FHM Ottawa Senators Historical Challenge, January 1997: In With the New

New blood, and a step in the right direction.

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 Cup 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!

Let’s kick off Month 4!

With the youth movement fully underway, you folks voted on some key moves.

You wanted to trade for Patrick Lalime, and try to ship off Shawn McEachern, rather than keep him. Stay tuned to see how that turned out.

After the relative chaos that was December, this is what the new (and hopefully improved) Ottawa Senators lineup looks like. Chris Phillips will get a couple games in the minors, with Martin St. Louis and Bruce Gardiner drawing in.

1997 kicks off with a 4-1 win over the struggling Boston Bruins. Alexei Yashin, Steve Duchesne, Michael Nylander, and Robert Lang lit the lamp, with Yashin achieving his 200th career point.

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Senators didn’t have back-to-back losses (not sure what happened to the goalie section). Martin Brodeur had an off night, and we took advantage in a 4-4 tie with the New Jersey Devils. Yashin scored twice, with Andreas Dackell also chipping in, and Daniel Alfredsson breaking a more than two-month goalless streak.

Even more miraculously, Damian Rhodes shut out the New York Rangers for a 3-0 win the very next night. Lang, Dackell, and Alfie hit the scoreboard once more.

You asked for it, you got it. We traded Steve Duchesne to the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft, and a ninth in the 1998 draft, in exchange for budding young goaltender Patrick Lalime. Again, it’s hard to hit with late-round picks in this game mode, so throwing these in for a stud of a prospect isn’t giving up a lot.

In the absence of Duchesne, Yashin has been named alternate captain, and Phillips gets called back up to the big club. Lalime will begin in Worcester.

The good (?) fortune continued that evening, in the form of a 6-6 tie with our expansion sister team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. It wasn’t a great night for Ron Tugnutt, but Yashin and Lang tallied two goals apiece, with Dackell scoring as well, and St. Louis scoring his first NHL goal.

The defending Stanley Cup Champions take no prisoners. Not much to say about this one.

Another loss followed two nights later, but it was a better effort from your Ottawa Senators. It wasn’t Rhodes’ best night, giving up six goals against the Penguins, but Randy Cunneyworth, Sergei Zholtok, Bruce Gardiner, Eric Weinrich, and Janne Laukannen scored in the defeat.

Your wish is my command, dear readers. Based on your vote, the Ottawa Senators sent Shawn McEachern and a seventh-rounder in 1999 to the Edmonton Oilers, receiving 22 year-old Miroslav Šatan in return.

Šatan (pronounced shuh-tan, you animals) is currently in the midst of a career season, and  his potential has him tracking to end up better than McEachern.

He’ll slot onto the second line with Cunneyworth and Lang.

Šatan played well in his Senators debut, tallying an assist on a Lang goal, but his new squad fell to the Bruins by a final score of 3-2. Zholtok had the other Ottawa marker.

Two days later, the Washington Capitals also got the better of our Sens by a score of 5-2. The game was pretty even, Šatan scored his first as a Senator, and Bryan McCabe tallied another, but the Caps outgunned us on this night. Alfredsson was nicked up, but is still cleared for action.

In yet another matchup with our division rivals, we got back on the winning side against the Bruins. Tugnutt had a great night, stopping 30 of 31, while Šatan, Lang, Alfredsson, and Laukannen put four goals up on Robbie Tallas.

No streaks starting here, after a hard-fought overtime loss to the Calgary Flames. Ottawa was the better team, but Rick Tabaracci stole one for his team with a shutout.

Continuing with the trend of “free hockey”, we got back in the win column with another victory over the Lightning. Zholtok, Michael Nylander, St. Louis, and Gardiner found the scoresheet, with Tugnutt getting another W to make up for the last couple months.

The next game, facing the Devils once more, didn’t go as well. Suffering a 4-3 loss, though Lang, Laukannen, and Yashin lit the lamp.

January concludes with another notch in the loss column, in the form of a 3-1 defeat to the St. Louis Blues. Alfie hit the back of the net, but the better team took this one.

Okay gang, question time. First, let’s talk about Randy Cunneyworth. The 35-year-old obviously doesn’t factor in to our long-term plans very much, and has a decent overall rating.

Unfortunately, due to his age and relatively poor performance, his trade value is fairly low. This gives us a couple options:

For Cunneyworth...

Package a pick to increase his value24
Cut your losses, get what you can35

Now, in terms of what we’re looking to trade for, there’s also a decision to be made. We’ve added some quality young players in the likes of Marty St. Louis, Patrick Lalime and John Madden, to go with Wade Redden, Chris Phillips and Sami Salo. As it stands, our draft pick situation is as follows:

So, with any upcoming moves:

Should we be targeting...

Young players/prospects36

The Ottawa Senators conclude January with a record of 4-7-2, a major improvement over the last couple months. It leaves us second last in the division, conference, and league, with only the Bruins lower in the standings.

Top Performers: Alexei Yashin (13GP 6G 9A), Robert Lang (13GP 7G 5A), Daniel Alfredsson (13GP 4G 7A)

Worst Performers: John Madden (13GP 0P), Ruslan Salei (13GP 0G 2A), Randy Cunneyworth (13GP 1G 1A), Alexandre Daigle (13GP 0G 3A)

Who to Watch: Martin St. Louis (13GP 2G 6A), Miroslav Šatan (7GP 2G 4A)

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