The following is a transcript taken from a mid-intermission interview with Sens' president Roy Mlakar, during the Sens-Capitals game on Rogers 22 last night. This was the answer given when the issue of potential future free agents Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza (UFA and RFA respectively) came up:
"Quite frankly, I find it amusing that the media has continued to talk about what’s going to happen after this great year, because I think the fans want to see what’s going to happen (this year). We’ve kept the core of the team together -- (GM) Bryan (Murray’s) done a hell of a job getting most of the guys back into the fold. Getting (Mike) Fisher long-term is tremendous. Not too many people have done what Mike (Fisher) has done here. Getting Chris Phillips done and (Anton) Volchenkov done long-term and just coming back as a Stanley Cup (participating) team, I think the fans are really excited. They really don’t want to hear what’s going to go on a year from now."
So are we to assume if the media chose not to discuss the futures of Wade Redden, Dany Heatley, Chris Kelly, Jason Spezza etc., that the fans wouldn't do it on their own? We're led to believe that fans don't wish to contemplate the future, or readily admit that their beloved team may ultimately have one more serious kick at the can before the vultures begin counting down the days to Dany Heatley's first day of freedom in July '08? Perhaps I should forward some choice missives from my inbox to members of the Sens' front office, because when it comes to my readers at least, the future -- and its relevance -- is now. The ironic thing is, as a columnist, I've barely brought the issue up with the exception of two Mike Fisher-based columns in the span of three months. The e-mails I've been receiving of late are totally unsolicited, but nearly all have inquired about the futures of the Senators' UFAs and RFAs.
Ottawa fans aren't about to take the Scarlett O'Hara approach of, "I won't think about that today; I'll think about it tomorrow." The potential loss of a back-to-back 50 goal scorer is an ominous threat to any team, regardless of when it will occur (and keep in mind that No. 15 is only one of many issues). If Heatley doesn't produce, Ottawa will be bitter over their "last big chance" potentially being wasted. If he thrives, they'll eventually be heartbroken because they know he'll be impossible to keep. I know we all like to question the fans' intelligence, but they're more than capable of coming to these conclusions on their own while discussing them to a vast degree, despite what may happen this season. Fans will want to know what's going on, and more importantly, they're eager to learn about the future of Dany Heatley and others in this city (if any). Frankly, to suggest otherwise borders on a high level of naivete.
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