Five Thoughts for Friday: Key Markets, Assistant Coaches, Sportsnet Coverage

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Five thoughts about the Senators, community, and hockey in general.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

1.    In 1994 the NHL was making considerable inroads in the United States and the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup, ending a 54-year drought. A championship in one of North America's biggest sports markets should have been a financial windfall for the NHL. But the 1994-1995 NHL lockout stopped any chance of the league building on New York's victory. In 2012 Angeles won its first Stanley Cup, fulfilling the dream almost achieved by Wayne Gretzky 19 years before. The league was as profitable as it had ever been but because of the 2012-2013 lockout, the NHL didn't capitalize on a win in the country's second-largest market. The Kings-Rangers final is a huge victory for the league, regardless of who wins. Hopefully the NHL brass won't find a way to mess things up a third time.

2.    Despite what has been reported in certain Ottawa newspapers, I don't for a minute think Sens management expected Ales Hemsky to take a hometown discount to sign with the team. I don't believe that a player should take any kind of discount at any point to sign with a team, but to suggest that Hemsky should after playing just 20 games with the Sens is ridiculous. If reports are accurate, Hemsky is asking for $5.5 million which is essentially what he's making now, it's not even adjusted for inflation. Hemsky confirmed he's moving on during his final media availability. This is just both sides going through the motions and a paper making noise about it because the Sens have been done for two months.

3.    I was looking at NHL.com the other for some preview links for the Cup Final open thread and I came across an interview about the Rangers by Craig Ramsay. Ramsay was a left winger for the Buffalo Sabres for 14 seasons in the 1970s and 1980s. To younger fans he's probably best known as the final coach of the Atlanta Thrashers. He worked as an assistant in Ottawa for a few years in the mid-90s and has worked as an assistant and head coach for several teams in the league. He's had success in Philadelphia and Boston, and won a Cup during his time in Tampa. He won the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward in 1985 and his coaching philosophy has always been to emphasize defensive play. Some of the defensive issues for the Sens last season were structural. I'd be interested to see what a defensive specialist coach do as an assistant in 2014-2015.

4.    On Tuesday, Sportsnet announced its play-by-play team for the fall. Armed with a 12-year deal from the NHL, the network had an opportunity to start fresh. Instead, we've got familiar faces from the CBC (Bob Cole, Jim Hughson) and familiar faces from TSN (Dave Randorf and Paul Romanuk). This spring has been something of a retirement party for Cole. I think most were under the impression this was his last Stanley Cup Playoffs and that allowed many hockey fans to fondly recall a voice that's been with them since childhood. The intensity and tempo of the Chicago-Los Angeles series perfectly suited Cole's play-by-play strengths. However, because of his age, Cole won't be a permanent fixture for Sportsnet. The much younger Randorf and Romanuk are decent play-by-play guys and don't have the regional attachments of other candidates (although Romanuk called Habs regional games for a few years more than a decade ago). Both aren't quite household names among hockey fans yet, but they're not exactly unconventional choices either. It's about as status quo as a new regime could be and the bulk of the group (Hughson, Randorf, and Romanuk) could be in place for quite a while. I wrote about this in March when Sportsnet announced its main hosts and the return of Don Cherry and Coach's Corner. The more we learn about Sportsnet's 2014-2015 lineup, the more conventional it seems.

5.    With trade talk heating up and concerns over money on the top of everyone's mind, sometimes things can seem quite bleak for Sens fans interacting on the internet. But there are a lot of things to be positive about too. There's good work being done by Kevin Lee, bringing together the larger Sens online community with the Sens Summer Fan Fest. We tend to think of the internet as separate from real life, but given how much time we spend online, it's become part our regular, everyday lives. I initially got involved with Silver Seven and on twitter because I lived far away and wanted to talk about my team. But it's become much more than that for me and I've gained a lot of great friends in the process. There are always dark days, but those days aren't so bad with you lot.

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