Saturday, September 05, 2009

Best Former Sens - Left Wingers

We're back for the third of five installments, putting together a roster of former Sens. If you didn't catch the centres and right wingers (they're below this), the rule is that this is only modern day Sens (sorry, Frank Finnigan) and they must have played 50 games (sorry, Peter Bondra). The basis is looking at points per game with Ottawa and then bringing in some subjective opinions to iron out a well-rounded team, ie. Mike Peluso cracking the roster as the 4th line right winger.

One thing that plagued this team in the late 90s and early 2000s is that we never had a top flight left winger. When we had Alfie, Hossa, and Havlat, we tried to move Boots to the second line left side, but he didn't adapt. Instead, we were like a canoe that was tipping to the right or going in circles. Okay, terrible analogy, but we were easy to shut down because you just had to put your strong defenceman on that side to slow us down. While Heatley was a right winger when he arrived here, he has managed to move to the left side when the Pizza Line plays together so we kinda sorta have it figured out...until he gets traded.

Left Wing

1. Shawn McEachern: (454 games, 142g, 162a, 304pts, 244PIM, 1996-2002, 0.6696 pts per game)

Without question, Gecks was our top left winger for his tenure in Ottawa. Acquired for Trent McLeary and a third round pick before the 96-97 season, he was one of our better trade acquisitions of the 90s. He also settled in nicely on the left side of Yashin and Dackell on the MOO line (Ministry of Offence). McEachern is 8th in all-time scoring with the Sens and second best scoring left winger we've ever had (#15 is first). McEachern's best years were in Ottawa, no question, as he twice put up 30-goal seasons. Was he a legitimate top line left winger? That's hard to say because we were just so stacked on the right side and Gecks wasn't really superstar status. But he was a hard worker, a Stanley Cup winner, and an all-around solid player. I also bought his stick at the Sensations Equipment Sale a long time ago and still use it today. Allegedly, my shot isn't quite as good as his, since he's long since retired yet his stick is still in one piece. McEachern was picked up by the Bruins, played with both the big club and in Providence, and was eventually waived into retirement, but at least was able to do it in his hometown.

2. Magnus Arvedson: (393 games, 92g, 118a, 210pts, 229PIM, 1997-2003, 0.5344 pts per game

I was never much of an Arvedson fan. Part of it was because I didn't like his last name infringing too closely to Alfie's, and part of it was because he was the perfect characterization of what was wrong with our franchise during our playoff failures. Here's a guy that was solid enough to play in the top six during his tenure in Ottawa but would need to get a freaking map to learn where the corners of the rink were. Think about this - 92 goals in 393 games in the regular season, 3 goals in 52 playoff games. Here was a player that could play a solid brand of two-way hockey in the regular season but had no response for the playoffs when grinding and emotion takes over. It wasn't all bad with Arvie - in 1999, he finished as runner-up for the Selke trophy to Jere Lehtinen. But sadly, I'll always remember him most when he was punched in the nose by Tie Domi.

3. Vaclav Prospal: (213 games, 34g, 77a, 111pts, 114PIM, 1997-2001, 0.5211 pts per game)

Vinny didn't necessarily put up great numbers in Ottawa and is best remembered for saving his best years for his post-Ottawa career. He arrived from Philly fresh from a broken leg (courtesy of Lance Pitlick) and never really took off with the Sens. He was sent to Florida in 2000-01 for conditional draft picks, which were then traded right back to Florida for Mike Sillinger. I'll be honest, I didn't know Sillie played for the Sens, dressing for 13 games at the end of the season before signing with Columbus in the off-season. Back to Prospal - looking at his career numbers now, he's a legit top six left winger. In Ottawa, he was either an underachiever or underdeveloped because we never had the 80 point player he later became. Nevertheless, he was good enough to crack this roster.

