The Sunday Soapbox: Please Return Your Torches And Pitchforks To Their Upright And Locked Positions

Hey, here’s a thought.  How about NOT firing Cory Clouston?

NO WAIT! COME BACK!  Hear me out.

Had someone come to me a month ago and said that very thing, I would have quickly taken away their scissors and had them involuntarily committed as a danger to themselves and others.  Let them spout their nonsense in crayon festooned letters to the editor, says I!  We need a coach dammit!  But then a funny thing happened on the way to Ken Hitchcock’s party palace.  The Sens started playing hockey.  Okay, so maybe they didn’t start winning, but at least they were playing.  Not only that, but they were fun to watch again.  I know!  How crazy is that??

I first noticed something different in the first game after the Fish trade, a surprising Hockey Day win in Edmonton.  Naturally, I chalked it up to The Bryan’s first clear signal that no one was safe and the resulting puckered sphincters in the dressing room.  But as The Emperor’s veteran purge (and ensuing Great Bingo Airlift) continues, it seems more obvious to these untrained eyes: the kids will play for this guy.  The younger the lineup gets the more we see the system The Little General has tried to run since the day he got here…two man kamikaze forecheck, third forward supporting in the high slot, get the cycle going and have the D ready to jump on the eventual dumb-ass clearing attempts by a besieged and panicked opposition.   It’s high risk/high reward and when it doesn’t work (ie: most of this season) the inevitable odd-man rushes the other way are positively ulcer inducing, but dayum…it sure as hell beats watching five guys half-assing it in our own zone until the red light goes off and the other team is group hugging in the corner, no?

All that being said, Cory is far from blameless in the shit show to which we’ve been subjected over the last five months.  My sneaking suspicion, based entirely on my own jaded and bitter observations of human nature, is that after surviving L’Affaire Doucheldorf (and riding a ridiculous 11 game win streak) to guide the Sens to an improbable playoff appearance in his first full season behind the bench, our Little General’s britches may have become a tad inflated, and quite simply rubbed the vets the wrong way.  And as any long-timey nurse or cop will tell you, a fresh-out-of-school newbie’s raging case of “Grad-itis” is a pain in the ass for all concerned.

But the vets are, for the most part, either already gone or soon to leave.  The core of this team, the core that may have seen 12 straight playoff years and a trip to the Finals as licence to ignore the pleadings of three different coaches, is being blown to smithereens, to be replaced by hungry young greenhorns who might actually listen.  Who are, for lack of a better word, “coachable”.  And if we’re being perfectly honest here, let’s say for sake of argument Cory is canned.  Do any of us think that gets us closer to where we want to be?  Scotty Bowman himself would have a hard time getting next year’s team into the playoffs.  And even then, to what end?  To lose in the first round and pick in the top 16?  How does that help?

Conventional wisdom says that you can’t fire 22 players, so you fire the coach.  Well, it looks as if The Bryan is intent on turning that little pearl on it’s head, and so far it seems to be looking pretty good.  Sure, this little resurgence in competence may be nothing more than a young, loose team playing without any pressure.  A dead cat bounce, as it were.  But my question to The Army is this.  Do we still need to do both?

Pithy Observations of Questionable Importance:

Bryan Murray…Genius or SUPER Genius?  Discuss:  Forget the myriad picks for role players (Hey Fish, K-Rok and Roto!  ‘Sup?).  Fleecing Colorado for Anderson (does no one in Denver own a PVR?) and getting anything more than a flaming bag of dog feces for Kovy makes Bryan Murray my pick for Executive of the Year.  All of you baying that a lame duck GM (if that is in fact what he is) can’t be trusted with a rebuild can now kindly shut the fuck up.

EA Sports may just have hit upon the most awesomest idea ever:  If, like me, you play a ridiculous…nay, unhealthy amount of NHL 11 on the PS3 (for that I thank my inability to cope with middle age and Beloved’s seemingly bottomless patience) you may have noticed a quirk in the way EA organizes your team’s schedule, particularly as you get into the far future of a Be A Pro career…two and three game regular season series a la bery-bery-kind-to-me major league basbol.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this may be the greatest innovation in hockey since the retirement of Bobby Clarke.  Why the hell can’t teams rig their schedule like this for real?  Think about it.  Want to crank up a playoff atmosphere in February?  How about two straight home games against the Leafs or Habs, followed by two more games against those same teams in their barns?  It’s the “home-and-home” on steroids with all of the bile, bloodshed and mayhem that would necessarily entail.  In short, it would be fucking awesome.  Make this happen Brendan Shanahan.

Dear Pittsburgh, BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!:  We close with a final farewell to one Alexei Kovalev.  Though you may not have…um…just because it may have not…  Geez.  This is tough.  Okay, let’s try again.  Even if it didn’t work out…no, that’s no good.  Ah!  Got it!  Ahem…GOOD LUCK AND GOOD RIDDANCE YOU SOUL SUCKING BAG OF PUS!  ENJOY THE KHL!  Yeah, that sounds about right.

Have a good week everybody.  Tomorrow is deadline day.  Let us gather next week to see what we have left, shall we?