Ahhh, not that there was any doubt to begin with, but the Ottawa Sun has finally lost its final marbles. Tim Baines has taken to the blogosphere to defend his paper, his writers, and their overall professionalism while attacking, ironically, the bloggers that call him out. It pains me because we are still left with no real alternative. The Ottawa Sun still has extensive coverage of the team and has far more access and sources than any part-time blogger, right? But it isn't like the Ottawa Citizen is this amazing alternative. The Citizen is like the mediocre looking girl in science class that hangs out with the really ugly girl to make herself look passable. The Citizen...is passable. The Sun is just tabloids for sports. But at the end of the day, they don't make up rumours that Spezza is 99% likely to be traded at the draft (thanks, Eklund) and they still have locker room passes. The rest of us on the blog are just left with a growing fan base and a dash of hockey intelligence.
In the meantime, what is new in Hockey Country?
1. Jason Spezza. I had almost gotten to the point where I would have been okay had he been dealt this past weekend. Brassard and Columbus' first rounder? Sure. Horton and the 3rd overall? Maybe. Savard and Boston's mid first rounder? Probably. It isn't that I don't like Spezza. I actually love his style of play and think he has the talent to win an Art Ross at some point. But my concern becomes that we have this elite centre and he has no elite winger to match his skill. Is it worth it to us to carry a $7M superstar who has no matching playmate? Heatley was an elite winger and when he left, so did the need for Spezza's cross crease one-timer passes. If we could have gained cap space AND found some a decent centre in return that could play with a Michalek, Kovalev, Alfredsson, Fisher, Cullen type player, is it that bad of a deal?
2. Anton Volchenkov. Why are we still talking about him? He's already thinking of his new team and his pay raise. I was miffed at how Murray couldn't at least get a mid round draft pick for his negotiating rights, but it must just mean that he and Grossman have made it abundantly clear that he won't sniff a contact until July 1st. But even then, Hamhuis was traded twice and still hasn't signed! I would be disappointed if we find out that Murray had no intention of renegotiating with A-Train AND turned down even a shitty draft pick considering he's walking for free on Thursday.
3. Matt Cullen and Andy Sutton. We're all saying the right things, but these dudes are headed elsewhere. I couldn't really care less about Sutton if he is seriously looking for a raise on $3M. He was a bruiser and a great shot blocker, but he's at a point where he needs to start settling into that Adam Foote lifestyle but without the gold medal. $2M is fine, but a raise over $3M is nothing we need. Cullen, on the other hand, is a great fit. A nice second line centre that kills penalties and can handle the point on the powerplay. He is good for 50 points per year and to me, that is worth a few hundred thousand over $3M. Hell, Kovalev can't kill a penalty and puts up the same offence for $5M! I would love to see Cullen back but I'm not getting my hopes up given the way Murray has worked the last two UFA seasons.
4. Marc Savard. Sure, it would mean the end of Matt Cullen, but who wouldn't take this guy on a $4.2M cap hit? Healthy, he puts up 75 points a year. Hurt, and he might really still be hurt, he is LTIR and off the books. That isn't what people want, but Cup winning teams have their strength down the middle. Goalie, defence, and centres. We sure as shit down have the goaltending and our blue line is years away from being great, but wouldn't it be nice to find a way to get Savard and Spezza on the same team? If Chiarelli is looking for a soft trade because he can't have Seguin's three years up and still have Savard, then take Kovalev for this year alone.
5. Bryan Murray. I'm kind of growing tired of him, to be honest. I'm tired of his tactics to try and light a fire under Spezza's ass (there are 101 better ways that he could have accomplished this) and I'm not happy with the fact that we look to be a weaker team this year (stars are older, losing a top dman, goaltending still a mess). I know everyone speaks volumes about how he and Tim have 'restocked the pantry', but the guy inherited a Cup finalist and now hasn't won a playoff series in three straight seasons. Could the dude not have found a way to be competitive now and still build for the future? I'm forever optimistic about this team but I'm curious as to what kind of direction Murray really is taking it. Are we lunchpail? Are we defence first? Speed? what?
Looking ahead at UFA Day, it is funny to see that the hype is so much lower than it was last week for draft-day trades. Obviously, Kovalchuk (who has two playoff game wins to his name) is the big piece, but I'm curious how soon the four Sens UFAs go.
In the meantime, let's go back to reading the Sun and Citizen and save time for all those Sens blogs that are warranting this tongue-lashing...