There was a time when the Ottawa Senators were not good. Sometimes it seemed like they'd never be good. Flubbing a sure thing like Alexander Daigle, constant feuding with the team captain, their top pick refusing to play for them... it was a mess.
Then came Jacques Martin. He brought structure and discipline to a team of punks. Martin knew he didn't have the talent--especially in goal--to go toe-to-toe with the powerhouses of the league, and so he took a much different approach. Rather than try to beat them at their game, he would play the game not to lose. This consisted of trying to keep the other team from scoring, and trying to create neutral zone turnovers for scoring opportunities instead of simply trying to attack with the puck. In short: the trap.
Needless to say, this approach was very effective. But it required the right kind of personnel to pull off. So it's no coincidence that after Martin's first full year, the team added Swedish forward Magnus Arvedson. (That draft also added Marian Hossa--an ideal counterpuncher--and Jani Hurme--an attempt to address the goaltending situation. Not much mystery in the team's long term plans.) Like Daniel Alfredsson, Arvedson played in the Elitserien until he was older, and he made Ottawa's team in his rookie year.
Arvedson made an immediate impact, scoring 11 goals and adding 15 assists in 61 games, but his real contribution was in the Senators' first playoff win, taking down the best trap team, the New Jersey Devils, by beating them at their own game. The team was then crushed by a Washington Capitals team able to shut down captain Alexei Yashin's top line, but the blueprint had been laid out.
Arvedson had impressed Martin so much that he earned a bigger role the following season. He responded by putting up 21 goals and 26 assists to finish fourth overall in team scoring. More importantly, Arvedesson was nominated for the Selke Trophy--which he just barely lost to Jere Lehtinen--while finishing plus-33 on a Senators team that won the Northeast Division with a record of 44-23-15, good for 103 points. That team was then shamefully swept by the Buffalo Sabres. You may remember that series as the one where Yashin was held pointless, justifiably prompting him to hold out for more money.
Meanwhile, Arvedson's effectiveness was limited by injuries over the next two seasons. When finally healthy again, he again received votes for the Selke Trophy, making him one of the few Senators in trophy voting more than once. He played one more season with the Senators in 2002-03, but at that point, new general manager John Muckler had come on board and it was more and more obvious the Sens were transitioning to one of those offensive teams they had to trap to beat just a few years back.
Arvedson is generally remembered for his awful playoff numbers, but people forget that was not his role on the team. He was a crucial piece of the Jacques Martin puzzle, and a major contributor to the success that matured the team's young players into the stars they are today. Plus, he has one of the manliest first names ever.
Ottawa Senators headlines
- Alfie answered your dreams when he decided to play again. Now he shatters them if you were optimistic about the NHL's CBA proposal (Citizen)
- Welcome To Your Karlsson Years gives us Robin Lehner trying not to look at Jakob Silfverberg's junk. (WTYKY)
- This awesome German article heaps the praise on Erik Condra pretty heavily. He even got picked up at the airport! (Or will, depending on the time of day.)EV Füssen is really excited to have an NHL player in their lineup, considering the NHL names they've had on the team in the past. (Eishockey-magazin / translated uselessly)
- The lockout has added some extra talent to Binghamton, if you didn't know. (Sun)
- ... but that's keeping other people off the roster. (Press Connects)
- Tim Baines doesn't let a recap of a conference call with general manager Bryan Murray and team president Cyril Leeder stop him from talking about Ottawa's newfound "lack of toughness." (Canoe)
- More arena drama in Edmonton. (Copper & Blue)
- Why does the NHL want to shorten entry-level deals? To keep itself from overpaying kids like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. (Puck Daddy)
- The always awesome Elliotte Friedman suggests a common-sense approach to bargaining. Like that could ever happen. (CBC)