Senators News: November 30th

-Binghamton plays Adirondack tonight, with the Phantoms sitting at 9-9-0 on the season.  Adirondack is lead by Brayden Schenn with 22 points and backstopped by AHL veteran Scott Munroe.  The B-Sens won their last meeting 5-2 back on the 17th.

-Elmira plays Wheeling tonight, with the Nailers a meagre 5-8-3 on the season.  Wheeling is lead by Paul Crowder and Cody Wild (each with 11 points) and backstopped by Patrick Killeen.

Tim Murray talked about Binghamton’s play this season:

Our goaltending has been outstanding, so you have the two guys there obviously who have been basically, really good every single game. So, they keep you in games. Our blue line has been basically been really good every single game. Our forwards are playing well and I mean, I keep hearing this negativity that we don’t score, but who cares? I don’t care. I mean, the idea is to win. They’ve all bought into the system and like I say, we’ve been playing some very hard, physical games and I think that can only help (the prospects) development and prepare them for the next level.

Yeah, great numbers and again, great attitude [from Robin Lehner]. He has really learned a lot in two years. The talent has always been there and I think, when these players get to the American (Hockey) League and the National Hockey League, the talent has got them so far. But it’s preparation, it’s execution and it is focus and these are things that young guys have to learn and some learn them quicker than others. He has come in with a great mindset this year. He knew that he had made some mistakes in the past and owned up to them, finally and I think it has made him a better goaltender and a better person.

He’s [Jakob Silfverberg] been playing with different linemates and he is certainly getting his power play time and killing some penalties. But he himself has stated that it has been a struggle at times in certain games. Against Toronto he (had a goal and an assist) on Thursday night and then (against) Syracuse, see the tape, right from puck drop, he is being hit, sticked, spit on, whatever… He is the focus of their game plan that night and he doesn’t get a point. But what he did was he took a lot of their attention and then other guys step up and we win a game against arguably, the best team in the league. Again, there has been a learning curve but he has taken it all in stride. I just think that you will see a lot of these guys, including him, in the second half, be more comfortable and start to produce on the scoreboard a little more than they are now.

Different people (are) stepping up every night, so he’s [Luke Richardson] done a great job. And even beyond that, if you go and watch (Binghamton) play, we play the game right. We don’t have a tough guy but we have team toughness. Different guys step up when they have to and we don’t fight for the staged fight. We play the game right. We check hard. We track the puck hard. We always have a man high. We pinch our D. We do a lot of good things that you want to see your NHL teams do. We play an aggressive brand of hockey and again, I’m not too worried about how many goals we score. I think that is going to bode well for the young guys coming up and I think there are quite a few guys down there that can step up. Whether it’s to have a long career or just play games, I think they are really learning a lot (from) Luke about what it takes to get to the next level and then how you stay at the next level.

They are just guys [like Mark Borowiecki] that you do not find. Huge heart. Whatever. Every kid tells you at the draft that they will do whatever it takes (to be an NHLer) and most of it is bull. This guy, it is that. It is whatever. He goes to the wall every night for you and for his teammates. He is the most courageous guy that I have ever been around. And it’s not just his play, it’s the way he practices. Nobody wants to practice against him in battle drills, well you’re going to, so you better practice a little harder. You better battle a little harder. He just makes everyone around him better. He certainly makes our scouting staff (look) better. A fifth round pick and a North American defenceman at that, that doesn’t usually happen after two rounds or so, that is going to play in the National Hockey League and is going to be hard to play against. He has his limitations for sure, but he is just a guy that nobody really wants to dump the puck in his corner anymore. Everything is a battle against this guy, and we love him.

That is a lot to absorb, but the sentiments are nothing new.  The most interesting thing to my mind was Murray’s comment that it’s hard to snag good defensemen from North America after the first two rounds–that’s food for thought when looking at Tim’s approach to drafting.