4. Randy Cunneyworth: (276 games, 36g, 59a, 95pts, 360PIM, 1994-1998, 0.3442 pts per game

There are some guys in the honourable mention list that might be better scorers than Cunney, but we're building an all-around team here, not just the highest scorers. Cunney is our captain on this former Sens team and is going to be a critical piece of that fourth line with Kudelski and Peluso (what a hodge podge line!). A former Ottawa 67s star, he came as a free agent and was handed the C. While he never ripped the twine with us, he was our stabilizing force when we went from laughing stock to powerhouse (regular season powerhouse...). Think about how bad we were when he arrived here and how good we were by the time he left. Obviously, most of that had to do with this young Swedish kid named Alfie, a system-oriented coach, years of top draft picks developing, etc. But don't underestimate the importance of having a strong captain during those years. There will come a time when this guy is a head coach in the NHL. Seriously, who wouldn't want this guy in their organization? Perfect candidate when people finally realize that Lindy Ruff isn't that good of a coach in Buffalo and gets let go next summer.

Honourable Mention:
- Sly Turgeon was hard to leave off the list. If we were looking for all scorers, he probably would have received the contract over Cunney, but too many years of tucking in his sweatshirt and slyling his hair cost him dearly. He was our first line winger in our inaugural season and was certainly fun to watch out there.
- Peter Schaefer is a player that I just didn't care for. For years, people would say 'he's the best boards player in the league'. What the hell do you mean, boards player? It isn't like he owned the corners, he'd just skate there and pin the puck on the boards so that neither team could score a goal. That's awesome, except for when 45 seconds go by and your entire shift in the offensive zone hasn't come close to producing a scoring chance. If this guy was worth a look, he would have a job right now. Muckler signed him for 4 years (!!!) and Murray was somehow able to peddle him off for Donovan and, more importantly, a salary dump. Yikes.
- Patrick Eaves gets an HM just for being a hard working kid and getting lumped in with the Corvo trade. Eaves is not a top six player, and we're probably better off with Foligno as he has better hands, but he should do fine in Detroit.

There are boatloads of other left wingers but these are my top four for our roster. Thoughts?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Best Former Sens - Right Wing

Alright, second installment of the best former Sens roster. Today, we're looking at the right wingers. There was a time where we were simply too strong on the right side and while we couldn't afford him anyway, Marty Havlat had a rough time either playing on the third line behind Alfie and Hossa or trying to move to the left side, which he said he hated. The first two guys in the list today are pretty obvious and perennial All-Stars, while the second two are a clear indication of just how young this franchise really is. Without further ado, your former Right Wing Sens that cracked our roster.

Right Wing

1. Marian Hossa: (467 games, 188g, 202a, 390pts, 243PIM, 1997-2004, 0.8351pts per game)
Any argument here? I remember the day quite well when we shipped Hossa out of town. Muckler was in Toronto along with Hossa and his agent, allegedly working in the hotel lobby in the morning before arbitration. Rejoice! We've agreed on a contract, 3 years, $18M, Hossa is staying! Domage, you've been Mucklered out to Atlanta for this great Canadian superstar, a prairie boy that wants to play in the spotlight and doesn't care about money. (crickets). Hossa's agent kinda led him out of town and learned the hard way that you don't muck around with the Mucks. No problem for Hossa, he's only been in the Finals the last two years (don't ask how it went) and is settling in for a lifetime contract on a solid Chicago team. While in Ottawa, he was plagued as a regular season star, though I guess we say that about every single Senator for the last 13 years, save Alfie in the Finals run. Hossa had the best breakout speed of anyone I've seen and was strong, to boot. I never liked, though, his poor passing abilities. I know he's a goal scorer, but even in the Finals last year, he'd gain the blue line and not really know where to look to find a teammate. Regardless, his time in Ottawa was solid and I can say with confidence that more than half of the Sens fans out there now wish Muckler had never made that trade five years ago.

2. Martin Havlat: (298 games, 105g, 130a, 235pts, 166PIM, 2000-2006, 0.7886pts per game)
Havlat was like Marian Gaborik Lite. Amazing talent and a complete and utter inability to play a full season, though he hung on for a while last year in Chicago. If he wasn't suspended for kicking a groin or a cross check to the face, he was putting up a four-spot against the Buffalo Slugs. That's how I remember him - either kicking someone or scoring sickening goals. Master of the dipsy doodle, Havlat never really seemed to get his wings in Ottawa, either because he played behind two better right wingers or because Jacques didn't appreciate the poor backchecking. By the end of Havlat's time in Ottawa, when Muckler said he'd trade him away before he'd lose him as a UFA like he did Chara, half of Ottawa didn't even mind to see him go. The guy was made of papier maché out there and honestly must have nothing left in his shoulders. It would be great to see him light it up in Minnesota this year. He's 80 point potential if he can get in a rhythm and play 80 games. But for his time in Ottawa, while a superb talent, he was too injured too often. Good luck this year, Boots!

