Fusspot rants, embarrassing photos of yourself and general correspondence go here: universalnicks@gmail.com



This is an idea I pilfered from my dear friend - and Sporting News Radio superstar - Sean Pendergast (um...I mean Brian Beckner...), but tweaked just a bit to make it my own. (You can take the girl out of traditional media...) Anyway, I think you'll catch on quick. Let's get started, shall we?

* Hockey ultimately benefits from Canada losing at the World Junior Hockey Championships, because competition, not dynasties, are the lifeblood of any sport. FACT.

* TSN's bloated coverage of the tournament, combined with this country's bravado (largely shouted into a vacuum of indifference) has made it difficult for me to support Team Canada. FACT.

* Team Russia's celebrations should always be watched with subtitles. FACT.

* The swearing by NHL players/coaches on HBO's 24/7 never warranted such a bombastic reaction. FACT.

* 24/7 provides completely unguarded insight into NHL players' lives. CRAP.

* The only way you're going to see the true side of a player is with a NannyCam. FACT.

* Regardless, fans are happy with this unprecedented access, and love to hear players swear because it's "fun." FACT.

* I don't get it. FACT.

* The answer to the first Blind Item in this post is indeed, Pierre McGuire. FACT.

* This idea, of course, is... CRAP.

* Chris Phillips will be traded before the end of this season. CRAP.

* Chris Phillips' trade value is far less than the bright-eyed optimists would assume. FACT.

* Erik Karlsson is proving that he can be effective at the NHL level as an offensive defenceman. FACT.

* In the process, Karlsson is picking up some very bad habits (i.e. attempting to cut a swath to the net through four opposing players, inevitably leading to a turnover). FACT.

* Ottawa Senators head coach Cory Clouston will be fired before the end of the season. CRAP.

* So will Bryan Murray. CRAP.

* Why would Mr. Eugene bother now? He'll just let them walk in April. FACT.

* A meddling owner combined with a flailing team means you'll hardly have your pick of the litter when it is time to replace the front office. FACT.

* Cory Clouston shouldn't be the head coach, but he can't be expected to get blood from a stone. The talent just isn't here. FACT.

* The Sens have hit rock bottom. CRAP.

* Talk to me when you've missed the playoffs for a good five years or so - barring a major overhaul, that's where this club is headed. FACT.

More later.

20 responses to "Fact or Crap: TUC's version"

  1. Pretty easy to predict the Sens will miss the playoffs for the next five years when you give yourself a big out clause like 'barring a major overhaul'. Just a question, though: What's your idea of a major overhaul?

    Given the age and contract status of most of the current roster, not to mention the upcoming prospects (particularly on defence), I'd be surprised if we saw anything less than a major overhaul in the next few seasons. By 2013-14, I'd be very surprised if any of Alfredsson, Kuba, Ruutu, Gonchar, Kovalev, or either of the current goaltenders are still suiting up as Senators. Seems like a major overhaul is inevitable.

    Peter Raaymakers

  2. "Given the age and contract status of most of the current roster, not to mention the upcoming prospects (particularly on defence), I'd be surprised if we saw anything less than a major overhaul in the next few seasons. By 2013-14, I'd be very surprised if any of Alfredsson, Kuba, Ruutu, Gonchar, Kovalev, or either of the current goaltenders are still suiting up as Senators. Seems like a major overhaul is inevitable."

    You have more confidence in this club than I have. Nothing in the system screams "building block" to me (you need to see how Cowen performs in the NHL before you can make a true assessment). Goaltenders? Well, Lehner's stock is hardly high, so who does that leave? Mike Brodeur? Barry Brust? (The latter was in jest...you get my point.)

    On top of that, I have a hard time believing you're going to build a successful franchise around guys like Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza. Sure, the overhaul will come, but if it isn't done right, the point is moot.

    The Universal Cynic

  3. In today's NHL, no team is as bad, or as good, as they look. That's why the pressure on GMs is so immense - if you knew for sure you were in for a long rebuild, the pressure would be off somewhat, but the reality is that every game is tight, the standings are tight, and few teams are truly so bad that they are right out of it. Good grief, even the Islanders have experienced a bounce lately, and they have an owner/GM combination worse than Ottawa's. (I would argue that the loser point has made the standings deceiving in that being ten points out now is like being 15 or 20 points out back in the day, but I digress.) This is why Melnyk keeps signing aging free agents like Kovalev and Gonchar, and keeps trading potential depth (2nd round picks) for rentals at the deadline.

