Now Senators can play Blame Game
The hockey season ended last night for the Ottawa Senators, and theywound up with precisely as many playoff victories as the Toronto MapleLeafs, the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks.
The hockey season ended last night for the Ottawa Senators, and they wound up with precisely as many playoff victories as the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks.
The Sens were thoroughly outplayed in their post-season series by the very team they eliminated in the first round of last season’s playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Like efficient janitors, Sidney Crosby et al swept the Sens into the dustpan in the minimum four games, including a 3-1 triumph in Ottawa last night.
Jim Hughson, a clever chap who called the Pens-Sens games for CBC, summed it up nicely. This series, he said, was “a little bit about how good Pittsburgh is and a lot about how far Ottawa has fallen since Christmastime.”
Unlike their aforementioned Canadian-based counterparts, who failed to progress to the post-season, the Sens entered 2007-08 as one of the major favourites to advance to the Stanley Cup championship series, for which they qualified last season. They began the season strongly enough, 15-5, but they deteriorated around Christmas into a lowly, listless, lifeless lot.
And so now the Blame Game begins.
There will be changes in Ottawa, for sure.
Backup goaltender Ray Emery, whose late arrivals to practices and scraps with teammates have been cited by talking head Don Cherry and others as major reasons for the Sens’ general troubles this season, almost certainly will be discarded.
But there are those who also are wondering about the way stars such as defenceman Wade Redden and even centre Jason Spezza have regressed.
And then there’s Bryan Murray, the team’s general manager/coach. He’s the one who persuaded owner Eugene Melnyk to fire John Muckler as GM after last season, when things weren’t nearly as rotten. He’s the one who dumped formidable grinders such as Mike Comrie and Peter Schaefer. And then he replaced John Paddock as coach in mid-season, only to lead the Sens nowhere.
Melnyk, though, insists Murray is safe. Melnyk admits he asked Murray to supplant Paddock and assured him he’d remain the team’s GM, regardless.
So, now, Melnyk is stuck with Murray, like it or not.