For more information regarding our move, please read the two last post published below.

27 June 2007

8 questions with a Senators fanatic...

Seriously, how can Bryan Murray make the Sens better? They're already light years ahead of most teams when it comes to talent and finesse. You won't find guys like Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Wade Redden (?) and Ray Emery on most other teams.

Sherry, the Sens' beat writer on this blog and over from the always zealous Scarlett Ice was kind enough to be answer 8 burning questions about her Ottawa Senators.

Enjoy, and Habs fans should wait for a surprise that might come later.

1) First off, I know this is kind of old, but how do you feel about the Sens' loss to the Ducks in the final? What went wrong, is there someone in particular that needs to be blamed?

Well, at first I sort of felt calm. The truth is I was expecting it. The way they were playing they didn't deserve to win. I was disappointed, but I kept on trying to tell myself that making it to the finals is a huge accomplishment and I shouldn't let losing overshadow what a great season they had.
But then after the dust settled I started to make myself look closer at what happened. As a fan, I was mad that my team didn't show up in the final. They did a lot of great things but it obviously wasn't enough.

As for what went wrong, I think they were just out of their depth. They didn't really have any trouble handling opponents in the playoffs until that point and the Ducks were just a stronger, grittier team.
I don't think anybody can be blamed solely for it. The top line, asides from Alfie, completely disappeared and the lack of secondary scoring was exposed. Muckler got the boot because coaching wasn't the reason they lost but something had to be done.

2) The Sens have had terrific players and terrific seasons for too long now, what needs to change? Was John Muckler really the one that deserved to go?

I think the poor start this past season was really beneficial to their development, and getting hit with all of those injuries, they really learned to play as a team. Murray was a coach that they were willing to play for; they really wanted this for one another but also for him.

As far as change, I think the younger players need to develop in a positive direction and try to find the role which they fit. For example, everybody had high offensive expectations for Antoine Vermette, yet he turned out to be a great defensive player. Same with Mike Comrie. Spezza and Heatley need to continue to develop their defensive sensibilities. They're moving in a very positive direction and I think more size and sandpaper will help. Muckler really enjoyed skilled, finesse players yet as we saw in the final, it might not be enough if you're going to be wallpapered into the boards.

I think if you look at Muckler's track record, one might say he didn't deserve to go but as I said before, the Senators have had the same story these past couple of years and still haven't won anything.
Melnyk and Mlakar couldn't keep on motoring ahead with the status quo, and since coaching wasn't the problem and Murray, being a free agent had more negotiating power, Muckler was the one who took the fall.

3) Bryan Murray's the new Sens GM, in what way do you think he'll be different from his predecessor in John Muckler?

Hmm, well if you believe the reports that came out, Muckler and Murray had a very different view of what the team needed. Murray has had experience as a GM before, and they both have a very keen hockey sense.

I think Murray is a lot less gun shy about making the necessary moves. He's not afraid to use players in a very limited role if he feels they aren't contributing and I'm sure he won't be as reluctant to part with assets if it means bringing in somebody that could help the team. Not that

Muckler was, but during his tenure, you always got the sense that maybe he was waiting for a payoff with his current squad that just wasn't happening.

You can see from the draft already that Murray wants more size and grit from this team. He had a large hand in putting together a lot of the assets on the Ducks squad that won the Cup this year and a lot of the players he drafted and signed were big guys who had a really complete all-around game.

4) Tell us about the Senators' impending UFA's, what's their plan?
Who should be retained and who will walk the plank?

Well, the Senators only have a couple of notable UFA's.

The one I really wanted to keep the most was Dean McAmmond, and he was luckily signed to a new 3 year deal recently. The others are Mike Comrie and Tom Preissing.
Both of whom I would like to keep for a realistic salary.

The truth is Comrie and Preissing will both most likely be asking for huge raises and in a salary cap world, it would probably best to let them walk and use the money somewhere else.
Comrie and Preissing both have a lot of potential and a lot of upside but at times what they provide can be very limited.

For the most part, the Senators will probably try to retain both and maybe create cap space via trades. But Murray will hardly be reluctant to let them walk if they can't realistically fit under the cap.

5) How should Ottawa handle the Wade Redden saga?

Here's one I'm personally interested in.

It's hard to say.

