
The Senators have a quiet start to the week before a flurry to end it. A home game against the Canucks on Wednesday, followed by a quick trip to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The Colorado Avalanche is at the Canadian Tire Center on Saturday.
There should be better news, finally, in the next few days. Ottawa’s top scorer Batherson is coming back from a long hiatus as he faces Covid-19 and Gaudette will take a look. Goalkeeper Filip Gustavsson has a chance to stabilize things in front of the net.
Maybe the Senators can win a game and change the subject, even for a day.