-The Sens have decided to keep Mika Zibanejad in the AHL rather than releasing him for Sweden’s WJC roster.  Given that he won gold last year this makes sense to me (Tim Murray, in the link above, said essentially the same thing).  When asked about it Zibanejad said all the right things:

You’re putting me in a really tough spot right now. I guess I’m happy I don’t have to make that decision. I don’t know what I would do. I’m fully trusting (in the Senators) right now and I’m just respecting their decision. I know where I’m going to be at Christmas. It feels good. It’s always a big thing. Especially because the world juniors are getting bigger every year back home. It was always a goal and a dream for me to play world juniors, ever since my brother (Monir Kalgoum) played there (almost a decade ago). At the same time, I have a contract with Ottawa and I pay close attention to what they have to say and I agree. I think it’s good for me to stay here and get a full season in and not have to travel all the way to Russia and back just for two weeks or three weeks. I had a really good experience at the world juniors last year. You want to make both (sides) happy, but that’s not possible. Right now, I’m just going after what Ottawa wants me to do. I try to get just a little bit better every day and get used to everything around me. All the travel and the games, the three games in three days and everything, it takes time getting used to and I feel like I’m getting there. I think it’s been really good so far and I enjoy playing here. I knew this was one option, that Ottawa wouldn’t let me go. I always had that in the back of my mind. It doesn’t come as a shock. Now I get a good opportunity to focus on the team over here, making sure we’re winning games. I’m trying to help as much as I can. I guess now that it’s kind of clear what’s going to happen, it’s easier for me to focus, too.

-Not surprisingly, the NHL and NHLPA have booted their mediator.  It’s clear the NHL believes that keeping a hardline position will allow them to “win” the negotiation.

-For the sake of fans of Marc Spector who I pilloried not long ago, here’s a largely sensible piece on Brian Burke’s tenure as Toronto’s GM.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Senators News: November 29th

Chris Wideman has been re-assigned to Elmira while Dustin Gazley has been recalled to Binghamton.  I expected the Wideman move with Gryba‘s return to the lineup.  In six games with Binghamton Wideman had no points and was -5.  Gazley currently leads the Jackals in scoring with 19 points.

-Here are highlights for Binghamton’s win over Bridgeport as well as their win over Syracuse.

Jared Cowen had a lot to say about his injury, as well as confirming that Wacey Hamilton (who he’s sharing a house with in Kanata) has been out all season with a concussion:

It was only six months (as the projected recovery time) with my knee, but more like a year and a half until I felt normal again. I know what it’s really like. Six months until I can play, a year until it feels close to normal. I know the reality. It doesn’t even hurt. I wish there was a little bit of pain, to keep me from doing stuff. I can walk, but I’m supposed to keep right off of it, so (the stitches) stay tight. It’s way better than when I did my knee, though. It’s totally different. My knee was swollen. I had it in a straight brace for awhile. Now, it’s not even been two weeks and I can ride the bike and everything. (In) the consultation, (the surgeon) said it’s important to not do too much now. You’ll feel like you’re doing well now, progressing, but when you go to do more, in terms of running, or walking … doing too much now would be inhibiting later. It’s kind of hard to pull back on the reins and take it easy, but he said later ‘you should be fine.’ The first time I hurt it [the hip], it wasn’t that bad. I was coming back … I skated twice or three times, and it felt like I was progressing. I kind of hurt it a second time … which actually tore it, they told me. That time I kind of figured there was something wrong, because my leg went numb a little bit, and it wasn’t getting better, like before. I didn’t know how bad it was until they told me I was getting an MRI. Then I was like, it’s bad. I only got to play three games (for the B-Sens), which was brutal. If there’s a time to do it, I guess it’s now, if the (NHL) season doesn’t go on. But there’s no good time at all, really. It’s already my second injury like this, so it kind of sucks. It’s nice to have someone around [Wacey Hamilton], or I’d be going crazy. We don’t do much, because he has a concussion and can’t do a lot, and I’m not supposed to do a lot anyway. We’re couch potatoes. I’m not sure what kind of issues I’d have with the hip. With my knee, I had tendinitis in the front, which is normal, but I’m not really familiar with the hip. It’s kind of hard to imagine how it would feel bad, since it feels pretty good right now. (But) it’s hard to say where I’ll be six months from now. It’s a long ways away, so I’ve got time on my side. That’s the one good thing about it. And I have all summer. Lots of time to skate and feel good about it.

