Well, that wasn’t exactly the most memorable weekend for a maligned Senators team. After blowing two more third period leads against the Avalanche and Capitals, it’s the same old hat with these Senators. Some say it’s the youth’s fault. Others believe that it’s the veteran stars. Sergei Gonchar is the latest casualty in the blame game.
In one of today’s Ottawa Sun headlines, defenceman Sergei Gonchar was referred to as a colossal flop. The author of the article was a man who spends as much time talking about Zenon Konopka or conjuring up new nicknames for hockey players as he does, I suppose it was only a matter of time before Gonchar was being referred to as a colossal disappointment in just 35 regular season games.
Don’t get me wrong, Sergei Gonchar’s performance has left much to be desired. Despite having the 29th highest point production amongst defencemen, leaving the cosy confines of the Pittsburgh Penguins first unit power play hasn’t helped. Yet despite a drop in production, according to some advanced hockey sabermetrics, Gonchar has a goals versus threshold rating of 1.9, while his partner for the bulk of the season, Chris Phillips, has a team worst -1.0. And it sure hasn’t helped that the rest of his defensive cast, Karlsson notwithstanding, is uglier than the love child of Dee Snyder and Sarah Jessica Parker. As such, Gonchar leads the team in average ice-time per game at 24 minutes and 40 seconds and risks having his lack of foot speed, which is slower than an Alexei Kovalev backcheck, exposed.
Yet, everyone seems willingly content to place the blame on the individuals. If your significant other showed up to a dinner date wearing $2,500 earrings, Birkenstocks and a paper bag, would you blame the earrings?
You’d blame your wife’s decision making for her collective look. And that’s where we’re at with the Ottawa Senators. Bryan Murray and his brain-trust completely overvalued this group of players and deserve to be blamed for thinking that a player like Gonchar could come in and compliment these guys. Or for thinking that Gonchar’s shortcoming wouldn’t manifest here in Ottawa. It’s not like his weaknesses as a player weren’t identified by the organization before signing him. They’re well known and documented around league circles. Unfortunately, as we progress through this season, it’s becoming evidently clear that older players like Alfredsson, Phillips and Gonchar are no longer capable of carrying a team. In order for these players to be effective, they need to be supported by something other than Birkenstocks and a paper bag.
For the past three and a half seasons, Senators fans have had to sit down and endure the Bryan Murray plan – to remain competitive while restocking the cupboards that were left barren by John Muckler. Well, this club might look old, uninspired and complacent but they sure as shit don’t look any more competitive than they did three years ago when Bryan Murray inherited this team – Regardless of all the false hope that Eugene Melnyk will gladly shove down our throats.
I probably should have complained about this when the 2010-11 NHL regular season schedule was released but I admit, I didn’t really care about it at the time. Now that it’s been almost three weeks since the Senators played their last Saturday night game (Dec 4th) and I sit here looking at January’s schedule that features only two saturday games, I’ll make like a HFboards forum poster and reserve the right to bitch about Ottawa’s schedule in retrospect. What the fuck guys?
And speaking of the scheduling, did Carrie Underwood slip the NHL schedule makers a $50 to book the Senators to play in Nashville before the holidays? Oh Mike, look at how nice it is for you to play so close to home. And note, if Mike Fisher has the game of his life on Thursday night, I may throw up into my mouth a little bit.