As has been the case for much of 2020, this past week has yielded a few notes of positivity, with more than enough doom and gloom to match. In the case of the Ottawa Senators, one of their youngsters is trending in the right direction, while a group of others were on the wrong end of some tough news.
Plus, what would an NHL season be without the threat of an imminent labour dispute? All that and more in Five Thoughts For Friday, November 27th, 2020.
When it was announced that Tim Stuetzle had suffered a break in his hand that would require surgery, Senators fans from Kanata to Kabul held their collective breath in nervous anticipation. Sure, it was supposedly a relatively minor injury, but who could have faith given the misfortune that this fanbase has reaped over the past few years/decades/millennia?
Fortunately, Ottawa’s adopted German son appears to be on the mend.
"There's no way that I can't play World Juniors"— Locked On Senators (@SensCentral) November 23, 2020
On todays #LOSP, Timmy Stützle confirmed his rehab is going very well and hopes to be back on the ice with his Mannheim teammates very soon.
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Speaking to Ross Levitan and Brandon Piller of the fantastic Locked On Senators podcast, and rocking a serious drip while doing so, Tim Stuetzle all but confirmed that he will be recovered for the upcoming season with time to spare, and fully expects to represent Germany at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship.
While this is obviously welcome news, it also does away with any doubt that Stuetzle will, in fact, be playing at the World Juniors in a month’s time. Get hyped, Sens fans, because the future of the franchise is about to tear it up on the world stage.
Beasts of Burden
Much attention is projected to be on the Belleville Senators this season, and deservedly so, but there were also plenty of intriguing storylines developing within the Senators’ ECHL affiliate, the Brampton Beast. With highly-touted prospects like Kevin Mandolese set to join the roster next season, the Beast were projecting to be a fun team to watch.
Unfortunately, that will have to wait.
As we’ve previously mentioned, the Brampton Beast will be sitting out the 2021 season, along with the rest of their North Division counterparts.
Who this decision really hurts are prospects that are on a longer development track, like Mandolese, for whom the AHL may be a year or two away. No word on if or where these players will lace them up this season, but the Sens really do need to find them a place to play.
Gud Vibes Only
The signing of Erik Gudbranson was met with a mix of malignance and apathy by fans of the Senators, and while the 28 year-old may lack high end skill, it seems that he makes up for it in his overall likeability.
This is, of course, to say nothing of the fact that Gudbranson is a local boy™️, and as Bruce Garrioch reports, is ecstatic about the prospect of playing in his hometown.
“It was a blessing in disguise for us on a number of different fronts,” Gudbranson told Postmedia in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “My wife (Sarah) and I are expecting our first child at the end of March, so with what’s currently going on, it’s nice to be close to both friends and family, and have the support here for us.
“From a hockey side, this is one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve had in my career so there’s a lot of positivity on my end coming here.”
Garrioch also relays that Gudbranson has been skating with some of his new teammates, Thomas Chabot and Artyem(?) Zub, at Bell Sensplex (sessions that will soon be moving to home ice at the CTC).
For all of Gudbranson’s apparent flaws in terms of on-ice performance, it seems he’ll fit like a glove in Ottawa’s locker room, and the broader community.
The Dor-p-ion and the Frog
Are you ready to get hurt again?
For this week’s Longform Wednesday, our own NKB asked an interesting question: Do you trust the Ottawa Senators? It’s a query that has admittedly made me sit back in my chair, look skyward, and really try to discern whether or not my recent optimism surrounding the team has been misplaced.
It reminds me of that familiar fable, The Scorpion and the Frog. For those unfamiliar with the tale, the Cliffsnotes moral of the story is to not trust those who have given you reason to be distrustful. When analyzing things through that lens, it seems only natural that Sens fans wouldn’t, and perhaps shouldn’t, be so willing to give the team the benefit of the doubt.
Then again, with the way things have worked out of late, is it possible that this franchise has finally turned the corner? With shiny new uniforms that came at the behest of the fanbase, a shiny new franchise prospect to go with an already loaded pool, and it seems that reasons for optimism are at an all-time high in the capital.
For me, and I’m sure for most of you, it will come down to ownership. If the time comes for Eugene Melnyk to spend big money in order to aid his team, and he does it, that’s when we’ll know that this train is barreling down the right track, rather than crashing into a ditch.
Time will tell.
C.B.A-re You Kidding Me?
Excuse me while I pour myself a drink for this next thought.
Look, I won’t bore with the gory details because honestly pandemic fatigue is at an all-time high and this story vexes me beyond a reasonable degree. You can read the full details from Elliotte Friedman here, if you’re some kind of sadist, but basically what you need to know is the NHL has tabled amendments to the current CBA that are...not favourable to the players.
Obviously there are two sides to this. The COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to anyone’s finances, save for those poor unfortunate one-percenters, and changes likely have to be made somewhere.
But here’s the thing, the NBA has figured this out. Why is the NHL the only league routinely having these labour disputes? One way or another, they need to get this figured out. Not having a season is simply not an option.