We’re officially at the stage of the offseason where there’s so little Sens news that I’ve resorted to wild speculation and strange tangents.
Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had this week.
I think I need hockey to come back. Soon.
The Under 25s
This week saw the continuation of a longstanding Silver Seven Sens tradition, which is our annual Top 25 Under 25 ranking. If you haven’t sent in your ranking yet, you can do so here, and you will soon get to see how the staff voted and shame me for my choices, at least one of which I had second thoughts about the very moment I sent in my ballot (you will know which one. Trust me).
Indeed, a common refrain among staff writers and readers alike was: this is very, very difficult. Not because there isn’t any talent in the top 25, but because there is so much of it, and it’s so hard to measure the players against each other.
Ottawa seems to have a really good combination of young players who have proven themselves in the NHL, and extremely talented prospects that could turn into stars. Obviously, not all prospects pan out and you can’t always predict future success based on a team’s prospects, but this is very encouraging. I’m very excited to see how this translates into NHL success over the next few years.
Please, Pierres, just give us the contracts already
Speaking of the team’s future, at what point should we be concerned about the lack of news regarding a Tkachuk extension? Or a Batherson extension, for that matter?
I’m not going to go into why these contracts are important, because it’s been said before and I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about it. I will, however, plug the latest episode of the Zubcast, because in it, they make a good point about how the front office has basically been building this team around Brady Tkachuk for the last few years.
I have been thinking about the possibility of a bridge contract, though. Obviously, I want Brady locked up long-term for a multitude of reasons, including the message it would send, the fact that Brady would probably be named captain, and the promise of finally not having to talk about this anymore. However, even from a fan perspective, I can kind of see the merits of a bridge deal.
If Tkachuk signs a bridge deal, he’s not saying that he’s definitely leaving at the end of it; he’s just saying that the team needs to prove itself before his next contract. A bridge deal gives the organization a deadline to sort itself out and prove that it’s willing to spend. I, personally, do not trust this organization, and maybe a Tkachuk bridge deal would actually motivate them to build a winning team.
Basically, what I’m saying is that if Brady Tkachuk ends up signing a bridge deal, that means he’s for the people. But if he signs here long-term, he’s also for the people. Brady Tkachuk is for the people.
Hockey culture continues to be broken
I know that this story about the Chicago hockey club keeps coming up in just about every LNN and Five Thoughts piece. I don’t blame anyone for skipping this part, for any reason. With that said, new information keeps coming to light, and I feel like it would be irresponsible not to keep paying attention.
According to Rick Westhead over at TSN - who has done a great job covering this so far - former Blackhawks skills coach Paul Vincent has come forward to say that, when he found out about the alleged abuse, he reported the situation to the team psychologist and the director of security. Those two then went to the team executives, who covered up the story. There’s a lot of damning information in the article, including that the team allegedly gave Aldrich a positive job reference after they fired him, and that the organization claims they were not responsible for the abuse of the player.
This obviously looks very bad for the Blackhawks organization, but it’s really important that we look at this as a systemic issue. If you can’t even rely on the team psychologist to protect the players’ well-being, I don’t know what you’re doing. Why was nobody in this organization willing to advocate for the players? Why was everyone so ill-equipped to deal with a situation like this one? And why was Aldrich able to keep working with hockey players?
I’m not surprised, but I am horrified at how little anyone in this organization apparently cares about the actual players. Protecting the players should have been the top priority while this was happening, and making sure this doesn’t happen to more players should be the priority going forward.
Going full tinfoil hat
Turning back to some Sens speculation because, hey, it’s the offseason and we’ve got nothing else to talk about, what are the chances Ottawa actually gets involved in a potential Eichel deal?
On the surface, this seems like a pipe dream. I mean, Eichel has just had a very bad experience playing on a badly managed, rebuilding team. He also may never have this much control over his future again. I’m sure he wants to go to a contender with a good reputation for treating players well, and at the moment the Ottawa Senators are neither of those things.
But on the other hand… if there’s one superstar that would be open to a trade to Ottawa, it has to be Jack Eichel, right? He’s pretty close in age to fellow Americans Tkachuk and Norris, and kind of fits the identity the team is going for.
Before the rebuild, the Sens were building a bit of a reputation as a team full of misfits and reclamation projects - think Turris, MacArthur, and Ryan, who had all had bad experiences on past teams, and even Stone, who was a late draft pick and not expected to make the NHL. Things have obviously changed since then, but I can kind of picture the organization trying that again with Eichel. Maybe we could finally make him happy.
On the Sens side of things, Injuries are obviously a concern, but Eichel has so much upside that I feel like you have to take that trade if it’s an option. We know the Sens are looking for a first-line centre, and he fits the bill better than anyone else on the market.
And yes, I know the main reason there hasn’t been much speculation about Eichel going to Ottawa is that the Sens can’t afford him. But the thing is, I feel like if this team is actually serious about competing, money can’t be a factor in this type of deal. Melnyk promised us that he would start spending to the cap in 2021. That hasn’t happened. For years, he has been saying that he will start spending money when it’s time to compete. Isn’t now the time? Even after re-signing their RFAs, the Sens are one of very few teams with enough cap space to make an Eichel deal work. Bringing in Eichel would send a message to the players and the fans that this team is actually serious about spending enough money to compete, and hey, isn’t that exactly what Brady Tkachuk is waiting to see before he signs his next contract here?
In conclusion, it’s not going to happen, but an Eichel trade would solve all of our problems. Go sens go.
Just guys being dudes
I actually considered having all five of my thoughts be about this photoshoot, because I haven’t really had any other thoughts since I first saw these pictures. Behold, former Senator Dominik Hašek doing a photoshoot with Czech soccer goalie Petr Čech.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “what?” and I can assure you that that was my initial reaction as well. However, thanks to the help of a few people on Twitter, as well as my own research skills, I can provide a little bit more background information.
As it turns out, this photoshoot is actually from 2010. How it has escaped our notice until now, I have no idea, but I’m determined to make it a part of Sens lore.
The photoshoot was, as far as I can tell, done for a food calendar. The photographer is named Josef Ptáček. At the time, Hašek had already retired, of course, and Čech had just won the Premier League. Apparently, Čech has always been a big fan of Hašek’s - he almost played hockey because of him. They did an interview about it when the calendar was first released, and while the article is in Czech, the google translate versions of the quotes are pretty great.
Also, there are more pictures. Click through the whole gallery. You won’t regret it.
Of course, I still have a few questions, though.
There are pictures of each of them in four different outfits, so was this a multi-day event, or did they just change outfits between pictures? Why are some of the pictures so blurry? Why did they choose those blues clues looking ass t-shirts? What is in that picnic basket? Is there some kind of symbolism in a hockey player and a soccer player balancing a hockey puck on top of a soccer ball on top of their clasped hands? Whose idea was it to balance a wine glass on a goalie stick, and how expensive is the wine in the glass? Who are the other people in that one picture of them walking through the forest?
Dominik Hašek, if you’re reading this, please get in touch with me so I can interview you about these pictures. It’s urgent.