Varada looks at the Forbes estimates for the worth of NHL franchises to point out that ownership whinging over financial struggles is just that–hot air.

-For those who didn’t hear, former B-Sen Barry Brust broke the AHL consecutive shutout record playing for Abbotsford.

Stu Hackel writes about fan efforts to punish the league and the players for the lockout, but all I took away from it was how futile it is–hockey fans have nowhere else to go, so the impact is only on marginal fans who can easily be persuaded back by a good product.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 28th

Luke Richardson talked about Jakob Silfverberg:

Well, Silfverberg has been a great forward for us all year. He’s a talented guy and I know that everyone thinks that means offence, which he does have – he has got unbelievably quick hands. Defensively, penalty killing, he has been one of our most consistent, best forwards. What we have asked of him to do this year, maybe with the smaller rink size that takes a little bit away from his offence at the beginning until he finds some comfort in the surroundings of the small rink. But the other night when we played Toronto, he basically won the game (for us) in the first period. He set up Shane Prince for a beautiful goal on a forecheck and then stole the puck on the blue line from a strong Toronto team and raced down the ice with a guy basically on his back. A quick one-two move with his quick hands (before) firing it home and that was it. He really controlled that first period and set the tempo of that game. I know the next game, we played the next night against Syracuse and they were all over him. I guess they read the clips. They know who he is and they really tried to play physical against him but to his credit, he made some really smart dumps and just drew people to him and got them out of position. He just gave other people room and he’s a real smart player. It won’t be long before Ottawa sees him.

Yet more confirmation about the strength of Silfverberg‘s play.  About Mika Zibanejad he said:

Zibanejad just had some wisdom teeth taken out this week, so hopefully he won’t be out for very long at all and reacts well to that. I know that was bothering him a little bit in the last week, but he had a really strong start. He has gotten a little frustrated in the last little bit. He hasn’t been able to score. He has hit some posts and he has created some chances and just hasn’t been able to finish (them) off. But again, we ask him to do a lot on the defensive side – in killing penalties and winning faceoffs in the (defensive) zone. He’s been great at both.

Pretty much on par with his other comments about Zibanejad.  About Mark Stone he said:

Mark Stone unfortunately had a bit of an upper body injury after the first few games. I think he got it in the first game and then he had to play through it for a while but then he missed some games. He has been back for a few and he is probably our…I don’t know if you want to call it the smartest forward with your stick if you want to talk about it like that. (He) is almost like a defenceman. He knocks every puck down that is around him. He is so good with his hands that he is almost like a lacrosse player. He has had the same thing, countless stolen pucks that he has just shot over the net and he probably should have three or four more goals at least. But still, he is a really reliable player. A real smart player. Engaging. He is always listening and trying to learn. He is doing a great job. We have got him on a line with Derek Grant and Dave Dziurzynski and they check the other team’s best line and they have been doing a great job of that and they’re also putting some offence on the board. So those three forwards, there are lots of great things to come from them and they’re just getting better as the more reps they get and the more games they get. Unfortunately, they’re in an organization where there is a lot of great young forwards so they’re going to have to battle against each other. But it is healthy competition and they’re great teammates; they just push each other harder.

Clearly Richardson is very happy with Stone.  He also provided an injury update on Stephane Da Costa:

He banged up his leg when he came back from his first injury – the broken finger.

