The GM, the Coach or the Euge, Who's Holding Back Changes To the Ottawa Senators

Gerald NortonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2011

OTTAWA - MARCH 5:  Head coach Cory Clouston of the Ottawa Senators speaks to reporters following the game against the Edmonton Oilers on March 5, 2009 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

The beauty of being a fan is being able to work in the made up “perfect world."

We can analyse every trade, pick, signing, play and save, with the beauty of slow motion, hind-sight, but without all of the complicating variables, like reality.

But no player, coach or GM enjoys the same luxury, and we all need to remember this as we fume over our current real world as Sens fans.

And this surely includes myself.

I may have the occasional privilege of “inside” information, albeit very rarely from anyone inside the Senators, and never from anyone from high up, in any NHL organization.

And I may spend hours scouring the on-line “sources”, looking for areas of convergence, synthesize a lot of “rumours” and putting them back out to all of you to read, and criticize (lol) them.

But, apart from real inside information, I definitely lack real inside reality.  I only know how difficult it is to make trades and signings in this league based upon hindsight.

And hindsight, without all of the information surrounding the decision, is a terrible platform from which to prognosticate.

That all being said, here’s my prognostication, based upon those historical actions, rumours and “inside” information.

1. Murray honestly believed his young forwards would prove able to leverage the offensive talent of the remade, puck moving blue-line into more goals.

2. Murray believed Pascal Leclaire would be the No. 1 he thought he acquired for Vermette.

It is those two strategic misses that have burned the Senators.

I do not, for even an instant, believe he went into this season planning to trade his way into the roster he wants.  Nor do I believe this is even possible.

There are a lot of trade rumours out there, and this is because there is a lot of discussion out there, I know this to be true, but, for whatever reason(s) it is very, very hard to actually execute a trade in this league, unless you are willing to eat salary, as was done by MTL in the Wizer trade (he cost MTL a 2nd and a 5th).

Murray needs to move a player and get one back, and those trades rarely happen mid-season.

This is why we so often hear the “it has to come from within” refrain in the face of poor play.  Not because that’s what the GM wants, but because reality dictates it.

Next comes Kovalev.  I’ve openly called for his expulsion from the team, advocating addition by subtraction, making his exodus reward enough. 

Knowing Clouston, based upon his statements and actions, there is no way I believe he wants to keep playing Kovalev.  I believe, whole-heartedly, he wants Kovy out as much as I do.  I don’t know this, but I absolutely believe it.

But Kovalev continues to play and has actually been rewarded for his horrible work ethic by being elevated to the top line.

It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to see there’s something afoot when it comes to Kovalev and his status on this team.

But when it comes to Kovy, I do not know what is afoot, and it is killing me.  I feel like I’m sitting in the passenger seat of a car headed for a cliff, and the guy driving keeps saying, “I see it, but let’s just see how this is going to play out."

Barring a miracle, we all know what will happen, if things do not change NOW.  Like in the cliff analogy, even if the one in control finally accepts something must be done, by then, it may be too late, if it isn’t already.

If it is Murray keeping Kovalev on this roster, he needs to be fired.  I can suffer trades and signings not working out, but inaction for political reasons is a mortal sin.

If it is Melnyk keeping Kovalev on this roster, he needs to step back and allow those who can manage a team do so.  I respect what he has accomplished in business and respect the fact this is his team that he bought and paid for with his money, but if he needs fans to support him in this endeavor (which he does), he had better smarten up and direct his hubris, should this be the case to horse racing, where only he supports the whole show and alone suffers the losses of bad decisions.

In a perfect world, this team:

1. Gets Kovalev out of the dressing room, today.

2. Fill one key strategic skill set currently lacking from the roster, or prospect depth. An elite scoring winger.  The team has to either fill this role now or blow the team up, knowing drafting this sort of player and waiting for them to develop will take longer than any player on the roster will be around to play with him.  Apart from Spezza, Karlsson, Cowen, Wiercioch or Lehner, do what it takes to land this player or blow it up and leverage the young D into a full rebuild.  Keeping the prospects to play on a fundamentally flawed team, to continue finishing near middle of the pack, is futility.

I’m talking;

Iginla – Is he available? No, because he has a NMC, but don’t ask, don’t get.

Booth – Possibly, but it would cost first rounders and a top prospect, at least, I’d still do it if I believed in the D prospects and Lehner.

Parise – see above.

Nash – No, but if he isn’t, Filatov is.  With Johanson possibly ready to assume the long needed No. 1 centre role, Columbus will be loathe to not have someone for him to play with.  Filatov would be a lesser replacement, but he would be the best scoring winger this team would have.  But if Nash is available, get him.

Martin Havlat - After years of futility, maybe this team is ready to divest itself from long-term contracts and make a fresh start.

Again, if this cannot be accomplished, blow it up, there’s no other reasonable option.

However, according to recent Murray comments, it would probably be a deal/decision worked out by Melnyk himself.

Is this team being managed to death by the owner?

I sure hope not because if that is the case, the only thought that springs to mind is the “Toronto Maple Leafs."

I don’t say this to take a pot shot at Leaf fans, as I’m sure they would be the first to gladly see change themselves.

Eugene, if you are running this team, or even just meddling (yes, that is what it is) please, please, call Mike Ilitch, you know, the owner of the league's most consistent, and well run franchise, for a little guidance on how to build winning clubs.

Something stinks about this club, and the smell is getting worse everyday.


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