    Still, the organizational depth on the blueline is impressive, and a smart young GM could parlay that and some cap space into some help up front. Done effectively, it could resemble a quick and dirty rebuild. Let's put it this way - Ottawa is in far better shape than either the Leafs, who are again without a first rounder, or Calgary, who now look like the JFJ Jr. era Leafs with all the aging veterans who can't be moved due to NTCs. This season is a write off, but I do hold out hope that the Sens could be a playoff team again within a couple of years.

    Dennis Prouse

  4. We're looking a lot like those JFJ era Leafs ourselves.

    Gonchar, Kovalev, Alfredsson, Fisher, Phillips, Spezza all have NTC. Mediocre forward prospects, average goaltending prospects. Old, tired GM. Young, deer in the headlights coach.

    There isn't any hope over here. I'm having trouble seeing this team as serious playoff thread before 2013-2014 or 2014-2015 season. Probably best, can save the $2,000 or so I'd spend on tickets and put it toward new floor panelling or bathroom renos.

    Erin, what are your thoughts on the Murray era/The Euge/current core?

    Sens

  5. "Still, the organizational depth on the blueline is impressive,"

    I don't see it. Jared Cowen remains a question mark until he gets here, Karlsson is progressing, but as I said, he's developing bad habits. Is David Hale considered a blue-chip d-man now? I think we know the answer to that.

    "And a smart young GM could parlay that and some cap space into some help up front."

    I know you take issue with Murray's age in particular, D. As long as the new guy does the job well, hopefully it won't be an issue.

    The Universal Cynic

  6. I think Karlsson is doing much more than progressing. He is one of the most impressive young defencemen in the league. Is he perfect? Of course not, but there are 29 other teams who would kill to have him in their lineup.

    No question that Cowen is not a sure thing yet, but you certainly saw a sharp progression in his play from the WJC a year ago to this past one. (There is also little doubt that Cowen was a better selection than Kadri.) A year ago, he simply didn't have the mobility he needed - that seems far less a problem now.
    I think it is pretty reasonable to suggest that Cowen and Rundblad can be pencilled in to top four pairings in the NHL, while there is a chance that one of either Wiercoch or Gryba could become a fifth or sixth defenceman in the next year or two.

    All of this means that Chris Phillips is likely done as a Senator. It's a shame that he couldn't finish his career here, but he is worth far more elsewhere than he is here. The Senators need to be able to plug in Cowen on an entry level contract into Phillips' slot, and use those savings, along with the savings from losing the contracts of Kovalev and Leclaire, to go shopping for help up front. (You could waive or buy out Kuba to aid in that effort.) All of a sudden, the Senators have over $15 million in cap space to go shopping. Say this for Eugene - he is willing to spend to the cap, which will be a huge help this summer. Now we just need them to make smarter choices. (For instance, Dan Hamhuis would have been a far smarter investment than Gonchar. Hamhuis is 28 and a much more complete player, but he wasn't a marquee name who could sell season tickets in July. Gonchar was.)

    Dennis Prouse

  7. "I think Karlsson is doing much more than progressing. He is one of the most impressive young defencemen in the league. Is he perfect? Of course not, but there are 29 other teams who would kill to have him in their lineup."

    So you're saying he's Drew Doughty v. 2.0? I look forward to his nomination for the Norris this year.

    As for Cowen - if I remember correctly, D, you're the one who's always insisting that the WJC is only a snapshot of a player's true value and performance. You have to apply that in both a positive and negative sense. It doesn't reflect how they might perform in the NHL, at least in the first 1-5 years. If you don't believe me, ask Brayden Schenn (it's not cap space, roster room or Marco Sturm, either).

    Rundblad? Gryba? Wiercoch? Show me the proof. Hell, show me hope. Show me anything that doesn't involve grasping at straws.

    The Universal Cynic

  8. I won't be sad to see Phillips go. Whether it happens at the trade deadline or they let him walk as a UFA, his time here is done. I'm hoping they won't make the same mistake they made with Chara, Redden and Volchenkov and let him walk without getting anything in return though.