Nichols writes about the Sens being an older team as defined by their core players with a graph that makes my eyes bleed.  His point is that a team’s average age doesn’t tell you how old the core players are, but rather than just stating who those players are and looking at their ages there’s a graphing system because…reasons?  I don’t think the team versus team comparison is all that relevant–where Ottawa sits in relation to the rest of the league in terms of core age only seems meaningful in a league where player movement is impossible.  The team has two players approaching retirement (Gonchar and Alfredsson) with another (Phillips) on the downward side of his career, but the Big Rig is not a core player anymore.  Projecting forward (which seems the only value of the graph) is risky business since the unknowns of progression and regression are simply that–unpredictable.

Forbes estimates the Sens are worth 220 million dollars (16th in the league).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 27th

Ian C. McLaren writes about Binghamton’s recent success (nothing new here, but it nicely encapsulates how good the team has been of late).

-Here’s the weekly prospect update (for players with more than 10 games played I’ve indicated where they are in scoring; for blueliners they are compared to other defensemen on the team):

Matt Puempel (OHL Kitchener) 25-21-7-28 (1st)
Cody Ceci (OHL Ottawa) 27-7-21-28 (1st)
Stefan Noesen (OHL Plymouth) 21-14-8-22 (t-1st)
Jordan Fransoo (WHL Victoria) 20-2-6-8 (t-2nd)
Jakub Culek (QMJHL Cape Breton) 6-4-2-6 (10th)
Jarrod Maidens (OHL Owen Sound) (injured)
Chris Driedger (WHL Calgary) 14-3-2 2.24 .923
Francois Brassard (QMJHL Quebec) 14-5-1 2.56 .905

Allsvenskan (Swe)
Mikael Wikstrand (Mora) 24-9-7-16 (1st)

Nikita Filatov (Salavat) 28-8-9-17 (2nd)

Ryan Dzingel (Ohio) – 12-5-5-10 (2nd)
Max McCormick (Ohio) – 12-4-4-8 (3rd)
Jeff Costello (Notre Dame) – 10-5-4-9 (t-2nd)
Bryce Aneloski (Nebraska-Omaha) – 12-2-8-10 (t-1st)
Michael Sdao (Princeton) – 8-2-3-5
Tim Boyle (Union) – 5-0-1-1

Robbie Baillargeon (Indiana) – 20-5-8-13 (6th)

-On the amusing side of things you can read how Tweets got Guy Serota removed as the mediator of the NHL/NHLPA talks.  It’s bemusing that so many people are incapable of controlling themselves on social media.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 26th

Jakob Silfverberg talked about his adjustment to the AHL:

You have to be so much quicker in everything you do. As soon as you get the puck, you have to know what you want to do with it. There’s not a lot of time to think, ‘Do I want to go there, or do I want to go there?’ I feel like I’ve played solid defence, but I haven’t been creating as much as I want offensively. I just have to keep working and not get frustrated.  [E]very game I learn something and I’m getting more and more comfortable out there. It was very exciting for me to come here to play. I’ve been playing in Sweden my whole life and I wanted to try something new. So now I’m here and I’m liking it a lot, learning new things and getting more experience as a hockey player.

You have to like Silfverberg‘s humility.  Luke Richardson added:

I think it’s been a big adjustment for them [Silfverberg and Zibanejad], but I can see they’re starting to get to know their surroundings a little bit, especially on the power play. They’re making plays in small areas quicker and getting used to it. But these guys also have a reputation following them. They’re world-class players, so people are trying to get on them quicker and give them no space. People recognize what they can do, so they’re ready for them. That makes it difficult for a guy.

-It’s time for me to eat some crow over my expectation that Shane Prince and Jean Gabriel-Pageau would be sent back to the CHL .  Given the number of forwards slated for Binghamton I thought both might be better served back in junior, but it seems clear they will remain in the AHL this season.

Corey Masisak names Robin Lehner the AHL first star for Saturday night’s games.

