Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday morning thoughts - Heatley still here

I, along with a lot of other fans, have become a bit jumpy when it comes to Dany Heatley news. I think it mirrors how we are with the economy. If they tell us Apple didn't sell enough iPhones last week, the markets plummet. Then they say that there were fewer unemployment claims filed than they expected, the markets jump up. We've become such a sensitive group of people that even Alex Kovalev's lip service to Montreal media sends the city into panic mode.

With yesterday's news that the San Jose sharks had cleared beaucoup de cap space, we were ready to pick which Sharks forwards would be headed Ottawa's way in the inevitable Heatley trade that would follow. I'm as bad as anyone about it. I really thought for a moment that Doug Wilson would just go ahead and announce the acquisition of Heatley in the same press conference. After we all catch our breath and our heart rate returns to normal, we all realize that Heatley to San Jose isn't any closer than it was last week or last month. The Sharks do have the cap space available now, but they still have 10 forwards under contract with two weeks to camp. Any Heatley trade would involve two of those players, unless it is something like Marleau and a defenceman (which they have one less of after trading Ehrhoff to Vancouver).

After thinking this over, we have to wonder if Heatley to San Jose ever made sense for us or for them. If Booboo is right that they offered Cheechoo, Ehrhoff, and a first rounder, then it is clear why this trade never happened. Doug Wilson can't afford to give up two forwards for one and we can't afford to give up Heatley without getting two forwards back. So on we go with Heatley still on the roster and ready to jump up and down with the next league transaction, just hoping that it is a preface to our much-desired Heatley trade.


Interesting yesterday how Bryan Murray thought enough of Kovalev's comments to make a formal comment. Again, we're so eager for news in this, the longest off-season of our freaking lives.


I hope Nick Foligno gets a warm welcome to Ottawa this September/October. If anybody has had a worse summer than Dany Heatley, it is Nick and his family. Our hearts have to go out to this kid for what he's had to go through as it reminds all of us that there is far more precious things in this world than hockey and trade options and diminished roles. Here's to hoping Nick has a career year and the Foligno family continues to move forward, albeit with heavy hearts.


There is going to come a time in the next couple of years when one of Chris Phillips or Anton Volchenkov is no longer an Ottawa Senator. With Patrick Wiercioch and Jared Cowen both coming in as big, defensive defencemen, we're going to have to make room somehow for some offensive blueliners to move the puck up the ice. This team will not have Phillips, Volchenkov, Wiercioch, and Cowen on the same roster, will it? It's a tough call - with Phillips, you have the community guy, loves the city, huge locker room influence (sounds like Muckler's justificiation for keeping Redden, no?), and with Volchenkov, you have the bruiser that blocks anything and is just happy to have a job and be on the ice. My bet is that Phillips stays, but I've been known to be wrong on just about every other prediction. Who would you keep?


Has Dany Heatley been traded yet? How about now?

Friday, August 28, 2009

SJ makes cap space; Heatley trade inevitable?

With the trade of Brad Lukowich and Christian Ehrhoff to Vancouver, the Sharks now find themselves in a position to acquire the Heatley. Is this inevitable? Is it pssible the Sharks just wanted more room under the cap? Maybe they're going after Kessel instead of Heatley. Or maybe Kovalev's second dream, the one of playing with Dany Heatley, will go unfulfilled as the disgruntled one is shipped to Silicon Valley.

Kovy's comments: No Big Deal

Duff - this would be a classic topic for one of our debates, but I'm off to Montreal this morning for work (not retirement), leaving me little time for a fun back-and-forth. But don't worry, I won't long for the city after I leave.

That said, I'll keep my comments about this recent news short and sweet - don't worry about it.

And now I'll elaborate a bit.

While this comment couldn't have come at a worse time, it doesn't mean that Kovy hates Ottawa, or Beavertails. Ok, ok, nobody used the 'h' word, but it also doesn't mean he doesn't want to be here. I don't blame him for having a soft spot in Montreal. And, hey, the fact that he embraces such a market - where his white socks with dress shoes could make for front page news (quelle horreur!) - is good! Dany Heatley doesn't want to be in a hockey market like Ottawa or Edmonton, fine. Kovy spent a few years in Montreal and signed his name to a contract with Senator letterhead, great! Bring it on!

I love when guys leave a city (especially under trade circumstances) and talks about how much they loved being there, the fans, the team, the management, the merchandise outlets, etc. Some guys say it politically, some guys say it cause they mean it. Good on the latter. In Kovy's case, how do you not express your admiration to a city when you're back in that city, who had 8,000 strong sign a petition to keep you in that city, and when you're at a charity golf tournament?! Kovy loved it, good on him and good for letting the fans of MTL know. Did he have to be so open about it? Probably not. But we all know he's a little bit of a weird bird.

So let's all agree that Kovy went a bit too far, but what you should agree with is that this is no big shakes. This won't take away anything from what he can contribute in Ottawa. When he's inconsistent or takes a game off here and there, don't accuse him of daydreaming of afternoons at Simons - it's gonna happen regardless. But the offensive talent he provides will make up for it.

The problem will be if the media blows this out of proportion. Hopefully they don't, but I also hope I hit my growth spurt...not gonna happen! So let’s all stop talking about it, follow the, er, following steps and we'll all be fine:

1. Say out loud, "Kovy had a great time in Montreal, and the weirdo won't shut up about it, but he's a Senator now and he'll be great for our offense"
2. Go back to blaming Heatley for everything and speculating on wild rumours like how I heard he'll be traded to the KHL
3. Petitition for Dave Archibald Mullet and Motorcycle night at SBP!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are you upset with Kovalev's comments?

