Cue the Vultures

Sdrince the loss to the Leafs, the term rock bottom is getting thrown around more liberally than a Bruce Boudreau eff bomb or an errant Alexei Kovalev pass. Like the puck-moving defenceman before it, rock bottom appears to be the new “it” term used by those surrounding the Senators organization.

Thankfully, we can inevitably spend the next few days dwelling and wondering whether The Euge’s next public announcement will embarrass or re-energize the fan base.

Despite the long list of individuals who are vulnerable to blame, it’s interesting to note that in most (if not all) of the accredited media pieces that I have read of late, most are either dedicated to criticisms of veteran European players not named Daniel Alfredsson or they feature speculations that Cory Clouston has coached his last game behind a Senators bench.

For reasons that were finally disclosed by the Sun’s Don Brennan, Bryan Murray has typically escaped the media’s public criticisms.

Generally speaking, Bryan Murray’s moves have not worked out, and for that, he is to take his generous share of the blame. But for those who want owner Eugene Melnyk to dismiss Murray during this, the final year of his contract, forget it. Murray has Melnyk’s respect and his ear. He also has 30 years of NHL experience and a good birth certificate. Murray has his detractors, but he is a Shawville guy who also has very many friends in this region. For Melnyk to not allow him the dignity of finishing out what might be his last season in the game could turn into a huge public relations mistake.

(…)

Also, it should come not as a shock if the Senators remain with the status quo. There’s a chance that Melnyk has been convinced this mess is all the player’s doing, and that they’re simply being pulled down by the injuries and their own self doubts.

Status. Fucking. Quo.

Now there’s a line of thought that conflicts with the rumours that another Sun Media personality has heard.

There is all kinds of talk about the Ottawa Senators here at the World Junior tournament and none of it is good.

But this story is making the rounds with hockey pool: Word is, general manager Bryan Murray tried to fire coach Cory Clouston about a month ago. The Senators owner, Eugene Melynyk, wouldn’t let it happen. That story came to light in the wake of Ottawa’s 5-1 home defeat to the dreadful Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. Normally, after those kind of games, coaches get fired. But to date, no coach firing in Ottawa.

And there probably won’t be one until the end of the season.

The story going around is that Melynyk told Murray and if Clouston goes, he might as well go with him. Murray has already been through a bevy of coaches, including Craig Hartsburg and John Paddock. Apparently, Clouston will be his last coach. Unless Melynyk had a change of heart.

But expect this: Murray and Clouston both gone at the end of the season. ~ Steve Simmons, The Simmons Sports Zone

It’s not the first time I had heard the story, albeit, it feels like it has more legitimacy when it comes from an accredited member of the media. (Even if it is Steve Simmons.) However, it probably has more legs to it that Saturday night’s Twitter hoax that Matt Carkner beat up a Leafs fan inside Moxie’s.

The point is that in all likelihood, both Bryan Murray and Cory Clouston will be let go following the season. Not only are both in the last years of their respective contracts, neither are deserved of being retained. Ultimately, I’m left wondering whether Tim Murray is still being considered as the heir apparent to the GM role and if he isn’t, why is a lame duck regime permitted to exert control over the team’s direction as we head towards the NHL’s trade deadline.

Already the NHL rumour mill has begun to churn and as we learned from Pierre Lebrun during the Hockey Night in Canada Hotstove, the organization has fielded calls from other teams inquiring about Chris Phillips and Mike Fisher. Can we entrust this current group to do the right thing and approach the team’s veteran players to gauge whether or not they’re amenable to a trade?

Sure, maybe Tim Murray will inherit Bryan Murray’s job and be the Senators equivalent to Alex Anthopolous – who was a member of the JP Ricciardi braintrust and whose philosophical ideas for the direction of the Blue Jays differed from his boss. Or maybe he’ll be as loyal to core like his uncle is and will vainly spend to the cap threshold to vainly supplement the roster with overpaid veterans.

Until The Euge ends his conspicuous silence and informs us of which way this franchise is headed, we may not be at rock bottom but it feels like we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

A Thought on Moving Phillips

If management was able to draw a line in regards to the amount of money and term being thrown towards Anton Volchenkov last summer, sure as fuck this team better have the wherewithal not to invest a significant amount of years and money to an older, less effective defenceman in Chris Phillips on the principle basis that he has played 900 games for this organization.

Phillips, like many of the other veterans on the roster, is seeming to come to the realization that this organization isn’t on the verging of contending within the next one to three seasons. As such, he discussed his future with the organization at practice today.

“I hadn’t really given any thought to it, but obviously, at some point, there’s going to have to be some communication between myself and the team to see what their plans are, what my plans are, where I sit in the future, all that kind of stuff. I really don’t want to speculate on stuff that could potentially happen, that might not even be an option for me. I guess we’ll see what happens after that point when there is some talk.

“It’s a different situation for me, talking about it and it being a possibility, but it’s part of the game.”

“It’s a unique situation. I don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s lots of possibilities, asking you to waive it, or maybe they have offers on the table. Who knows? I’m realistic enough to know those are possibilities, but they’re not with me 24/7.”

Spezza Doesn’t Need Shoulder Surgery

Bad news for those in tank nation. Cory Clouston announced at today’s practice that Jason Spezza’s shoulder does not require surgery and as a result, the number one center will only miss the next 4 to 6 weeks.

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