-Former B-Sen Mark Parrish has retired.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 24th; Binghamton 6, Bridgeport 1

-Binghamton crushed Bridgeport tonight in a game I was only able to see a little of.  Cole Schneider scored the first two goals of his professional career, while Gryba also had a pair and Benoit and Grant had singles.  Gryba lead the way with three points while Lehner picked up the win with 35 saves.

-Elmira got hammered 5-1 by South Carolina, with Cheverie taking the loss and Kramer and Caporusso picking up assists in the loss.

Fredrik Claesson talked about his adjustment to the AHL:

The first game I felt lost and didn’t know what to do. And the league is much tougher than in Sweden. But it’s coming more and more and I’m starting to feel good now. I was thinking about this before I came here, so I knew it was going to be hard, but I’m feeling better and better every game. I think it’s going to take some years. We’ll see. I have a three-year contract now, and we’ll see after that.

It’s a very realistic outlook from Claesson whose play has noticeably improved already.  Luke Richardson added:

He’s a good kid, and he’s done really well. Every day, he’s the first guy who comes over and asks, ‘What can I work on?’ He has a real positive attitude and everybody loves him. He’s a bit of a character. It’s nice to get him here when he’s young. It gives him a chance to work on his game and hopefully he can graduate as soon as possible.

Speaking of Richardson, he and his players talked about his start as a coach in the AHL.  Patrick Wiercioch said:

A lot of the coaches who have had success in the NHL have had good relationships with their players, and I think that’s why we’re having success right now. A lot of the time, when you think you’re the only one going through something, and you talk to (Richardson) about it, he can relate to it and tell you stuff he did to get through certain weeks, certain months. You take it to heart more when you see what he did, because to have the career he did is something we all want.

Richardson himself said:

I like to create relationships and have fun with the guys and have them feel comfortable that they can joke with me and talk to me about everyday stuff. But when I’m on the ice and I blow the whistle and I’m a little huffy, I have to have their respect and they have to listen to me. And even if they’re a little upset with me, that’s normal, that’s fine. But the next day I’m going to be over it, and hopefully they’re over it. And if they’re not over it, then it’s not my problem, it’s their problem. They can come and talk about a situation that we disagree about, and we still may disagree even after we’ve talked, but at least we’ve talked about it. And I think that relationship has been good, so far. In the NHL, there are lot of people around to look after the players and get them where they need to be. Down here, you have to do all that. And the players are younger, too, so you have to remind them more. They’re almost like teenagers. It’s not just coaching. I’m trying to help these players reach their goals and dreams as fast as they possibly can, and if they’re willing to put the work in, I’m willing to help them get there.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 23rd; Binghamton 2, Syracuse 1

-Binghamton defeated Syracuse 2-1 tonight in a game I was able to watch the first and third periods of the game.  Eckford and Grant scored, with Grant enjoying a two-point evening [Eckford has been awarded Grant‘s goal, giving him the two-point night].  The Crunch targeted Silfverberg throughout the game, which is a compliment to the winger.  Lehner was excellent and the team played well over all against one of the best teams in the AHL.  Borowiecki was shaken up in the third period off a hit in the corner, but was able to come back and play.  I thought the aforementioned Silfverberg was the best player on the ice in what I saw, despite not picking up a point.

-Elmira won 1-0 tonight, with Cheverie picking up the shutout and New picking up an assist as the only Binghamton signee to get a point.

-The NHL cancelled more games today and I’m at long last wondering if the league is actually going to cancel a season.  It seems too colossally stupid to be true, but at this point I’m beginning to wonder.  Local pseudo-journalist Don Brennan rants about the situation and adds this chestnut to increase his popularity:

The truth about fans is most cheer for the logo. I’m sorry, but many of them wouldn’t know good hockey from a notch or two below.

Stay classy DB.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 22nd; Binghamton 3, Toronto 2

-Tonight Binghamton defeated the Toronto Marlies 3-2 in a game I saw only a little of.  Ben Bishop stood tall in net making 46 saves, while Silfverberg, Prince, and Wiercioch scored (Silfverberg also lead the way with two points).  Eric Gryba returned to the lineup and was +2 (Chris Wideman sat and I’d expect him to be loaned back to Elmira if the blueline remains healthy).