    A guy with his size should have developed into a Scott Stevens type of player and Phillips hasn't even come close to this. I've never seen a less physical player with his size. He has no hands, isn't the greatest skater and doesn't have a mean bone in his body. Unfortunately, a player either has a mean streak in him or he doesn't. It's not something you can coach a player to be.
    Speaking of players who don't play a physical game....sure would be nice to see the old Mike Fisher come back and play a more physical game and drop the gloves a little more like he use to...

    JB

  9. Erin - I honestly can't remember the last time you showed any enthusiasm whatsoever for this organization, on almost any level.

    I'm not saying that unbridled optimism is warranted called for right at the moment, but after a while the Debbie Downer act loses some of its edge. I think that's what's coming out in the comments here.

    What I'm saying is that there's space in between "one of the most impressive young defencemen in the league" and "Drew Doughty v2.0" and I think you were being disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

    dzuunmod

  10. Karlsson certainly has the potential to develop into one of the best offensive d-men this team has ever seen as well as one of the top scoring d-men in the league. As Erin has pointed out though, the bad habits that Karlsson is developing can crush that potential real fast.

    I agree with Dennis that Karlsson is is one of the more impressive young D in the league. The problem though is that he leaves a great positive impression one shift and the very next shift will leave you with a very negative impression. Sens fans are by far the most fickle fans in the league and we all know how well they tolerate offensive zone turnovers. If Karlssons bad habits aren't corrected soon, it won't be long until everybody calling into the post-game show is talking about how terrible he is.....just ask Jason Spezza..

    JB

  11. @dzuunmod

    First off, I don't understand your segue. And you only need to look in the archives to see that I once felt differently about this club. Contrary to popular belief, it gives me no pleasure to be negative all the time - if it did, I'd blog far more than I do. It's extremely tedious. But if you're looking for me to cheerlead during what could be one of the darker periods of this franchise, you've come to the wrong place. (Please don't come back and tell me this is nothing compared to the early days. I know that. But you're looking at a club that was a Stanley Cup contender less than five years ago, and regarded as an elite franchise for nearly a decade.)

    Furthermore, I resent the disingenuous remark. When I think of the most impressive young defencemen in the league, my mind goes to one player: Drew Doughty. Are you or any other Sens fans prepared to put Karlsson in the same class as him? That was my argument. Not sure how anyone could interpret it otherwise.

    Karlsson provides hope - but he needs grooming and the RIGHT CARE to ensure he doesn't go down the wrong path. Where else do you see hope within this franchise? This isn't about being negative. This is reality.

    The Universal Cynic

  12. What I see in Dennis' comment is plural: defencemen. I just think you went a little far in suggesting that it's all or nothing - that to be an impressive young defenceman, you necessarily need to be (a) Drew Doughty, and; (b) a Norris candidate this season. That's how it comes off. If to you, the entire list of most impressive young d-men consists of one name, then that's fine, but by virtue of the fact that it's plural I suspect most people wouldn't see it the same way.

    Is Subban one of the most impressive young d-men in the league? Is Karlsson? How about Fowler, Carlson, Hedman or Johnson?

    Sure, Doughty is the most impressive in the category. Still, I don't think you'll find many observers arguing against any of the other names on that list, and in your response to Dennis, it sure looked like that's what you were doing: setting up Doughty as the one and true defensive light on the horizon across the league.

    All I'm saying with the rest is that short of the Islanders, there is no team in the NHL right now where everything is 100% bad news all the time - ownership, fanbase, management, results on the ice. Top to bottom, there are virtually no bright spots for that organization at the moment. But to read TUC, you'd get the impression that the Senators were without a high draft pick this coming offseason, there is no talent coming down the pike, the fans are on the verge of completely abandoning the team and that everyone down to and including the peanut vendor is either incompetent, not to be trusted, or both.

    Everyone seems to agree that big, big changes are coming over the next few seasons - you even acknowledge this in your response to Peter. But where most people differ from you is in their glass half-full approach. You admit only very grudgingly that an overhaul is coming, and then take the most pessimistic of views about it: "if it isn't done right, the point is moot."

    Well? Isn't that obvious whenever any team rebuilds anywhere in any sport? Of course a rebuild has to be done right. Of course a rebuild done wrong can result in Long Island v2.0. But isn't the blank slate that's soon coming the least bit exciting to you? Don't you think this is something the fans should get just a little bit up about?

