Prior to the start of the 2011-12 NHL season, Senators head coach Paul MacLean made his position clear. In his introductory press conference, he laid it out there: It was no longer the Ottawa Senators versus their head coach, it was the Ottawa Senators versus the rest of the league.
After a rough start to the season, a players-only meeting was held, and the players bought in. The result was that what many expected to be a lottery team instead made the playoffs, and not as a sacrificial lamb--they had the top-seeded New York Rangers on the ropes three games to two at one point before losing in seven games.
Last season, the Senators suffered injuries to Jason Spezza just five games into the season, and Erik Karlsson just 13 games in. Neither player was expected to return before the end of the season, and Karlsson was not expected to return at all. Once again, the Senators were ticketed for a lottery selection.
Instead, they made the playoffs yet again, and this time advanced to the second round. This despite losing starting goaltender Craig Anderson for a good chunk of the season not long after Karlsson's injury. Why? Again, the team bought into MacLean's message. Again, it was simple: We can't feel sorry for ourselves because of the players we lost. We have to look among ourselves to find the answers. We can't replace the missing players, but we can still trust in our system to give us a chance to win.
And it did.
Now, once again, MacLean has a challenge to face. The captain, the heart and soul of the team, Daniel Alfredsson is gone--and on the way out said the team wasn't close enough to winning the Cup. Count on MacLean to do two things: Pick the right new captain for his team, and turn Alfredsson's departure into the latest motivating tactic among his players.
MacLean has shown a great ability so far to find the silver lining on every cloud that's crossed his team's path. That's probably a trend that will continue with this latest challenge.
- Don Brennan makes a strong case for Jason Spezza as the next captain. [Sun]
- Dave Young adds fuel to the fires of suspicion that he's actually Bobby Kelly by giving us an awesome prospect report out of last week's development camp. That's right, there was a development camp this week. [S7S]
- Ken Warren suggests the Senators are a better team after this weekend. [Senators Extra]
- Some moron suggests that Senate Reform is over, and a new era in Ottawa Senators history has begun. [S7S]
- Bobby Ryan is coming in hot. When was the last time someone sounded so genuinely excited to play in Ottawa?[SE]
- Ellliotte Friedman thinks the Senators made a major misjudgment in the Alfredsson negotiations. [CBC]
- Ian Mendes also thinks Alfie's departure could motivate the Senators, except he says it better than I do. [Sportsnet]
- Nick Cotsonika reads between the line on the spin from both camps. [Yahoo! Sports]
- Harrison Mooney suggests Alfie did the Sens one last favor by choosing to play the role of bad guy in the breakup. [Puck Daddy]
- Wayne Scanlan says we should stop worshiping athletes as heroes. I disagree. Why cheer for anyone, then? [SE]
- The always-excellent Peter Raaymakers wonders if the Sens played hardball with their legendary franchise player, and if so, what does that mean? I wonder if he'll talk about the effect it might have on the team's reputation at some future date? [S7S]
- Varada says Alfie is entitled to do what he wants, including pursue the Stanley Cup. I could not agree more. [WTYKY]
- Radek Bonk's Mullet wants to know which body part you'd mutilate if Alfie left. I don't understand how no one answered "Radek Bonk's Mullet" to this question. [RBM]
- Allen Panzeri recaps just how Alfie became Alfie. [SE]
- Ian Mendes describes what Alfie was like behind the scenes [Sportsnet]
- Anton does not appear surprised by Alfie's decision. I thought they were blood brothers? [Twitter]
Betrayal be Swede. When will world learn? Anton is still owed by Carl 13000SEK. Will never see money. Know this.— Anton (@_JustAnton) July 5, 2013
- Ha ha, yeah right.