Late last week, former coach Craig Hartsburg played his end of the blame game, but I think he was a bit more reasonable and professional than GM Bryan Murray--and a lot more professional than John Paddock--in explaining the Senators' demise under his tutelage. Hartsburg, as quoted in the Ottawa Citizen:
"If everybody learns from it, they will be better," Hartsburg said. "But if people don't want to take responsibility and want to point fingers elsewhere, they're in denial. I'm not in denial. There are things I should have done differently. The key is for everybody, right from the top on down, to take responsibility."
"I came in with a plan, a vision of what would work when I was hired," he said. "There was no structure (before), they needed a tighter defensive structure. That was clear to me when I arrived. There are things that I could have done differently, but I was always honest and I came with integrity in my work. I said it after I was fired. I feel bad, I feel like I let a lot of people down. I think I'm a good coach, but it's unfortunate that it didn't work out for me.
"Two years ago, they had success with a wide-open style (going to the Stanley Cup finals). I was brought in because of who I am. I have had success at different levels, with teams playing a structured game."
Sort of what I said last week. Easy to blame a coach who fails, but he did everything he said he was going to do before the season started: Implement a defensive system. It just wasn't right for this team, but that's not all Hartsburg's fault. It's mostly Murray's fault, for not assessing the Senators' style properly, and also the players' faults, for not falling into place in Hartsburg's system.
A whole whack of Senators are being considered for the upcoming World Hockey Championships in Switzerland from April 24-May 10. The Ottawa Sun has reported that Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher, and Chris Phillips would all be interested in playing for Canada, the Ottawa Citizen has said Android Volchenkov will play for Russia provided he doesn't malfunction before the season ends (knock on wood), and most people expect Daniel Alfredsson (Sweden), Jarkko Ruutu (Finland), and Christoph Schubert (Germany) to be invited to their respective teams. And I wouldn't be surprised if Ryan Shannon and Nick Foligno get a good look from Team USA.
Of course, sympathies go out to all those affected by the shooting rampage in Binghamton that left fourteen dead and many other wounded. A few Senators who started the year in Binghamton offered their thoughts to the Ottawa Citizen:
"It is pretty unbelievable," said [Brendan] Bell, an Ottawa native who could be returning to Binghamton in a couple of weeks for the American Hockey League playoffs. "Something like that than can happen anywhere, I guess. But it's so different when you're connected to it."
"It's very sad, I know exactly where the building is," [Cory Clouston] said. "It's three blocks from the arena. I've driven by it dozens of times. It's right near where I got my dry cleaning done, near the mall, right by the high school."
The Battle of Ontario is alive and well, renewed with Ottawa Senators fans feeling slighted by college prospect Tyler Bozak's decision to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Ottawa Senators. From Five for Smiting:
You could have come to a team whose owner burns for Lord Stanley's Mug with the heat of a million suns and has stated publicly that he will not rest (or even better...stop spending money) until that dream becomes reality. Instead, you picked a faceless, monolithic pension fund who once tried to buy most of Argentina just because they could and whose Board of Directors wouldn't know Wendel Clarke if he hit on their fathers. Nor would they care as long as the money kept rolling in.
You could have come to a team with the most offensively gifted first line in the NHL to learn from THE Captain, Heater, a back-to-back-almost-to-back fifty goal scorer and, uh, Giggles (I said offensively gifted). Instead, you picked Lee Stempniak and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
You could have come to a team with a brand new coach with everything to prove, and whose main philosophy is "Hey look! A puck! Let's go get it!". Instead, you picked a narcissistic cyborg who won't hesitate to toss you into a wood chipper if he thinks it will further his career.
Ouch. Let the name-calling begin, Bozo.