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Don't get me wrong -- I was positively gleeful to get the win, and for the record...The Driver called the victory...several days ago. But after hearing Roy Mlakar pound home (once again) that John Muckler and Bryan Murray should be judged solely by their previous achievements -- a multi-Stanley Cup ring owner and 5th winningest coach in the NHL respectively -- was enough to make me wretch.

The speech Mlakar gave to Michael Landsberg this evening was nearly identical to the interview on the The Team last week. After the Washington game, he claimed that we were only "13 games in". Tonight it was 16. Funny how that number keeps going up, yet the concern remains minimal -- at least from Mlakar's standpoint.

What I couldn't understand was Mlakar's constant referencing of Muckler's and Murray's past successes. So what? Are Stanley Cup-winning GMs that are bound for the Hall of Fame infallible? Are we expected to be idolators to this septuagenarian, simply because he wears a chunk of precious metal on his finger? Are you telling me that neither Muckler nor Murray has made a wrong move since they arrived in Ottawa? The last time I checked, both were human -- capable of erring on a regular basis.

Mlakar's behaviour as of late has me absolutely perplexed. His steadfast support for his GM and coach is one thing -- but to shrug off legitimate concerns, such as repeated early losses, when two points in November mean just as much as they do in March...that's just lunacy. I think he's a step away from dropping a "stay the course" bomb on us.

Ask Toronto and Vancouver about last year. Ask them how much they'd liked to have had those early wins, when the playoffs were bearing down on them, with little hope of earning a berth.

The Citizen's Allen Panzeri had an interesting piece about this very subject on Monday. Here's the breakdown he provided:

Here's a refresher course on how difficult it is to make the playoffs:

In the past seven seasons, Eastern Conference teams needed from a high of 92 points (Tampa Bay Lightning in 2005-2006) to a low of 83 (New York Islanders in 2002-2003) to make the NHL playoffs.

The average has been 88.

The Senators, who have 13 points, have 66 games left for a total possibility of 132 points.

For the Senators to hit the average total for a playoff berth, they need 75 more points. That means they must play almost five games over .500 for the rest of the season.

The mountain is even higher -- seven games over .500 -- if 92 points is their goal, and that will probably be closer to the magic number.

Hockey historians will remember that those 92 points barely gave the Lightning a berth last year. Tampa Bay fought to the last day of the schedule to get past the Atlanta Thrashers and Toronto Maple Leafs, both with 90 points.

Yes, they won tonight. But what do you think are the chances that the team can operate at seven games above .500, based on what you've seen thus far?

I don't know how much longer the fans are going to be stuck in Groundhog's Day mode, waiting for a front office shakeup. If the Senators had lost tonight, I'm sure nothing would have occurred on Thursday. But you have to agree that tonight's win will help to delay the inevitable.

One more thing: I don't like the idea of Eugene Melnyk sending his lawyer up to "observe", regardless of how much he trusts him. Lawyers protect your investments -- Melnyk should be concerned about protecting his passion, which we've been told, is this team. Don't get me wrong: I understand that the Sens are intended to be a money-making venture for him, as well as a tool to help him enjoy the sport that he loves -- but a lawyer? What is he going to tell him that Melnyk didn't already know? This is one instance where I'd like to see the owner get a little more hands-on. He should have been in Buffalo tonight.

4 responses to "Rayzor delays the inevitable"

  1. Most complete Senator win of the season, I thought. They deserve credit for the effort, even if Buffalo helped them along with numerous mistakes, giveaways, breakaways, and a bad goal (Biron's first was pathetic).

    Toronto and last season: I banged my head on the wall all summer with the knowledge that just ONE extra win or two would have put them into the playoffs. On the other hand - it enabled Ferguson to justify canning Fat Quinn. Leafs chat, off. Like you say, wins count no matter what month they arrive in.

    The somewhat ominous sight of Melnyk's lawyer in the stands confused me as well. I don't think I've ever seen the camera turned on a guy identified as a team lawyer during a game before. I totally agree - Ottawa is enduring its biggest crisis in recent memory, so Melnyk should be on hand.

    One other bizarre thing about the game - TSN's "revolutionary" move to interview Mike Fisher between stops in play.

    Call me a stuffy traditionalist, but I didn't like that at all. If I'm the coach of an NHL team, I tell McGuire to keep his microphone to himself - the players are supposed to be focusing on the game, not on gasping out the cliches viewers can see in interviews just as easily between periods.


  2. If they described Pener as Ottawa's alternate NHL governor instead of Melnyk's lawyer would that change your view?


  3. No. No owner that takes out room in a daily to express his intentions and determination to bring a championship to this city should be sending someone else to observe his front office. I didn't say that Pener lacked sports knowledge -- but this is Muckler and Murray that we're talking about. You don't send an underling to observe -- regardless of how many titles he holds with the team. Such a move will do nothing to placate the masses.

    The Universal Cynic

  4. I for one found the lawyer a little creepy. Maybe it was just the hair.

    We've all seen Melnyk at Sens games, although probably not so much in Buffalo - and he's there because he's a big fan as well as the owner. Sending someone in his place sends the message that this is being looked at purely in a business performance sense, that it wasn't a social call.

    And the Mlakar interview on OTR sucked hard. I used to like him. "16 games. 16 games. 16 games." Well, Mr. Mlakar, the distance between "16 games" and "Oh crap it's too late maybe next year" isn't far at all. The team will already have to play at a significantly better-than-.500 clip the rest of the way to pick up the 90+ points necessary for a playoff spot.