That's why I say, maybe after two years I'll be back again. It definitely would be nice to retire here. We couldn’t get any better offer from anybody else. Ottawa was kind of the last choice for us. If we didn’t sign, we were going to end up someplace else for one year. - Alexei Kovalev

In case you hadn't heard, Alex Kovalev told reporters today that he wouldn't mind returning to Montreal at the end of his two-year contract to retire a Hab. Strange. More from Garrioch on it here.

On one hand, he is back in Montreal at a golf tournament talking about his disappointment at not being re-signed. Anybody that developed a passion for playing in one city would be initially upset about losing your spot to someone else. His comments could be part of a language issue and all he was saying that he enjoyed his time in the bleu, blanc, et rouge.

On the other hand, can people rub more salt on our wounds this summer? Outside of the Coyotes, we're having a somewhat embarassing summer when our top scorer asks for a trade, turns one down, and then doesn't garner another offer. Whether you agree or not, there is a valid argument that can be made that Ottawa is not a desirable place for free agents anymore. We're not a playoff team (last year), we've had our share of off-ice issues (McGrattan, Emery), numerous players have asked for trades (Schaefer, Corvo, Nikulin, Nicholat, and I know those last two hardly count), and now the Kovalev comments.

If he just said he was disappointed he couldn't stay in Montreal, I'd get over it. I mean, the dude has been signed for a month and needs to start thinking about his season in Ottawa, not the missed opportunity in Montreal. But he went much further and talked almost like he's counting down the days of his contract so Gainey (or his replacement) can offer him a contract and, learning his lesson from this summer, he'll sign immediately, no hesitation, so he can retire in Montreal.

I had very mixed feelings when AK27 was signed because his attitude just strike my fancy. This fuels my skepticism. There are some that will say I'm overreacting, but I find his comments just too strange. We must remember this guy has a very rocky track record with consistency and performance. It won't be any different in Ottawa and now he'll just have one more thing on his mind when he's taking a night off on the ice - how much he misses the steamed hot dogs and poutine of La Belle Province.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Less than 3 weeks to camp

At this point, if you haven't read the transcript of the Heatley call last week and the subsequent tongue-lashing he's taken in the press, then you are too classy for the Ottawa Sun. But seriously here, folks, I'm not going to take much time re-hashing what has already been said about Heatley. We know he wants options, even though Edmonton and Ottawa don't appear to count as options. I think we'd all have been better served if he'd just said, "I'd like to be traded to one of the following six teams, otherwise, I'll play my ass off in Ottawa this Fall until Murray gets a better offer and grants my wish." That's essentially what it is, right? I still have mixed feelings on whether or not these shenanigans have any effect on his standing on Team Canada. Some people think that Yzerman is into character players and Heatley isn't one of them. But at the end of the day, on a roster stacked with centres, he's still one of the best wingers out there and barring injury, he's a starter.

On to other important news, we're within three weeks of the opening training camp on September 12th (first game on the 15th). Outside of the Heatley trade saga, and I can honestly say that I think his return is still 50/50, we have a few other topics to discuss. We've already touched on Pascal and made the statement that playoffs depends entirely on his health and performance. At some point, we can start discussing linemates. Suffice it to say that the big three will start split up and we'll have two lines with two stars each. Where the role guys fit in after that is up for grabs. From Murray's last interview on Leafs Lunch last week, he said that Peter Regin and Zach Smith both have a legitimate shot at cracking the roster. And what about Cody Bass? We always forget about Bass because he hurts himself and misses seasons at a time. When you think about it, there are legitimate battles for those role positions at forward. In addition to the big four, Fisher will be there by default and I think Foligno is ready for a 45 point season in the top six. That leaves: Shannon, Winchester, Neil, Ruutu, Donovan, Kelly, Bass, Regin, Smith, and if you're being generous, Schubert and Zubov. Should I abandon my dream of re-signing Comrie at this point? Seriously, it isn't like contracts are moveable (I'm talking to you, Chris Kelly) and guys like Shannon and Winchester are on one-way deals. Maybe none of the young guys make it. Curious to see how this shakes out.

On defence, all eyes will be on Erik Karlsson and if he lives up to the billing. Obviously, there is no way he can match the hype that has preceded him, but the organization will work hard to protect him from big hits (see: Brian Rafalski's entire career). Murray has set the table for this kid to make the team and all Karlsson has to do is sit down and eat. But what does that mean for Brian Lee? I'm on Lee's side and think he's going to take some great strides. This is the first time that there's been other young defencemen breathing down his neck for roster spots and he'll rise to the occasion. When he first joined the team at the end of the 2007-08 season and our brief playoff run, he looked great. There was pressure on him to step in as a top ten pick and perform. Last year, nobody really improved. Foligno did a bit, Shannon was alright, and the rest took a step back. This year, with Karlsson coming in and Cowen and Wiercioch not far behind, Lee knows that this season will truly determine if he is signing an extension or if he becomes trade bait. My money is on Lee stepping up.

And like we said earlier, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on Cory Clouston. Even though we know the Heatley trade request isn't his fault, it still hangs on his shoulders to an extent. Sure, the burden will be shared across the organization, but if the team falters out of the gate, then everyone will be watching to see how Clouston responds with adapting the game plan and with his star scorer's role. Clouston and Murray have the year to make the playoffs, in my opinion, and we're going to really start noticing the coach's every move starting three weeks from now. We've focused on Heatley all summer, but some the 12th, this becomes a team game again.

Is anyone else going a bit crazy waiting for this to start? Damn these long off-seasons.