I know some Habs or even Leafs fans who dislike the Sens are gleeful about their woes, but I'm starting to really worry about the viability of this franchise. I think the NHL is better, and the Canadiens have better rivalries with a healthy team in Ottawa.
I used to like the Sens a lot, the team of Alfredsson and Hossa and Havlat and Wade Redden, thought they were exciting and fun to watch. I hated how the Leafs with Domi and Tucker and Belak would goon them out of the playoffs, with Don Cherry cheerleading, rooting for the Canadians over the "foreigners", shameful stuff.
Now I hated the Sens of the last couple of years with Scowlin' Chris Neil and Eric Graiba or Greeba or whatever that plug's name is, but I kind of understand that it's the Leaf's fault, Darcy Tucker's fault, and the Bruins' fault. They forced the arms race on the Northeast, and the Senators responded after years of hoping their talent would overcome.
They messed up with Daniel Alfredsson, Bryan Murray wouldn't admit it today. His last contract was supposed to be a two-year deal and it was possible he'd retire after, but the Sens prevailed upon him to tack on a cap-circumventing bogus third year at a $1M salary. He had misgivings but went along, he had an eye on finishing his playing career and moving into the front office in Ottawa. Sure enough, after the initial two years, he felt good enough to keep playing, didn't feel like retiring, but now he was stuck playing for a pittance, the bogus 1 mill year.
Last summer, when he decided he wanted to come back, he expected to be compensated for the previous year he'd played, plus get a realistic wage for the upcoming year, but then they hemmed and hawed and nickel and dimed him, and he said screw it and bolted, talked to Detroit and signed with them. I understand that he's bitter about being a good soldier, being talked into a bad deal, and then having the team's cash-strapped owner not making it right.
When Bryan Murray and Eugene Melnyk say they talked and the owner told Bryan Murray to pay him whatever was necessary to retain him, it was already too late. The captain felt he'd been given the runaround, there had been a breach of trust, and he'd checked out, in his mind he was already a Red Wing. The Sens were trying to slam the barn door shut after the horse had bolted.
I don't know if that's the beginning of the end, but all that young talent that they had isn't making the difference that was envisioned two seasons ago. Losing Ben Bishop for nothing smarts. So does losing Jason Spezza to meager returns, and now the Bobby Ryan watch starts.
I can't rejoice in this, I want a successful team in Ottawa. Their population base is small enough that they need a strong owner, not the harried shell-game artist they have now, and a winning team to fill their building.
Ideally, I want a good rivalry with Ottawa, and eventually with Québec, as well as with Boston and the Leafs, when they emerge from the crater they're going to create next season.
Darren Dreger of TSN just wrapped up the Leafs’ day, talked about:
1) the Leafs missing out on signing their own player Dave Bolland,
2) being rebuffed by Josh Gorges, who wouldn't waive his No Trade Clause despite a charm offensive from the Leafs, and
3) Brian Boyle leaving money on the table to go sign with Tampa instead.
Brendan Shanahan has a huge, huge job ahead of him to turn this franchise around. This season wasn’t a blip, 2012-13 was the blip.
They’re now dropping like an anchor. With Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel as their leaders to turn things around.