As the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs draws to a close, I was not really expecting the Senators to get some mainstream coverage in the news, but Darren Dreger appeared on Dave Naylor’s show on TSN 1050 yesterday afternoon and dropped one interesting nugget of information pertaining to the Sens.
When asked about Daniel Alfredsson’s future and whether he could be expected to play another season, the answer was along the same lines that we’ve heard here in Ottawa during the past number of summers.
“Well, I’d be guessing and I had this conversation on the weekend with JP Barry, who is part of the group that represents Daniel Alfredsson and he said the same thing. They stopped asking Daniel Alfredsson probably three to four years ago because the response was always the same. ‘Let me get home. Let me talk to my friends and family there – and that includes Mats Sundin – and get a feel for where I’m at.’ That was the same message that I got from Barry on the weekend. He said, ‘Look, Alfredsson and his family will go back to Sweden. He’ll take a couple of weeks off and then probably by week three, he’ll decide or his body will decide whether or not it can handle the training necessary to prepare for another season.”
However, when asked whether Alfredsson could decide that Ottawa has a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup in Ottawa than he does in Detroit, Dreger used the opportunity to comment on Senators owner Eugene Melnyk’s influence on the process.
“(Laughing) Yeah, it’s not impossible and then somehow drift into management or coaching or whatever. Hey, people have made that suggestion before. I would say that that is (laughing) highly unlikely given the fact that I’m told, as we look at the Ottawa situation, you’ve got Jason Spezza and the uncertainty of what’s going to happen there. And I’m told by some who should know that Eugene Melnky, the owner of the Senators, is very, very sensitive to how the Spezza scenario unfolds because he does not want to go through what he went through with Daniel Alfredsson.”
At the time of Alfredsson’s departure and the quick turnaround that netted the team Bobby Ryan in a trade, the reaction was pretty positive. As much animosity as there was to seeing Alfredsson leave town, provided that the team was better on paper than it would have been had Alfredsson remained, fans accepted the change and some embraced it.
Eventually over time more details emerged of why Alfredsson left and it became more and more apparent that the Senators were fatally flawed and that the void left by Alfredsson was overlooked and with it, fans circled back and used the opportunity to criticize the organization’s handling of the Alfredsson situation.
The reality of Ottawa’s situation now is that its higher ups keep commenting on the need for more accountability and leadership, but the organization stands to lose its past two captains in consecutive offseasons because of their own volitions.
Any decision to trade Spezza is what it is: a hockey decision made because the coaching staff does not believe Spezza’s style fits the team’s 200’ mantra and because management simply cannot afford to shoulder the risk created by signing him to a long-term contract.
There’s a legitimate and well-reasoned argument to be made that it is in the Senators’ own best interests to trade Spezza, however, if the owner is sensitive to the fallout created by a prospective Spezza trade, it’s only because he’s worried about more negative PR. And if that’s the case, maybe he ought to just step away from the cameras and microphones and stop doing interviews.
More Spezza Talk…
Elliotte Friedman was TSN 1200’s ‘TGOR’ this morning and he commented on whether he believes Spezza will be dealt this summer.
“I do, but don’t forget that he’s got a lot of say. I think they will decompress a bit and then at some point, Jason Spezza will sit down with the Senators and they’ll talk. I just think that they’ve almost reached a point there where it might be best for both him and the team to take a look a look at what else is out there.”
Friedman would go to describe why the timing makes sense to trade Spezza this summer.
“I think that it’s a bad idea, in a Canadian market, to have the distraction. If you’re not going to sign him, you don’t want that question being asked 82 times a year in every building that you’re going to. I think that it would just be, so if they’re not going to sign him and I get the sense that that’s not going to happen, I think it’s best for both sides if they work (a trade) out.”
As much as Friedman plays up the distraction angle, perhaps the one that matters most is Spezza’s health. If the Senators decide this offseason, assuming that choice has not been made already, that they are not going to re-sign Spezza, they cannot afford to hold onto him throughout the course of the season and have him get hurt.
If this season’s trade deadline prices reflect anything, it’s that teams are more hesitant to move high draft picks for pure rentals and in what’s considered to be an incredibly strong 2015 draft class, this effect could carry over at next year’s trade deadline and weaken the offers for him. By trading him now and giving a team the opportunity to have Spezza for a full season, the team can hopefully get more for him now.
The good news is that the market will apparently be large.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of interest. If you look at St. Louis losing in the first round, I think Jason Spezza would be an excellent fit there. If you look at Nashville, which is scrambling for offence, I think Jason Spezza could be a great fit there and I still think there are teams that might get knocked out early in the playoffs that will look and say, ‘Jason Spezza could be a great fit.’ And I think he should look at it as an opportunity to see what else is out there and the team has an opportunity to go out and get something good because he is a valuable player. So I do think that they will sit down sometime in the near future and they will talk about what’s the best route.”