Don't Call It a Comeback...
Ok so here's the deal.
I know it looks conveniently like I disappeared because the Sens were sucking harder than a Dyson vacuum but the reality is that real life circumstances have kept me busy and distracted to the point that writing fell off the priority table.
The problem is, I realized that writing helps me to relax and is something I supremely enjoy doing so it was counter-productive to let it slip.
The irony is that the gong show the Sens season became was prime fodder for writing, I actually have way more to say when things are going poorly because well I'm a cynical bastard at heart.
So let me start off on a new foot by recapping some of what I missed.
Where I was right
Antoine Vermette's days were numbered in Ottawa. After a brief display of energy at the end of the regular season, Vermette's playoff performance in Columbus was a complete bust, proving once again that Vermette is the most skilled yet talentless player in the NHL.
The Rangers would regret signing Wade Redden. All the Rangers needed to do was ask a Sens fan or two and we could have helped prevent what may go down as one of the worst signings in Rangers' history. Redden always has been overrated, even when he was in Ottawa, a product of getting top pairing minutes on a really great team.
Martin Gerber was the worst goaltender in Sens history...and that is saying a lot considering the goaltending pedigree in Ottawa. When Craig Billington and Damian Rhodes have you beat you should really just go back to making watches in Zurich. Which reminds me, the Leafs picking up Gerber was the smartest move Burke made this season, it ensured they would get a better draft pick than Ottawa.
Where I was wrong
The Sens missed the playoffs. This one was unexpected but I think the way the team ended the season provides me with some justification. Clearly there was a systems problem on the team under Hartsburg that compounded some confidence issues that were lingering.
Hartsburg's problem was that he was trying to implement a system that was all wrong for the players he had. You can't take a team two years removed from ripping up the league offensively and ask them to trap and forecheck with only one man.
What I missed
Here's a recap of the things I missed during my hiatus:
-The Sens traded Vermette to Columbus for Leclaire. Hard to judge this trade yet but Leclaire is certainly an upgrade in goal...not a difficult thing to accomplish but an upgrade nonetheless. I think I've made my feelings pretty clear on Vermette.
-Ottawa traded a first round pick (from San Jose) and Dean McAmmond to the Islanders for Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie. This trade is too early to call as well, at first I was excited to get Comrie back but he was largely a bust.
Campoli has potential but didn't impress me much. The outcome will depend on whether or not Comrie re-signs for less than $2 million and on the development of Campoli.
-Brian Murray uses up his last mulligan and hires Cory Clouston. I was skeptical in the beginning but I like the more aggressive style he had the team playing at the end of the season. Ottawa is still a young team so maybe going with a young coach is the right way to reach them.
-The Sens finished strong. Ottawa had the second best record in the NHL after hiring Clouston. Of course we all know that it is easier to play with no expectations, blah, blah, blah, but you could see that the change in style gave the team some extra jump. With a few roster tweaks the team should be back on track next season.
-Montreal did their best 2007-08 Ottawa Senators imitation. It really is kinda spooky how similar the Habs season was to the Sens season last year. Start off strong, get distracted by off ice issues, start sucking, limp into the playoffs, get swept.
To be fair, I never thought the Habs should be considered Cup favourites anyway, all the pundits got caught up in the 100th anniversary nonsense using flawed logic to somehow come to the conclusion that the Habs centennial meant anything on the ice....it didn't.
-San Jose did the Sens a favour. The Sharks annual flame-out came right on schedule as they lost in round one versus Anaheim, this ensures that the Sharks, and not the Sens, will go down as the biggest payoff chokers of the last decade. Thanks San Jose!
-Mats Sundin signed in Vancouver...and has largely been a bust. Vancouver would be in the exact same position they are in now with or without Sundin. Mats, your mommy is calling you, she says it is time to stop wasting everyone's time and retire.
So that's it for the recap, expect much more in the coming days and weeks as I return to writing on a regular basis, there are simply too many cynical comments to make to stay quiet.
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