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18 June 2007

The Senators Will Rue This Day

I guess every franchise goes through this. The resident genius leads the team to the promised land and then his eccentricities lead him out the door. It has happened all over the place. Here in Buffalo it is an all too familiar story... Bill Polian anyone? You're welcome Indianapolis Colts!

The Senator's decision to move on without John Muckler didn't surprise me. He has had a history of being cantankerous and difficult to work with from a management perspective. He also had been whispering retirement out of one side of his mouth while espousing plans for the future on the other side. Remember, this is the man who hired Ted Nolan, a man who resurrected a flagging Muckler built team in Buffalo, only to turn and try to slit Nolan's throat when Nolan asked for more juice.

I suspect much was the same in Ottawa. It seems that Muckler had his hands tied by Eugene Melnyk when it came to bringing Dominik Hasek back for another run. In my opinion Muckler was forced to go with Emery and Gerber and then had his hand forced by Emery with his superb play. Never one to forget a slight I can surmise that Muckler used his current possible retirement scenario to try and gain some leverage on Melnyk. Instead, Ottawa decided to move him out rather than have a Buffalo like controversy on their hands. In short, Muckler picked a fight with a billionaire owner and got swatted down for his trouble. Bryan Murray is the big winner as he comes out golden for simply having his talented group of players finally play to expectations.

Sadly, as in most cases. A man like Muckler isn't easily replaced. He has made all of the right moves since coming to Ottawa and the team's success is directly attributable to Muckler's leadership. Not that I blame Melnyk, he is a shrewd businessman and Ottawa's true rise also coincided with his appearance on the scene. This team of strong egos led to a dynamic and successful organization. Unfortunately, I doubt that the Senator's will maintain under Murray's watch half as well as they did under Muckler's. It should be interesting to see in 5 years if this is the day that Sens fans point to as the day it started all coming apart.

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