3. Andreas Dackell: (401 games, 65g, 115a, 180pts, 104PIM, 1996-2001, 0.4489pts per game)
I'll always remember Dackell for being...hold on, I probably won't remember him at all! AD was like our early version of Chris Kelly, except even more boring. I think the reason he put in so many games in Ottawa is that his 'style' of play was what Jacques Martin dreamed of. Slightly above average speed, European hands, and a complete focus on neutral zone play. If you're trying to think of something great that Dackell did, you'd better put on a fresh pot of coffee. Seriously, though, he was a decent player, performed his duties without complaining, and earned a living. Okay, I found one highlight that is worth watching just to see the welt on the poor guy's head. If you're trying to track him down, he's been with Brynas in the Swedish Elite League for the past five years. Does he have Bob Goodenow's head on a dartboard since the lockout essentially put an end to his services here? Or was it more the chance to move home and keep playing hockey in your native tongue?

4. Mike Peluso: (81 games, 15g, 10a, 25pts, 318pts, 1992-1993, 0.3086 points per game)
I was so excited to put this guy in the list! How bad are we at right wing when our fourth best one is a goon that played one season? In a year where Ottawa was just thrilled to have an NHL team, we had some pretty sweet cult heroes: Marshy, Sly Turgeon, Cunneyworth, and best of all, Mike Peluso. Seriously, how great was it to have a grizzled captain, an iconic curly-haired defenceman, some French dude named Sly, and one of the toughest guys in the league? Peluso was traded after the one year for a package of Billington, Mallette, and some other stuff and went on to win a Cup with the Devils. One of my favourite stats, aside from the 318 penalty minutes in Ottawa, are his playoff stats with St. Louis in 1996-97, which reads 5 games, 25 PIM. Good on Dennis Vial to try and earn the hearts of Sens fans in taking over fighting duties. He was no Denis Lambert, but he did his best to make us forget Peluso. Question - Peluso c. 1993 versus McGrattan c. 2006. Who wins?

Honourable mention to Andre Roy for being a tough little guy and for getting shipped out of town under awful pretenses. Thanks for kicking off what has been never ending rumours about this team's social habits. Roy is, though, a grinder that keeps finding a way to stay in the league and for that, he deserves a ton of credit. Apologies to Andrew McBain for not making the list outside of this one line telling you that he didn't make the list.

Later - the left wingers.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Best Former Senators - Centre

Alright, players report to camp in less than two weeks, so we don't have much more time to kill rehashing the same Heatley smut. Here's how we're going to count down the days - with a tribute to Dany Heatley! Seriously, though, I pulled up a list of all-time Senators statistics (thanks,, for being great). I limited it to the modern day team, since nobody that reads this blog was also around to watch the early edition of the Sens. I then cut out all players with less than 50 games in Ottawa (read: Straka, Stillman, Bondra, Hasek, Barrasso, and offensive juggernaut, Alexei Kaigorodov).

It would be too easy to put together a list of the highest scoring players in terms of points per game since the best three are on the team right now. Instead, let's look at my all-time (modern day) Former senators All-Stars. I'll be completely up front with everyone - this started with simple points/game in Ottawa, then adjusted slightly based on my opinions. For instance - Steve Duchesne had the best points/game of any defenceman in Ottawa, but was he better than Redden or Chara?

Today, we'll start down the middle with the centres and our top four that crack the roster. Every other day, I'll come back with the left wingers, right wingers, defencemen, and goalies. Let me know if I'm missing anyone critical and remember - 50 games as a Senator.


