SI Gives Ottawa’s Offseason a ‘D’ Letter Grade


Who the hell is Allan Muir?  

I had no idea who he was before reading his Eastern Conference offseason letter grades at Sports Illustrated‘s website, but he’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression.

It’s a shame really, because Muir, who apparently covers hockey for SI, dropped this steaming turd while assessing Ottawa’s offseason:

Letting Zenon Konopka walk? Fine. Trading Nick Foligno for underappreciated defender Marc Methot? Okay. But letting Matt Carkner leave over his desire for an extra year on his deal? That’s penny smart, pound foolish thinking by GM Bryan Murray. Not only will the Sens be a softer touch, they’re also well below the cap floor. Maybe that sorts itself out in the CBA, but if it doesn’t, then Murray is left to overspend on someone for the sake of spending. There’s also a need for a legitimate first line right wing that’s gone unaddressed. (No, I’m not convinced Jacob Silfverberg is the answer). GRADE: D

Holy shit, context lost much?

If one so foolhardily believes that the Senators organization’s decision to rid itself of Matt Carkner was driven principally by money, that person deserves to get publicly flogged and ridiculed.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

I mean, damn, if you’re the GM of an organization and you have the opportunity to lock up a 32-year old replacement level defenceman to a three-year deal that carries a $1.5 million per annum price tag and blocks the development of a NHL-ready prospect (Mark Borowiecki) in the process, you just have to do it, right!?!?

Not only does Muir’s suggestion completely ignore the fact that Carkner’s knee is held together by chewing gum and the hopes and prayers of the people of Winchester, this idea that Ottawa’s player budget is limitless and that the organization can afford to piss money away on an injury-prone player who has averaged less than 40 games played over the past two seasons is absurdly short-sighted. Regardless of whether the cap floor mechanism is a part of the next CBA or not, that additional $1.5 million could be allocated in a much better way.

Recalling comments that Assistant GM Tim Murray made on the Team 1200 in early July, here is what he had to say on Carkner signing with the Isles:

“Well, I think at the end of the day, we might have went two years. We didn’t offer that until he started talking to other teams obviously. Hey, we all like Matt and just to get it out of the way, I don’t begrudge Matt whatsoever. He has worked extremely hard (and spent) a lot of years in the minors. He goes now at $4.5M and sometimes, that’s the incentive for the player. If a guy has made money all the way up all along his career and has been in the NHL at 22 or 23 years old, you can pick and choose different situations. And I think that he probably picked the right situation. I think he picked it based on finances and I think he picked it… he’s always going to be competitive and that’s not going to change. His chances of winning there are probably are a little less than if he had chosen to go a different route. And that’s fine. He has worked hard. He finally got a pretty big paycheck here and he’s looked after his family here for the foreseeable future for sure… if he’s smart with his money – which I know Matt is. There’s never going to be a bad word said about him. Now do we wish that he stayed with us for a little less money and a little less term? Of course. We’re selfish. We like guys like that but certainly, there are different reasons that scared us off from that.

Age. Regression. Cost. Diminishing returns. Health concerns. Younger and inexpensive alternatives. They are all completely legitimate reasons for walking away from the popular veteran defenceman whose best redeeming quality is his ability to cave in an opponent’s face.

But of course, Muir is the same person who is unconvinced that Jakob (not Jacob) Silverberg may not be the answer as the first line RW after 6 periods of NHL experience. He also gave the Buffalo Sabres a B grade for: a) drafting two prospects – Girgensons and Grigorenko – who probably won’t play this season; b) trading their best offensive center for Steve Ott; and c) signing John Scott as a free agent. Yes, John fucking Scott – the comically awful player who shares the same discernible skillset with this hockey playing bear:

It certainly seems like Muir oversimplifies the importance of pugilism but it’s not like it’s something that Ottawa lacks. Touching upon more of Tim Murray’s comments, he expects the Senators to compensate for the loss of Carkner’s toughness through a collective effort.

No, I like our team’s toughness and you just named them all (Neil, Borowiecki, Greening, Smith) and I like the different aspects of toughness that those guys bring. Is there a Matt Carkner in that group? No, he’s the nuclear deterrent and that’s what he is. We don’t have that now, so it’s going to have to be more of a team-toughness type of scenario. Maybe Zack is going to have to do a little bit more. Maybe Colin is going to have to do a little bit more. We know that if Borowiecki is on the team, he’s going to be ultra-competitive and really, really hard to play against. And that’s what team toughness comes down to: being hard to play against. If John Scott takes a run at Erik and Matt (Carkner)’s not in the lineup that night or if he’s only playing half the games for us or whatever, I’m not sure that there’s much that you can do about it. In those scenarios, I think you have to let the league take care of that type of thing but I think, just so far as being hard to play against and team toughness, those five or so guys that you named, and I think other guys can step up just a little bit – not fighting fifteen times or whatever but just being hard to play against, it will make us a tougher team.”

If anything, the decision to let Carkner, Foligno and Konopka go speaks volumes about the organization’s intent to curb the discipline problems that led to them allowing the fifth most number of power play goals in the league last season.

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