For those of you not aware, Senators season ticket holders were recently offered the chance to grill the Ottawa’s brass with a number of questions. Thanks to Sportsnet forums poster CrazyIvan, we were able to get some insight into what was said during the duration of the conference call. The conference call itself seemed to be quite informative. Let’s take a look at the highlights:
Roy Mlakar/Jeff Kyle (public relations/promotional stuff):
Roy Mlakar basically begs for season ticket holders not to give up on this ‘good group’ after a few disappointing seasons. The Sens “fans first “ initiative which includes more access to players and team brass, draws for season ticket renewals and “deals” on season tickets (2% savings if paid by certain date, payment plans, 6 ‘free’ games for full season ticket holders). After seeing many empty seats in the cheapest sections in the rink, it definitely is time for Ottawa to put the fans first because whether it’s a lack of success or the economy or a mixture, the Sens just aren’t drawing like they did only a few years ago.
Praises the competitiveness of the Baby Sens and Cory Clouston’s role in developing many of the young players on that team. He thinks that Mattias Karlesson will get a shot in the NHL this season and that Erik is an NHL talent but needs to get stronger and faster in order to become a productive NHL defenseman. Matthias should have been given a shot in January, but late is better than never. Erik is small, but many puck movers are small and are effective for their teams. He’s also stated that his plan is to play one more year in Sweden, but I’m sure when he gets his contract Erik will be more than happy to make the trip across the Atlantic.
Murray’s rationale for trading for Pascale Leclaire is pretty obvious. Brian Elliott has been given a string of NHL starts, and he just isn’t ready to be a full time number one goalie. In Leclaire the Sens have a former top 10 pick and blue chip prospect that has shown flashes of brilliance in his career when he hasn’t been sidelined due to injury. Leclaire is apparently excited to come to a hockey market and has some ties to Ottawa already. The acquisition of Leclaire also allows for Brian Elliott to take his time and develop further in the AHL or as a backup in the NHL. Also, the second round pick in the deal was compensation for Leclaire’s injury. Leclaire is the most talented goalie the Senators have ever had (next to Hasek, but when he was a Senator he was a frail fucking old man). Oh, and Murray was pissed off that the deal was leaked before it was made official, but hey, all the better for us watching TSN.
Murray’s dealings with Kuba and Neil were also mentioned. He says he wanted to sign Kuba all along, but just had to see what the price would end up. I’m not a huge fan of the signing personally, but having said that, ‘elite’ puckmovers are few and far between. Murray still thinks that a deal with Chris Neil can be worked out. I think Murray got too greedy when trying to maximize his return for Neil and really fucked the dog. There is only a slight chance that Chris Neil is coming back, should have got what was possible and not shot for whatever it was he was wanting in return.
Murray believes the core of this team will rebound as will the rest of the team. Most likely the team will rebound for a somewhat respectable season next year. He took the time to call out Mike Fisher by name, saying that he has to produce more. Really, Fisher needs to produce more? No shit, when you’re a 4 plus million dollar cap hit, you better either be scoring goals, stopping pucks or playing tight D.
There is an overall sentiment that he strongly believes in the players that are in Ottawa right now and that they are only a few pieces away from being a true contender again. In the new NHL every team is only a few players from getting over the top but attracting those players and addressing all those needs under a salary cap is a daunting task.
Murray mentions that he still thinks the team needs top six forward and a top defenseman. He even goes as far to say that this summer he’ll be in hot persuit of a defenseman from Florida, gee I wonder who that could be. Murray as also fast to say that he may have to move a big salary to do so, and the only salary which seems to fit that one is of course, Jason Spezza. Spezza if he’s moved will most likely be moved in order to address secondary scoring with affordable young players and for cap space.
It’s clear that Ottawa’s brass remains confident in the team that it has assembled and that things will be better in the near future. Whether or not the current makeup of the team can accomplish the feat of returning the Senators back to respectability has yet to be seen.
The fans first initiative is taking some steps in the right direction, but even with tickets frozen at their current prices, it won’t fill those empty seats. The benefits are for the most part going to those who have the money to afford season tickets, not the casual fan.
No matter what Bryan Murray says about signing Kuba and failing to trade Neil, we won’t be able to gauge it as a success or failure until we see if Neil can be resigned for less before free agency and how Kuba plays in his new deal. Although, upping salary at a deadline in which a team should be rebuilding is mildy alarming.
The whole “defenseman from Florida” comment is hilarious but seriously, if Bouwmeester can be signed and Spezza moved for affordable young players, do you do it?