    Cap space, (likely) high draft picks and a youth movement are all coming, whether it's next year or the one after or the one after that. It's pretty much inevitable at this point. And most fans, I think, see that as a good thing. Not as a certain opportunity for the club to fail.

    dzuunmod

  13. And to be clear - I certainly don't mean to suggest that it's all sunshine and roses for the Sens. Far from it! But what I see here are some fans making the case that there are a few reasons for optimism, and you doing your best to shoot them down at every turn.

    No, Karlsson isn't going to be parading the Stanley Cup down Bank Street anytime soon, but isn't he fun to watch? Isn't he the best young offensive d-man we've ever had in an Ottawa uniform? Isn't it a little bit exciting that scouting suggests Rundblad has the same kind of potential? Isn't all the money coming off the books at the end of this year fun to think about?

    Sure, it could be misspent, and Rundblad could fizzle out, and Karlsson's development could get mucked up and tomorrow a massive snowstorm in Ottawa could cause SBP's roof to cave in, but can we at least take the positives we have right now at the moment and try to look at the upside?

    I just don't understand why the person who wouldn't do that would even bother with this team. Why they wouldn't start supporting the Habs or the Predators or the '67s.

    dzuunmod

  14. Keeping this short, because I have to work:

    Karlsson: More impressive. Not in the group of "most." Not yet. Potential is there. He does provide hope, which is very nice. I've always been pulling for the kid. Hopefully we can table this now.

    A rebuild done right: You would think it would go without saying, but unfortunately it doesn't with some people. That's why I brought it up. Blank slates don't excite me for that very reason. I can hope that things will go well, but I reserve my right as an observer (and not a fan) to temper my enthusiasm. I will get excited about when it finally gives us something new to talk about.

    The Universal Cynic

  15. I'm not going to pretend Karlsson's game is something it's not for the sake of optimism. Does he have the potential to be good? He does and is already. Can he be great? Absolutely. But he's developing bad habits. Can they be changed? Sure. Come on now. Do I really have to break this down into minuscule chunks? That's not shooting down optimism. That's showing legitimate concern. There IS a difference.

    The Universal Cynic

  16. I just don't often see where you allow a single good word about the team in this space pass without a response. To me, that's shooting down optimism. *shrug*

    So, prove me wrong then. Is there one, single thing about this franchise, top-to-bottom right now, that fans can feel good or optimistic about - without reservation or qualification? I dare ya!

    dzuunmod

  17. Eugene Melnyk has stated this season that he will never sell the team...

    ...and I'm taking my fingers away from the keyboard. Right. Now. :)

    The Universal Cynic

  18. See, that wasn't so hard, was it?

    Cheers!

    dzuunmod

  19. Stay strong Erin. Keep calling it like it is.

    The Senators won't hit bottom until Eugene stops taking everything that Murray says as gospel. I used to be a supporter but aside from some half-decent drafting (Karlsson) Murray has compounded the situation he was handed by Muckler.

    What I see is a GM with no accountability. I don't have faith Murray will do what's needed in a rebuild.

    Kosmo

  20. Personally, I think Erin is the breath of fresh air Ottawa Media desperately needs. Print and Radio sports media in the city absolutely blows and a major reason for that is their unwillingness to call a spade a spade and call out guys like Fisher, Phillips and yes, even at times, Alfie. It's considered Taboo in this city to even mention the name Mike Fisher as an underachiever or as someone who should be bringing more to the table.
    Last I checked, one of the major responsibilities of a Captain is to be a leader, step up when things are tough and find a way to get the guys inspired. Calm down, I'm not suggesting that Alfie is to blame for what has transpired here this year. Ask yourself this question though.....What have we won with Alfie as our leader? Can you think of any big/important game where Alfie put the team on his back and carried them to victory? Can you think of any playoff series where he has been the major reason for a series victory?
    Yes, Alfie works his ass off every single time he takes to the ice. Nobody will ever question his work ethic. It's true, he rarely, if ever, takes a shift off or isn't giving 100% of whatever he has to give.Big Deal! Same can be said for Fisher as well. The major core of this team has been together for years and what have any of them won? At the end of the day, it's all about winning.
    To my initial point concerning Erin, other than Liam Maguire, she's one of very few who have the guts to speak what is on their mind and call a spade a spade. Some of you interpret this as her having a bad/negative attitude and always going with the glass half empty. I can think of many times where she has been very positive about this team. Let's be honest here, the Sens are a bad hockey team right now. What is so wrong with pointing this out?

    JB