On the ice, it's easy to call this week a success for the Senators. They won two out of their three games, beating one of the top teams in the Western Conference (Los Angeles Kings). But that doesn't mean that we don't have some questions about this team, both on and off the ice.
Looking at the Sens' record this season (17-11-5) and Dave Cameron's overall record as coach of this team (49-26-13), anyone would call his time here a success so far. From last year's magical run to the team holding a playoff spot right now, Dave Cameron has brought some success to a team who was steering far away from it when he came in. But it's no secret that fans have called some of his decisions into question recently.
Continuously playing Mark Borowiecki and Jared Cowen together for the first few months of the season was the first one. And although that combination has finally parted ways (for the most part), we are now forced to watch Borowiecki play forward. In 33 games this season, he has one a assist and is a -4 overall. So that gives you an idea of how well this experiment is going.
The decision not to play Shane Prince more often has certainly come under fire, given his performance in the games he did play. (The tweet below was as of December 17.)
Despite Shane Prince and Chris Wideman proving that they can compete in the NHL, we've seen them both sit out of many games where Cowen and Borowiecki continued to play. Finally on Friday, things changed in that department. Cowen was a healthy scratch and both Wideman and Prince dressed for the game against San Jose. Wideman scored a goal, and Prince got an assist on that goal.
In one game, they both proved why they deserve spots in the line-up more than Cowen. But as we've learned before, this doesn't mean that they will continue to play. All we can do is hope that Friday's game was evidence of the line-up changes that need to happen.
If you want to read more about Dave Cameron's time here as coach, and some of the other questionable decisions he's made, Trevor wrote about whether or not he is the right coach for the job. Give it a read and let us know what you think.
Future Home of the Senators
After the National Capital Commission started accepting proposals for Lebreton Flats, the Senators organization wasted no time in getting involved. It's clear that the end goal is to build an arena on the land, and move the Sens' home arena to a more central area of the city. But things took an interesting turn this week, when news broke that the other bid for the land involved an NHL-style arena as well.
This means that an organization, represented by DCDLS group, could be looking to build an NHL arena and charge the Senators rent to play there. However, Eugene Melnyk made it clear that the team will not play in an arena that they don't own. He shared his thoughts in an interview with Ian Mendes during his annual Melnyk's Skate for Kids. Nichols of the 6th Sens transcribed the interview and shared his thoughts on Melnyk's comments as well.
Melnyk crossed a few lines in the interview. For starters, he called the other bidding company a "liar." The NCC, and all RFP documentation, advises that those involved refrain from discussing the process publicly to ensure anonymity of both parties.
Putting all that aside, the news of the other party wanting to build an NHL arena has many fans and Ottawa residents puzzled. Who would build an arena that the city's NHL team doesn't play in?
The issues surrounding Lebreton Flats and the NCC are quite fascinating, and always ongoing. Spencer Callaghan wrote about the history of the relationship between the NCC, Ottawa and this particular piece of land. It's a good background piece for those trying to better understand the situation.
At the end of the day, we probably won't find out their intentions, or the results of the bidding process, for a long time. But that won't stop us from speculating over the next few months.
Wanted: Top-Four Defenseman
Breaking News: The Ottawa Senators need to improve their blue line (sarcasm). Outside of Karlsson and Methot, the Sens have yet to find reliable defensemen to complete their top-four. Yet it seems like management has not taken active steps towards making this happen.
Sooner or later, Bryan Murray will have to accept the state of this team's defense, and make a move towards improving it. But what would that cost? Ottawa isn't the only team in need of a top-four defenseman, and it's not like they are going on sale any time soon. It would take a significant trade to bring a player like this to Ottawa.
In chatting with other fans this week, I've heard Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone being thrown into the mix of possible trades (all speculation, no actual rumours). With Hoffman's impending contract talks, it's hard not to wonder if the team would rather just trade him while his stock is so high, for a player that will fill an obvious hole on this team.
Would it be awful to lose a player like Hoffman while he's playing so well? Yes. Will we have to make a sacrifice in order to improve the defensive core? Yes. At this point, there is no way to know what, if anything, will change on the roster this year. But sooner or later, we may have to face the fact that making this team better defensively might cost one of our top forwards.
Personally, I would like to see the team write Hoffman a blank cheque. But I am trying to come to terms with other possibilities. (It's going to take some time.)
Bryan Murray's Future with the Sens
Pierre LeBrun mentioned on Insider Trading that Bryan Murray will make a decision about his future with the team very soon. His contract is up at the end of the year, and he has been battling cancer for over a year now (that we've known about).
There is talk of him stepping aside and letting Pierre Dorion take over, which wouldn't be much of a surprise. Dorion has worked very closely with Murray over the last few years. He took over much of the workload while Murray was undergoing treatment. He knows the team and how it works like the back of his hand, and it would only make sense that he take over one day.
However, there has been backlash to that rumour as well. This team is in need of a change in mentality. What's on the ice, and what fans are seeing, does not line up with the decisions made my management. If Bryan Murray steps aside, should they look elsewhere for a new GM rather than in-house? More importantly, will they?
By now, you've probably heard about Advanced Chats, the Sens blogger show on TSN 1200. This week, Ian Mendes invited me and @Fffeisty onto the show to share our thoughts on what it's like being a female sports fan. We also talked about the current state of the Senators.
The discussion was great, and allowed us both the opportunity to talk about our experiences with hockey and the Sens. That being said, we are just scratching the surface. It will take many more shows to truly dive deep into the issues surrounding gender and sport. But, it's a start. While I hope that we both did the subject justice, I also hope listeners remember that these are just the experiences of two people. Everyone has different stories to tell on this topic, and not everyone will relate to ours.
You can listen to the show on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. EST, or online shortly after. Stay tuned for the link. If you haven't heard the previous shows, I highly recommend giving them a listen. We hope you enjoy this week's show!