FHM Ottawa Senators Historical Challenge November 1997: Heating Up

The goaltending steals the show.

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 jump back in, with November of 1997!

You voted, and you want Jeff Friesen from San Jose. More on that later.

The month kicks off with a shutout for Ron Tugnutt, but a 0-0 tie for the Ottawa Senators.

The first win of November comes against the Phoenix Coyotes, with another solid night from Tugnutt. Alexei Yashin, Eric Weinrich, and Daniel Alfredsson scored in a 3-1 victory, but Glen Wesley was unfortunately knocked out of the lineup with some groin soreness, and listed as day-to-day. Radim Bicanek was called up to fill his spot.

Make it two in a row on home ice, this time against the Philadelphia Flyers. Goals from Niklas Sundstrom, Alexandre Daigle, and Markus Naslund helped Damian Rhodes earn a 3-2 win.

The winning streak rolled into the team’s first ever visit to Carolina. Martin St. Louis scored in regulation, while Michael Nylander potted the game-winner in overtime, for a 2-1 victory. Tugnutt was lights-out again, stopping 25 of 26 Carolina shots. The injury bug bit once again, however, with Wade Redden being sidelined with some back tightness. Stan Neckar was recalled.

The Sens beat the Flyers for the second time in three games, extending the winning streak to four, two nights later. Alexei Yashin scored twice, with Bicanek and Bryan McCabe also finding the back of the net, ultimately culminating in a 4-3 victory.

Glen Wesley returned against the Red Wings, sending Neckar to the pressbox, and we were rewarded with a 2-1 win over the struggling Detroit Red Wings. Tugnutt had another one-goal affair, with Chris Phillips potting his fifth of the year, before Miroslav Šatan scored the winner.

All good things must come to an end. The five-game winning streak crashes to a halt in Boston, with the Sens getting shelled in a surprising 6-1 defeat to the lowly Bruins. To make matters worse, 2-star defenceman Ruslan Salei was lost for 1-2 months with a broken toe. Daigle had the only Ottawa marker this night.

The struggles against Boston continue, culminating in a second straight defeat. Robet Lang lit the lamp, with Šatan scoring twice, but the Sens came up just short against a Boston team starting to roll.

Wade Redden’s return to the lineup ended with the Sens stopping the skid in its tracks, smashing the first-placed Pittsburgh Penguins by a final score of 5-2. Ron Tugnutt was brilliant in the face of a high-powered offence, stopping 46 of 48 shots. Markus Naslund powered the offence with two goals, while Rob Zamuner, Yashin, and Wesley tallied markers of their own.

With their second consecutive 5-2 victory at home, the Sens beat up on Curtis Joseph and the Edmonton Oilers. Tugnutt continued his stout streak, while Phillips scored twice, to go with goals from Sundstrom, Wesley, and Yashin. On a down note, however, Daniel Alfredsson suffered a strained rib cage muscle, and was placed on the injury list, staring down a 2-3 week absence. Chris Drury was called up for his first taste of NHL action.

Matters were made worse by a 3-0 loss in Detroit. Not much to report here.

Responses don’t come much better than this. Ron Tugnutt earned his second shutout of the month, and third of the season, in a 7-0 win over the Washington Capitals. Weinrich and Zamuner each tallied two goals a piece, with insurance markers coming from Phillips, Yashin and Lang.

Some positive news on the captain, as he returns to non-contact practices.

The final game of the month ends with another emphatic beatdown, and a shutout from Tugnutt. Šatan had two goals, with others being found in Nylander, Bicanek, Daigle, and John Madden, en route to a 6-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

So, those are all the games for the month of November, which makes it question time.

I sent an offer to the Sharks for Friesen, and they accepted, but the choice is up to you folks.

Halpern is projected to eventually cap out at Friesen’s current ability (2.5 stars), while Friesen himself is projected to be a three-star player. The picks, as we’ve established, will be relatively worthless to us.

Do we

Complete the trade59
Decline the trade, go for someone else5
Discuss the trade again, give up different assets (specify in comments)1

Now, let’s turn to defence. Ruslan Salei is our number-four defender, with a two-star rating, and no room to grow in terms of potential. His absence is felt in having to push the likes of Redden and Bicanek (1.5 stars each) into increased roles. It’s always good to have solid defenders, which makes a trade seem appetizing, but on the flip side, Salei isn’t gone long, and Redden and Bicanek have been okay.

But, as always, I leave it up to you.

While Salei is gone

Trade for a defender9
Stand pat, not worth it57

Finally, on a less important note, you may have noticed that some of my post-game screenshots were different this week. The larger ones that include who had a good game vs who had a bad game, and the smaller ones that include the box score.

Which screenshot do you prefer?

Good game vs bad game24
Box score19

The Sens close out November with a record of 9-3-1, 16-7-4 overall, and 36 points. This leaves us second in the Northeast Division, third in the Eastern Conference, and fifth overall.

Top Performers: Ron Tugnutt (7-1-1 .960SV% 1.22GAA 3SO), Alexei Yashin (13GP 7G 9A 16P), Glen Wesley (10GP 2G 5A 7P) Miroslav Šatan (13GP 5G 7A 12P),                                             Chris Phillips (13GP 4G 4A 8P)

Worst Performers: Magnus Arvedson (13GP 0G 1A)

Who to Watch:  Rob Zamuner (13GP 3G 4A 7P), Markus Naslund (13GP 3G 3A 6P),                       John Madden (13GP 1G 4A 5P)

Farm Report:

Two months down in 1997-1998! Make sure you vote in the polls, and have your say in the comments!

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