I think the poor guy is having a lot of pressure on him from playing in a market like Ottawa and it's even more magnified because of the size of his paycheque.
He's got one more year on his contract before he's a UFA again and he has a no trade clause. Edmonton has been famously trying to lure him over there and he's come out publically to say he's not interested.

I think that means a lot to the Ottawa fanbase, even though we are the ones who are giving him the roughest time.
As a fan, it's frustrating to see him struggling the way he is because you know he's capable of so much more. A lot of people will point to his disappointing season as a sign that we should have signed Chara instead, but he's hardly been earning his paycheque over in Boston.

I think it would be a lot easier to just cut him loose and use the money somewhere else, but I feel like no matter who we trade him for, or who we use his salary to sign, it just wouldn't make up for what Wade Redden is capable of providing.

It's a big 'If', but Redden is somebody who is very important to the Senators franchise and the Ottawa community. He's a sentimental favourite, he's grown up in front of our eyes. I think as it stands, the Senators should keep him, at the very least until the trade deadline. He only has one more year and the upside of him having a horrific season is that it'll be more realistic to sign him for less when his contract is up for renewal

6) Now onto more frustration, how exactly do you feel about Martin Gerber?
At first sight, his overall numbers aren't terrible, but that's probably deceiving.

You know, when Gerber came to Ottawa, I was somebody who was very excited that we were finally getting a number 1 starter.
His numbers this season are almost exactly the same from his numbers in Carolina. The difference of course being he had 38 wins in Carolina.
I think his psyche was really damaged from having to start in the series against Montreal [mouhhahahaha] when his health wasn't 100% and I was very adamant in defending him, but there's got to be a time where you say enough is enough.
He played well during the end of the season, but there were just times where you held your breath and wondered if he was going to make that save. [sounds like Jose Theodore]

I would like to keep him, because as a back-up he's better than some teams have.
But as it stands, you don't want somebody on the bench with that kind of contract.
Gerber's been a great team player for this squad and he has said that he likes Ottawa, but understandably as a goaltender, you want to go somewhere where you can play.

I think he should definitely be traded, but I'm not in any rush to see him go.
I'm willing to wait until after the season starts or until the trade deadline even, seeing as how Emery recently had wrist surgery and we won't know how he'll be coming back.

7) Who do you want the Sens to go after in this year's UFA crop?

I think the Senators need to get a veteran.
Everybody was talking about how they needed to get Gary Roberts. Roberts was on the Pens but couldn't help them past the first round.

I think getting a gritty veteran who's also been to the big dance before will help, but you have to make sure he's somebody who can help.
The Senators need help with secondary scoring, so somebody who can provide both will be helpful. It's completely unrealistic and will never ever happen, but I love what Chris Drury brings to a team. Maybe even a Bill Guerin or Paul Kariya.

These are guys I would LOVE to see in a Senators jersey, but again, just a pipe dream, haha.

I also think the Senators need to get a bigger, more physical D. Volchenkov and Phillips are a great shut-down tandem, but asides from them we have a lot of puck moving offensive defensemen whose defensive abilities are questionable at times.
If Preissing does end up leaving, Schubert will most likely go back to playing D.
He's the type of defenseman who we need more of, but he still has a bit of a way to develop so as to make smarter decisions and not take stupid penalties.

8) You guys were all drooling over the possibility of having Alexei Kaigorodov as the team's 2nd line centre, I was worried he might become another lethal force at centre, such as Jason Spezza, and end up hurting the Habs badly.
Now he's in cold Russia, what exactly went wrong with him?

I think nothing went wrong with him per say, except for the fact that we built up unrealistic expectations of him.

We had these hopes that he would become the second line centre we so badly needed, yet he came over here and fell flat.

Yet, if you think about, if you're pulling a kid out of Russia, a second round draft pick who has never played the North American game before, you can't possibly expect him to perform right away, yet we heard all of the amazing things he could do and put too much pressure on him way too early.

Muckler did the right thing by wanting to send him down to Binghamton. A spell in the AHL never hurt anybody, but Kaigorodov refused. I guess it was a pride issue but the Senators had no choice but to trade him. I think Kaigodorov can play in the NHL.

Phoenix has his rights now and he could be really useful for a team in their situation.


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