I know what you’re thinking: Why in the bluest of blue hell’s is that blue team from Toronto on the header for this article? Has Brandon flipped to the dark side? Are we witnessing the greatest heel turn in the history of hockey blogging?
No — not today, anyway. But there is a reason behind the appearance of the team better known as the Boston Bruins’ cannon fodder, so continue reading this week’s edition of Five Thoughts for Friday to find out.
So it’s now May 3rd, and the vacant position of Ottawa Senators’ head coach is still yet to be filled. The list of potential candidates is long, but much shorter when you consider the the number of folks willing to work for this organization.
One of the candidates that has emerged in the last week or so, is Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith.
The Senators' coaching search continues.https://t.co/mECr31dewo— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 28, 2019
On the surface, this might not be a bad hire for the Senators. Smith spent three years with the Oshawa Generals, and won a Memorial Cup with a squad whose only current established NHL talent is Anthony Cirelli. When the Sens were searching for a head coach in 2016, the Leafs declined their request to interview Smith.
The downside on Smith, who played 45 games in the NHL from 1996-2003, is that he is the coach behind the talented Leafs’ biggest weakness: their defence. While Smith has found success throughout his coaching career, questions should be raised about a man who has had the likes of Jake Muzzin, Jake Gardiner, and Morgan Rielly on his unit without getting past the first round.
The 41 year-old may end up being a good hire for Ottawa, and their options are sure to be limited, but it’s important to weigh his defensive risks when considering that the Senators are the worst defensive team in hockey.
The search for the Senators’ next President of Hockey Operations continues. I’m not sure as to why, considering it’s the beginning of May and we’ve yet to even hear anything regarding a shortlist of candidates. Names like Ron Francis are out there, but again, those with hockey pedigree that will be willing to come to Ottawa are likely few and far between.
When pressed on the matter, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman insisted that the organization is committed to the process of finding a new PoHo, and seemed confident in their abilities.
Whether that’s misplaced, or Gary knows something we don’t, is unclear. We’ll see what happens going forward.
Du-ing it All
The knock on Matt Duchene throughout his career has mainly been his attitude. The Colorado Avalanche finally began to find playoff success after moving on from the 28 year-old, who expressed a desire to be moved to play playoff hockey.
Now, on the third team of his career, Matt Duchene is finally back in the playoffs, and is rising to the occasion. Of the four game-winning goals in the Blue Jackets’ second-round series against the Boston Bruins, Duchene has two, and is leading the charge offensively on a front-loaded team.
With nine points in eight playoff games, Matt Duchene is red-hot, and is dispelling any notions of some sort of curse following him around.
I saw a tweet the other day, wherein someone referred to the World Hockey Championships as the “Loser Olympics”. While that’s hilarious, and may be laden with even just a little bit of accuracy, it’s still a fantastic achievement for any player fortunate enough to be invited.
Unsurprisingly, more than a few members of the Ottawa Senators received their call to arms, and will be playing for their respective nations this year. Colin White (U.SA.), Christian Jaros (Slovakia), Thomas Chabot (Canada), Rudolfs Balcers (Latvia), Mikkel Boedker (Denmark), and Christian Wolanin (U.S.A.), will all be headed to Slovakia to play for gold.
Congratulations to all players attending, and best of luck to all.
But mostly to Chabot.
Off the Market
Look, I’m tired of talking about this. I’m really, really tired of talking about this. But people keep asking the question, so I keep having to address it. If it keeps up though, I’m injecting myself with a lethal amount of poison, and watching Trailer Park Boys until I drift off to sleep.
No, the Ottawa Senators are not going anywhere. It makes no sense for Gary Bettman and Co. to entertain the notion of relocating the team, as they’re not ignorant to the plight of a Melnyk-owned team. This is a viable team, in a viable market, with a viable fanbase. They’re not moving, and Commissioner Bettman said as much (again).
And please, stop with the “moving to Quebec nonsense”. It’s the biggest open secret in hockey that Quebec City is next in line for an expansion franchise after Seattle. They have an NHL arena ready and waiting, something the Seattle group can’t say themselves, and can only be ignored for so long by the NHL.
Doubt me, that’s fine, but you watch. Even if I’m wrong about Quebec, the Senators are staying right where they are. Full stop.