Silver Nuggets: Is competition in Lehner's best interests?

The consensus thinking for Ben Bishop playing in Binghamton is that it will be good for Robin Lehner's development. But why?

Remember when Robin Lehner couldn't beat out Barry Brust for the starting job? Remember In Brust We Trust? Remember when Robin Lehner couldn't beat out Mike McKenna for the starting job? Remember when General Manager Bryan Murray admitted Lehner's development hadn't gone as they hoped because he was moving up and down and not getting regular playing time?

Tell me again how having Ben Bishop, who was outstanding in the AHL last year--it was Bishop's AHL numbers that prompted Murray to trade for him when starter Craig Anderson cut his hand, as Bishop was considered the best goalie not playing in the NHL--cutting into Lehner's playing time is good for Lehner's development?

Let's clarify something here: I am not suggesting Lehner should be handed the starting job or that he doesn't need competition to improve. But based on what I've seen out of Lehner this preseason and Bishop last year, Bishop is the better goalie right now. He's going give the B-Sens the better chance to win right off the bat, and that's not good for Lehner's development.

What Lehner needs is playing time. Talent is not his issue; consistency is. He's already shown that he can be a dominant goalie in short stretches. What he needs to work on is developing an even keel--being dominant in that third game in four nights against some basement team after a long bus ride. Consistency beats talent at the NHL level almost invariably, and make no mistake, Bishop represents a bigger challenge to his opportunities for consistency than Brust or McKenna ever did.

That doesn't mean Bishop shouldn't be playing in the AHL. He, too, needs to play to develop. At the current stage of both players' development, playing time--as much as possible--is the order of the day. Repetition is what builds consistency. There's no guarantee that Lehner is Ottawa's goalie of the future, so it would be a big mistake to put all their eggs in that basket. Continuing Bishop's development is in the best interests of the organization, except it now appears that development is going to come at the expense of someone else.

And that's a shame.

Ottawa Senators Headlines

  • Even though I just blathered on about Bishop, Peter talks about the signing. (S7S)
  • Sylvain St-Laurent has similar worries as I do, but points out that great goaltending could foster a winning environment that would help the team's other prospects (La Presse)
  • Meanwhile, Nathan Lawson, who was already brought in to compete with Lehner, is the odd man out, and he's not going to report to the ECHL. Not sure what he thinks he's going to accomplish with that move. (True Hockey)
  • Binghamton opens their season tomorrow against their arch rival(?), the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (though apparently they go by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which is NOT WHAT I GREW UP WITH) Penguins. You'll probably see a recap here, but you should familiarize yourself with the team through this great preview article. (Ithaca Journal)
  • Speaking of Kurt Kleinendorst (smooth transitions are my specialty), this may or may not have been in previous Nuggets, but the guys over at The 6th Sens did an interview with him, and it's really, really worth your time listening to. (6th Sens)
  • Francois Brassard, one of two goalies drafted by the team this year (Chris Driedger was the other) is off to a great start in the QMJHL. What if... Ottawa has good goaltending depth for the next decade? Can you even wrap your head around that? (Citizen)
  • Finally, the Montreal Gazette is so desperate for hockey they're simulating games in NHL 13. Virtual Ottawa beat Virtual Montreal, 2-1 on goals by virtual Jason Spezza and virtual Erik Karlsson. I simulated my own season in NHL '96 and Ottawa went 82-0-0 and won the Stanley Cup. The team should think about reacquiring Rob Gaudreau and changing back to the old logo based on my simulations. (Montreal Gazette)

League Headlines

The season was supposed to start yesterday, but instead there was a lockout. (Ball Hockey Leagues in the USA, Ball Hockey in Ontario, Ball Hockey in BC)

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