FHM Ottawa Senators Historical Challenge, December 1996: Out With the Old

The teardown begins.

Franchise Hockey Manager 6 is a text-based hockey management simulation game by Out of the Park Developments. It’s a lot of fun, and I find it super realistic. I recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a good way to kill time while social distancing.

In the game, you take over as GM and/or head coach of pretty much any hockey team on the planet, and make roster moves to bring your team a championship. The CPU plays the games for you, but you craft the team.

One of the coolest game modes is the Historical Challenges, wherein you take over as GM of a team at a particular point in their NHL existence, and attempt to relive or rewrite history. For the purposes of this play-through, we’ll be taking over the Ottawa Senators in the Fall of 1996, and attempting to win a Stanley Cup no later than the Spring of 2007.

For the purposes of this little exercise, I’m going to play through this mode, trying to win a up for the Sens, with help from you - yes you - the readers! At the end of every edition, I’ll ask you questions about key roster moves, and make it based on how you respond!

We’re going to take this on a month-by-month basis, with a new instalment coming out every week, so make sure you let me know in the comments what you want to see, and any suggestions you have to achieve this goal! I want to make this as interactive an experience as possible, so I really want to hear from you!

Here goes Month 3!

After the epic collapse that took place in November, you all voted, and it’s time to start a youth movement.

With that in mind, we’ve put most of our true veteran players on the trade block. We’ll be trying to go ahead with guys roughly 26 and younger.

We’ve also recalled John Madden, to play a few games in place of the injured Tom Chorske.

The growing pains continue, opening the month with a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Steve Duchesne, Sean Hill, and Andreas Dackell scored, but we fell just short against Lemieux and Co.

Two nights later, against the Edmonton Oilers, things didn’t go much better. Shawn McEachern and Duchesne hit the scoresheet, but the Oilers more than doubled up the Senators this night. We also lost Janne Laukannen for a few games, due to some vision issues. Radim Bicanek draws back in.

The losing streak finally halts at 10 games, with a 4-4 tie in Vancouver against the Canucks. Ron Tugnutt stopped 25 of 29 shots, and we got markers from Dackell, Yashin, Sergei Zholtok, and Chris Phillips potted his first NHL goal. Unfortunately, the captain, Daniel Alfredsson, will miss some time due to an ear injury.

On the flip side, Tom Chorske has returned to full health, and will return to replace him.

A streak ending is an opportunity to start a new one, right? The trend of more competitive games continued in Calgary, but yielded a 6-5 overtime loss. Tugnutt let his team down again, with Chorske, Yashin, Robert Lang, Bruce Gardiner, and Sean Hill collectively putting up five goals.

Friday the 13th was a fitting omen against the Phoenix Coyotes. Shawn McEachern scored twice, and Jason York added another, but it ended in a 4-3 defeat, despite outshooting the Yotes.

The young blueline struggled two nights later against the Dallas Stars. Chorske, Yashin, and Duchesne found the back of the net, but the Stars doubled up the Sens, and won it 6-3.

In need of a spark, we made a change. A few of you said that you thought trading for defencemen was going to be key, so that’s the direction we’ve taken, sending Tom Chorske to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in exchange for the youngster, Ruslan Salei.

Salei is young, but is having a decent season, and his potential will have him rounding out at Chorske’s skill level, into a solid second pairing defenceman. He adds nicely to a rookie core of Phillips, Wade Redden, and Sami Salo.

Sending off a player who’s having a good season like Chorske comes with a price, and the Senators fell to the Florida Panthers, despite the return of Daniel Alfredsson. Yashin scored, and Salei himself didn’t have a great game, but there will be an adjustment period.

A shoutout is deserved to Eldur00 for this next move, as he was right about Sean Hill not being a great option. His ability is capped out at 2 stars, and his ratings per game have been low, so we packaged him with a 9th round pick to Calgary, and ended up getting a 2nd(!) due to their desperate need on defence. Look at their record, this could end up being a great pick, or a nice piece to package in a trade down the line. Laukannen returns in Hill’s place.

The Buffalo Sabres were keen to rain on Ottawa’s parade though, handing us a 6-1 beatdown. Jason York scored in the effort.

Another close game, another loss. We played likely our most competitive game of the year against the Montreal Canadiens, but ended up with a 5-4 defeat on the road. Yashin scored twice, with the other goals coming from Dackell and Eric Weinrich. Steve Duchesne was also credited with a solid effort in this one.

This is getting painful. The New York Rangers hand us our seventh straight loss, again by one goal. Weinrich scored his second in as many games, and Tugnutt had one of his better outings, but Wayne Gretzky and co. narrowly edged us out on home ice.

The bleeding finally stopped with a 5-2 win over the Hartford Whalers. Damian Rhodes had a nice game, with Laukannen scoring twice, and supporting fire coming from Alexandre Daigle, Yashin, and Randy Cunneyworth.

Woooo no back-to-back losses! Tom Chorske may have scored to burn his old squad, but Daigle and Yashin scored found the back of the net, to fight the Mighty Ducks to a draw.

A lot of you are going to hate me for this next trade, but hear me out.

This one, again, is credit to Eldur00. He recommended going after a young Bryan McCabe, and this one is going to pay off in spades. I know we all love Radek Bonk, but his potential is capped out around 2.5 stars, and we have five or six other centres with similar projections. There won’t be any real quality players available in the late rounds of these drafts, so I’m fine with giving low picks for now.

In terms of McCabe, his potential has him rounding into a top pairing defenceman, and in these historical challenges, the potential is usually pretty accurate. Even if he only caps out around three stars, it adds to a stacked group of defence prospects.

Beyond that, the month of games is over, and now I have a few questions for you.

First thing’s first, we still need a goalie of the future. I identified two options over the month, in Pittsburgh’s Patrick Lalime, and Anaheim’s J.S. Giguere.

There are positives and negatives to either. Lalime will likely wind up as the better long-term option, but will cost more. That Calgary second rounder could come in handy if that’s the road we want to take. We all know Giguere’s credentials (too well), and he’s the younger option, but it would appear Lalime’s ceiling is higher.

Who do we trade for?


Another question, there is the issue of Shawn McEachern.

McEachern is what I would classify as a borderline player in terms of a rebuild. He’s 27 and starting to heat up, so likely could be had for good value as the trade deadline approaches. On the other side, he could be a nice boost to a young forward core, even with the fear of a possible regression.

So, what do you think?

Do we...

Trade him45
Hang on to him23

All in all, the Senators finish December at 1-9-2. Leaving us dead last overall.

Top Performers: Alexei Yashin (12GP 8G 11A), Shawn McEachern (12GP 4G 6A), Daniel Alfredsson (12GP 0G 8A)

Worst Performers: Ron Tugnutt (0-7-1, SV%: 0.868, GAA: 3.75), Michael Nylander (12GP 0G 1A),

Who to Watch: Steve Duchesne (12GP 3G 3A), Randy Cunneyworth (12GP 1G 6A), Robert Lang (12GP 1G 3A)

Farm Report:

Three months down! Make sure to vote on both polls, and give us your thoughts in the comments section! Look out for the January 1997 edition next week

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