1.Alexei Yashin. (504 games, 218g, 273a, 491pts, 222PIM, 1993-2001, 0.9742pts/game).
Obvious choice here. Regardless of what a hassle he became off the ice, he still goes down as the best centre no longer here. Even after his holdout year, he still managed to come back and put up better than a point per game. The biggest knock on him, besides the multiple holdouts and the NAC donation, was his inability to maintain his scoring prowess in the postseason. Yashin will fondly be remembered for attending CFL games and for netting us our greatest trade. While Bill Muckalt is irreplaceable, Spezza and Chara worked out okay. In case you were wondering, Boris, Yashin put up 21 grapes and 26 apples for 47 points in 56 games for Yaroslavl last season. More astonishing is that in the past two seasons there, he's put up 32 points in 35 playoff games. Damn you!

2. Todd White (230 games, 58g, 86a, 144pts, 78PIM, 2000-2004, 0.6261pts/game).
There is some personal bias in this for me - in White's last year with the Sens, I got an autographed picture of him and got him to write: "To Geoff, K-Town forever, Your Friend, Todd White." Classic. But in all seriousness, it doesn't matter to me that he was a product of centring Alfie, White had speed and decent enough hands to be a second line centre on a team that historically has never had a second line centre. He lasted a little while into the Muckler era, but was never a Muckler player. He isn't a Mike Fisher-esque player that hits like a truck, but instead was more of a playmaker. Again, a lot of his success came from playing with Alfie, but White actually just put up his most successful season with a whopping 73 points in Atlanta (22g, 51a). If you thought White was just in the league because the Sens wanted a local boy to put bums in the seats, then look no further than what he just did with the Thrashers. He's a legit talent, even if he's not top line material. K-Town forever, indeed, Mr. White.

3. Bryan Smolinski (171 games, 39g, 63a, 102pts, 97PIM, 2002-2006, 0.5965pts/game)
Smoke is another one of those second line centres that was probably better suited on a third line in Ottawa. By the time we traded Tim Gleason for him in 2003, his better years were behind him. He still managed to hang around for a while and put up some decent minutes but was never a real scoring threat. Whereas a guy like Fisher (sorry to bring him up again) always leaves you wanting a few more points, Smoke was more of a 'what you see is what you get' kind of player. Like his teammates in the early 2000's era, he'll be remembered for being a part of the playoff teams that stunk. Great dressing room guy, very well-liked, and sadly, he's likely played his last game in the NHL. Smoke 'em if you got 'em, folks!

4. Bob Kudelski: (90 games, 47g, 29a, 76pts, 36PIM, 1992-1994, 0.8444pts/game).
I hesitated on this one just because Kudelski was only here for part of two seasons, but he was a talent and he rocked the Ottawa Civic Centre. I also didn't want to put up Bonk and Vermette, though they get honourable mentions later. Kudelski, in all honesty, didn't do much for us other than be a beacon of hope during a period of utter failure. While most of us were just thrilled to have a hockey team, Kudelski was kind of the first, talented acquisition in franchise history. It was as if someone said, "you know that you're allowed to try and win games, too, and here's Bob Kudelski to help." Fact is, Kudelski didn't help much in the W column, but was most definitely on pace to actually become a 50-goal scorer before Randy Sexton saw it reasonable to trade him to Florida for Scott Levins and Evgeny Davydov, neither of whom will be on our lists here. Imagine that, we could have had a 50-goal scorer in our second year! As it turns out, 50-goal scorers aren't necessarily all they're hyped up to be...right, comrades?

Honourable Mentions:
Antoine Vermette: Nice kid, never blossomed into anything more than a third line centre and avid penalty killer. Sure, he seemed to find some ice time in Columbus, but that was more about catching on with a hot team and proving your worth. Vermette will forever be a 45 point player making over $2M, a checking line centre that can't check.

