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As per Argus' request, here is the unpublished column that would have appeared in the May 14 Sun, had the Sens gone up 3-2 in their series.

The Shawshank Redemption was a movie about hope, but I can’t quote it here. ESPN’s Bill Simmons has made it his life’s work to squeeze Shawshank references into everything. I think if I did it, I’d have to pay him royalties.

Therefore I’m left to quote another favourite – The Usual Suspects. Suspects is hardly hope-filled, but it did have a stellar line dropped by the mangiest of the Baldwin brothers – Stephen Baldwin. His character said this, when faced with what seemed to be an impossible task:

“There’s nothing that can’t be done.”

The Ottawa Senators aren’t about to head into a 91 million dollar drug heist on a boat. But they are continuing to face an uphill battle, game by game.

However, when the metaphorical snap of femurs occurred due to fans and media jumping off the bandwagon after three losses, you have to wonder how many are now currently parked in front of the couch with an entrée of crow.

Thursday’s meltdown was unlike anything this city has experienced. As far as many were concerned, Game 4 was simply a formality. You’d think it had already been played.

ESPN’s Scott Burnside described Daniel Alfredsson as “The face of Senators’ futility”, and surmised that if Alfie were to ever clutch Lord Stanley above his head, it would be “somewhere else, in a different jersey”. Sportsnet’s Ian Mendes referred to himself in his blog as “an idiot, for thinking this Senators team was going to win a game when it mattered.”

Was Alfredsson worthy of the criticism? Absolutely. As the team’s leader, he was expected to play a key role in rallying the troops when the team was down 3-0. And time after time, the Senators came onto the ice, without demonstrating a killer instinct. Worse still was the captain’s actual play, which lacked passion, and more importantly, offensive effectiveness.

But in the midst of a series, regardless of whether the team was on the brink of elimination, could we not have waited to discuss the ultimate legacy and future of Daniel Alfredsson in Ottawa? Can we save the trade scenarios until the Sens have completed their post-season play?

As for the belief that the Sens can’t win when it matters, that’s a difficult opinion to disagree with, because the Senators’ playoff history speaks volumes. But again, the timing of such a statement is critical. The series was incomplete. As of today, it still is. And how fair is it to criticize this team for not believing, when so many were ready to throw in the towel before they were even done?

If Alfredsson had put his shot three inches inside the post at the end of Game 3, we likely wouldn’t be discussing his future as a Senator. If Ray Emery had gotten his glove down on the tying Buffalo goal that led to overtime, and an eventual Sabres’ victory in Game 1, perhaps he could have squelched some of the negativity towards him.

And if the bandwagon jumpers had said their piece before a Senators’ Game 4 loss on Thursday, they would have appeared ahead of the curve – fully armed with their, “I told you so” retorts on Friday.

But that’s not the way it’s worked out so far.

Timing is everything right now. The Senators are trying to prove to themselves, the fans, and the NHL that their time isn’t up yet. The very least their supporters can do, is stick with them until the actual finish – be it good, bad, or extremely ugly.

4 responses to "If they had won"

  1. This one is more upbeat in tone (obviously) but the printed one was much, much more powerful. I can tell your heart just wasn't in this article - giveaways to me would include all the pop-culture references and nods to other sportswriters. The printed one was more raw. More honest. And superior.

    You may not have snapped any leg bones jumping from the bandwagon, but it was evident in comparing these two pieces that you decided you were no longer along for the ride...

    Bandwagons: Why the stigma? When you're on the bandwagon, you've got the horns playing, the sun is shining, and everybody else has to walk while you throw confetti on everybody. Shouldn't the bandwagon be the place to be?


  2. Pretty hard to go up 3-2 when you're down 3-1!

    reality check

  3. Bad phrasing of words by me. I'm surprised it took RC this long to notice it.

    The Universal Cynic

  4. I would have gotten to it sooner had I not stopped to watch Shawshank Redemption and Usual Suspects while both my broken femurs were healing! Now that I'm almost at 110%, I think I might be ready to play. Now where's that bonus!

    reality check