Let me preface this by saying that while there is a strong chance that there is far more to this story than the “Coach yelled at me in front of everyone and I didn’t like it” story, that’s all we have to go on for now. His agents have talked about how Heatley didn’t like the treatment from the media, as well, but let’s focus a bit of time on the Clouston/Heatley relationship going forward.
One thing that nobody has talked much about is the immense amount of pressure this adds to Cory Clouston in 2009-2010. Think about it – he took over a bottom dweller at a point when we were begging for the summer. Expectations at that point were nil. We had no idea how to pronounce this guy’s name, let alone why he was picked to finish out the year. Every win he got was gravy for self-confidence (although it screwed up our draft pick).
But in finishing the year to a standing ovation and a summer of anticipation, Coach Clouston is about to see the other side of the Ottawa fanbase. Most of us are expecting a decent summer from Murray and a strong start from Pascal, resulting in a quick return to the postseason. We are about to see Cory Clouston coaching in an era of expectation, just like predecessors like Jacques Martin, Bryan Murray, John Paddock, and Craig Hartsburg all faced.
But here’s the ticker – as far as we have been told, Coach Clouston is also one of the main reasons that our leading scorer (he puts up 50 of them per year, sometimes) wants to leave Ottawa. I’ll repeat that – Dany Heatley asked to be traded out of Ottawa because he didn’t like the coach’s system.
Let me ask you this, Smithers: what happens if Dany Heatley opens up with a quick 10-12 goals in his first month in his new city while Ottawa stumbles, bumbles, and fumbles out of the gate in the Northeast? As much as we hate Dany Heatley today, we have the tendency to turn on our own heroes incredibly fast and will throw just about anyone to the wolves if given the airtime. Remember when half of Ottawa wanted to rescind Alfie’s key to the city?
I opine that if Heatley’s tiff really is with the system and coaching style in Ottawa, then Clouston had better be winning games early and often this fall. While I think his job security will last a while and I am confident that he is the right person for the job, there is an immense amount of pressure on him. Don’t be surprised if the post-game show pundits start screaming for Heaters to come back if he has a more successful start this fall then Clouston’s Senators. Fairness has never been a part of our MO in Ottawa. (photo from Ottawa Citizen)
So the draft is officially a week away and will be the first signifacant thing the Sens will have done since trading for Pascal Leclaire in the first week of March. Given all the news surrounding the team with Heatley rumours, mock drafts, etc., I thought I'd offer up three predictions that I guarantee will happen before the draft is over. Ready?
1. Dany Heatley WILL be moved prior to our first round pick. Not much of a stretch, but I'm convinced that Murray will find a suitable deal the night before and will pull the trigger before the first round begins. Not necessarily a great deal, not highway robbery, but a suitable deal.
2. We will pick before the Leafs. Hear me now and believe me later, Bryan Murray loves to trade up in the draft. Whether it is swapping our 9th pick and a second rounder to move into the top 5, or merely jumping fewer spots ahead, Murray WILL make a trade and move up in the draft. Hell, maybe this is the move where Chris Kelly gets traded while holding someone's baby and laughing at Local Hero's Sens drafy party!
3. Chris Neil will re-sign. The writing is on the wall here, folks. Neil wants to stay, Murray needs his toughness and leadership around, and this deal will get signed in Montreal. I know some people think that the rumoured $1.7M per year is a bit steep, but that is probably below market price for a guy that can hang on the third line, skate well, and fight anyone in the league. He's also insanely passionate about his team and sticks up for his teammates. His offensive totals dipped last year, but that is par for the course for the Sens. He'll rebound back up to a 25-30 point player and keep Alfie and Spezza from getting run over.
Our first blog here in about a year and a half! Not really sure what we stopped and not really sure why we’re starting back up, but I’m hoping that this blog can fill a void in the dozens of Senators and hockey blogs out there today. There are some great ones, for sure. Whether it be Sens insider sites, postgame report sites, or just general observations on the team.
I’m hoping that this site can have daily posts about current Sens news and take a look at the lighter side of the team. Instead of trying to break actual rumours, we’ll instead provide an analysis on a rumour based on salary cap, statistics, projections, etc. Instead of writing post-game reports, we’ll try and highlight trends over the past few games, which players are performing, and which lines are clicking.
The first few posts are going to be obvious ones – the Dany Heatley saga, my opinion on the management shakeup with RAM, and a look at the upcoming UFA season that is less than three weeks away.
We’ll start out with no moderation on the comments so please feel free to comment as often as you’d like and hopefully we’ll have some good active discussion going.
In the meantime, here's at least one Senators star that loves living and playing in Ottawa.
Please note that there are numerous photos being used in this blog from various sources across the Internet. These are not attempts at republishing pictures without consent, but merely a chance to add a face to a name.