Radek Bonk: Quick 'did you know' - Radek Bonk still sits as fourth all-time in games played in Ottawa. If he hadn't wasted so much time, he might have worked his way into the top four. You might say it is unfair to put a jackass like Yashin at number one but leave Bonk out completely. Both put up significant points but Yashin was an elite centre while Bonk was just some dude that skated aimlessly for months at a time. 23 points in 61 playoff games didn't help. Most importantly, he was just one of those guys that you didn't miss when he was traded. His numbers were decent but you would never pick him on your team heading into an important game. The only reason we drafted him is because Jovanovski and Tverdovsky mysteriously went 1-2 in the draft, leaving us with the forward we were sure we wouldn't need to take. Not to get all 'we should have drafted that guy' on you, but Ryan Smyth went sixth overall after Bonk went third. Do you think our playoff series with the Leafs might have gone slightly differently had we taken Captain Canada instead of Captain Crunch?

End of a Gator - Jason Smith retires

According to the Ottawa Sun, Jason Smith will retire prior to the season, scheduling a 10am press conference today. In a perfect world, Gator would have been with us 10 years ago and helped us battle through the old Toronto series. Instead, he'll sadly be tied to having an expensive contract and ending on a sour note - on the IR of a losing team. Of course, fans will also see the silver lining of $2.6M in cap space being freed up since Smith signed at 34 years of age (contracts signed at 35 or older cannot come off the books upon retirement).

We'll miss ya, warrior!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Five Minute Major - Q&A with TSN's James Cybulski

Another Sens Blog is pleased to present a one-on-one exclusive interview with TSN's James Cybulski. I'm sure you've all seen James anchoring the SportsCentre desk, covering the World Juniors or doing a piece on the Leafs. James is a hometown boy who started his career doing colour commentary for the 67's. Today, he was able to take time out of his busy schedule to discuss the 2009-10 Sens, Clouston and what really goes on behind the SC desk. Thanks James!

Interview in full:

Another Sens Blog #1: Where will Ottawa end up in the Eastern Conference?
James Cybulski: I think it all depends on what they get for Heatley and whether leclaire can bounce back from injury. That edmonton deal could’ve worked wonders and addressed a lot of needs. At this point, I think they’re good enough to battle for a 6th-8th seed in the east.

ASB #2: Stats-wise, what do you expect from Spezza, Kovalev and Leclaire?
JC: Spezza should be good for somewhere in the 85 point range and kovalev should benefit as well with 70 points or more. Kovalev will be motivated to prove the habs wrong so he should be solid throughout the year. That said, they might both be -30 playing together. I’m still unsure on leclaire given the fact that he’s never taken a team to the playoffs and is coming off a serious injury. A goals against average of 2.8 and a save percentage of .905 would be solid in my eyes

ASB #3: Is Ottawa a better team with Heatley? Or would the team be better off with a return similar to what Edmonton offered?
JC: Having a 50 goal scorer is never a bad thing, but he has essentially turned his back on everyone so the sens would be much better off without him if they can find a package similar to what they got from edmonton . Remember, heatley wasn’t much of a factor when it mattered in the playoffs, and while he scores a pail of goals for canada , his track record in big games at the worlds is something to be desired as well.

ASB #4: What are Ottawa ’s keys to success?
JC: What do they need to make the playoffs? Secondary scoring, good goaltending and someone needs to emerge as a top flight defenceman.

ASB #5: Who is Cory Clouston? Is this guy for real, or should Ottawa expect another coach?
JC: The jury is still out on Clouston. The squad responded better after he replaced Hartsburg, but I don’t think its about coaching. Too many underachievers last season.

ASB #6: Is Murray ’s job secure? Or is he hanging on by a thread?
JC: There’s constant talk of this guy being turfed and yet he assembled a team that went to the cup 2 years ago. That said, no more coaches can be fired—if the club stumbles, he needs to go.

ASB #7: Is Toronto ’s hatred of Alfie based on jealousy or disgust?

JC: I think it’s mostly disgust for Alfie…which I find hard to understand because he’s such a good dude. Having said that, the one leafs nation used to refer to as Krusty the Clown, has helped make this one of the better rivalries in the east by giving Toronto a villian to boo.

ASB #8: Does Dan O’toole wear pants behind the desk?
JC: Onrait is the better one to ask, but the last I heard is that he’s usually wearing a red cod piece—much like the one cameo wore in the Word Up! video

Our sincere thanks to James for answering our questions and providing insight from a TSN insider. What do you think of his comments? Agree or disagree? Let us know how you would respond to these questions...