If the News Makes You Sad, Don’t Listen To It

Much like an eastern wind that sweeps the acrid smell from the Carp dump towards ScotiaBank Place, the stench of last summer’s Dany Heatley fiasco has come back to hit Sens fans in the face. So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the city of Ottawa is in a state of flux as fans worry that Jason Spezza was so distraught over being booed in the postseason that he may or may not have asked to be dealt.

Everyone is sweating out the hypothetical details: Did Jason ask for a trade? What’s his worth? Can Ottawa afford to trade their number one center? And my personal favorite, is the city of Ottawa destined to be like Edmonton – a place where no one seems to stay?

Knee jerk panic has set in and it wouldn’t be the first time. I think Tim put it best in an email that he sent to me shortly after the first Bruce Garrioch article ran. Here’s a snippet:

Is the whole city on acid or something and I missed drop day? I’m reading all this Spezza, well lets call it what it is, bullshit and I can’t believe what I’m seeing. People are actually saying he should not be traded?

It’s my understanding trades take place between a minimum of two teams, implying(save for a total fleece)that we would receive a player or two in return. It might help to know what you’re getting back in return before drawing a line in the sand and insisting we not trade the guy. I mean I hate to pull the Gretzky card but this is Jason Spezza we’re talking about here. At the end of the day if there’s an offer you can’t refuse then it shouldn’t even be up for debate. Whether a trade happens through a trade request or simply kicking tires and gauging value it shouldn’t matter. You would hope that Bryan Murray understands the worth of his players around the league.

This is just insanity that people are so up in arms about a theoretical trade with no determined return. The best part is that all the resurgent Spezza lovers keep pulling the high and mighty card with that Garrioch article and act like he’s the hack while they shit their pants nailing themselves to the cross for this guy when there’s no cause for it.

To this point, all that we know is that Jason sat down at an end of the year discussion with the general manager and discussed his frustration with being booed during the playoffs. And according to a report today, Spezza didn’t appreciate Murray going public about their player-exit chat.

Frankly, I think that the Murray/Spezza sit down likely turned out in one of following ways:

1) Spezza directly asked for a trade. If the case, both sides have learned from the Heatley situation and seem to be handling it quite well.

2) With his NTC set to kick in on July 1st and having been upset with the treatment from the fans, Bryan Murray asks Spezza if he wants to be moved. Spezza tells Murray to explore his options and Murray responds by saying that he’ll perform his due diligence, but if there’s not a deal to his liking, he’ll keep Jason.

3) Jason never asked for a trade.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of moving Spezza:

Pros:
1) Peter Regin flourished on his wing.
2) First line centers are difficult to come by and take time to develop. Ottawa doesn’t have another center in the pipeline or on their current roster who could fulfill Spezza’s role within the foreseeable future.
3) Ottawa doesn’t lose their most prolific offensive talent.
4) Questionable market value for him. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson has already advocated an offer of Penner/Smid and one of Gagner/Cogliano for Spezza.

Cons:
1) The risk of Spezza’s NTC kicking in and limiting the market in the event of a future trade request.
2) He has a history of having back problems.
3) The mainstream media would have to find a new lightning rod of criticism. (Ed. note: Pascal Leclaire, come on down!)

As easy as it is to say that the team’s highest paid player should have the ego to absorb some of the blame, Jason’s always struck me as a very public and candid individual who speaks his mind. Whether it was his highly publicized wedding or his willingness to comment on Dany Heatley’s trade request, he’s repeatedly put himself out there. (Ed. note: And given his infamous YouTube laugh track or how poorly his Jubillee Jeweller commercials have turned out, I can’t help but imagine that he has thicker skin than people give him credit for.) By stating that he was disappointed with how he was treated by the fans and media during the playoffs, it’s not helping matters that fans are freaking out and are inadvertently helping to perpetuate these rumours. That being said, Ottawa as a hockey market is just like any other Canadian city. When the team isn’t successful, it can be a difficult place to play. On the free agent market, we can’t fool ourselves as fans. For a Canadian city to attract premier talent, it has to do one of two things — be a winning franchise or overpay for a player’s services. When all money is equal, players are inevitably going to pursue warm weather climates, big markets and privacy. Like Wayne Scanlan mentioned in an article this morning, with friends like Emery and Heatley, they just might be telling his pal to jump into the trade pool, the water’s fine.

Unfortunately, for greater or worse, Ottawa’s a hockey market right now that’s starving for any kind of news that we can get our hands on. The fact that Mike Brodeur’s Stanley Cup commentary on his former organization made the Ottawa Sun’s front page is testament to how desperate this city is for any kind of news. And while a potential Spezza trade makes for good water cooler discussion, I can’t help but feel like this situation is being completely overblown. Until Spezza makes a formal and public trade request, let’s all take a deep breath and relax.

Armchair GM

Speaking of Brodeur, the man needs to spend some significant time in the NHL. And no, not because I’m one of those fans who gives him way too much credit for his 3-0 record last season and for helping to kick start Ottawa’s 11-game winning streak during the middle of the season. I realize that with the success that Dustin Byfuglien has had this postseason, there will likely be a new fad to find a cheap alternative, but in comments made to Don Brennan that ran on Off the Posts, he needs to play at the NHL level to gain a little perspective.

If Senators goalie Mike Brodeur were a GM, he’d do what he could to land Graham Mink.

A 6-foot-3, 220-pound winger with the Rochester Americans, the just-turned 31-year-old winger reminds Brodeur of his good friend Dustin Byfuglien.

“I think he’s the most effective player I’ve ever played against, the way he screens the goalie on the power play and positions himself,” said Brodeur. “It’s nearly impossible to see around him.

“He’s the kind of guy I’d love to have on our team.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of anyone who takes the time to teach Don Brennan an armchair GM strategy that doesn’t involve acquiring local products or former Ottawa 67′s, but even this is a bit too much.

A Little Mendes Goes A Long Way

Via Twitter, Ian Mendes has let his followers know that the Senators are now gauging the market to see if any team is willing to trade for Anton Volchenkov’s exclusive negotiation rights before July 1st. He also mentioned that Bryan Murray isn’t interested in trading Jason Spezza.

Podcast News

For the past few weeks we haven’t done the podcasts but I’m hoping to jump back into the studios next week. So keep an eye out for that.

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