-Binghamton plays Syracuse tomorrow.  The Crunch are 10-2-2 on the season and will be a good test for the surging B-Sens.  Cory Conacher leads the way with 17 points for Syracuse while Dustin Tokarski is their starting goaltender.

-Elmira plays South Carolina tomorrow, with the Stingrays sporting a poor 7-11-2 record.

-A couple of Robin Lehner articles are floating around and while there’s not much new in them I’ll quote Lehner:

I think the whole team has come together very well. As for myself, I’m taking steps, and it’s getting better. It’s a little bit easier this year, too. It’s a little bit different than last year. I made a couple of changes myself too, so I’m happy. I have lots of stuff left to improve. I haven’t really had that chance to be as consistent as I want. That stuff is on me, but it’s also a team effort, a team game. Last year we couldn’t get it going, but the year before that, the only consistency I could come up with was on the Calder Cup run. I just think it’s unnecessary, the whole thing. I don’t know. I’m not there. I see the highlights on the TV, when I get home … so many people get affected by this. Especially fans. I think there’s too much greed involved, for being such a big business and so much money already involved, I think it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way, I don’t think. I’m probably not the right guy to have too many comments on the thing anyway. I think it’s just weird. There’s still a time and place. Obviously, Craig is a great goaltender, and he’s the guy there right now. It’s all about what Ottawa wants, and how I play and stuff. There’s Ben Bishop there, too. You just have to sit back and see how it plays out. I don’t think anything is a bad scenario right now. Binghamton is a nice place to play. It’s a good league, and obviously, I would like to see the lockout end, so everything could clear up for a lot of people. I’m not looking forward anymore, I just try to stay in the present. If there would be a chance to prove yourself (in the NHL) sometime, of course I wouldn’t say no to that. But it’s far-fetched right now and I’m not there right now.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 21st

Nichols transcribes another Luke Richardson interview and here’s what the B-Sens coach had to say:

On Mika Zibanejad

Yeah, I have (been happy with his game) and even Saturday, following up (Mika and I) talked a little bit at the morning skate on Friday about (going) straight down the wall, straight lines and shooting the puck and going to the net. He’s a big body and is hard to control (as a defensive player) with his size and speed. To his credit, their line went to the net and he got his own rebound on Friday and Saturday, in the first period, he went racing down the right wing on a two-on-one and shot one right off the post.  He’s still getting his chances, so we’re still liking the way he’s playing. He is tracking defensively very well and he is starting to gauge his body a little more and getting used to that and this style of hockey over hear. We’re happy with him and I’m sure he’s probably frustrated and wants to get a few more points on the board; especially on the power play. (His unit) is really is creating lots of chances. I think Friday, we had 10 out of 19 (scoring) of our chances on the power play. So we’re doing some good things, we just have to really get that killer instinct out there and finish them off.

This is exactly the kind of thing Richardson has been saying about Zibanejad all season: fans need to take Robin Lehner‘s advice and just relax and let him develop.

On Jakob Silfverberg

Great. He’s so smart. He came into the coaches’ room after the first period to see some video on a penalty kill and he asked a question, and he basically answered the question by asking it; that’s how smart of a player he is. (We told him), ‘You did what you needed to do there, it’s just kind of playing hockey and adjusting as it goes.’ We have our systems but those guys are out there and they are the ones who have to adjust as it goes. He is that smart. He talks to other players and he is vocal. He has played pro for a couple of years so he is not really a rookie but he is over here and getting used to his confinements in that small rink and I think he is. The other night, a guy took a big run at him and I don’t think he was too happy, so he went right back at the guy in his own way. Obviously his stature wasn’t as big as the other guy, but he went right after him so I thought that was a good response from him – to show players that he is not going to back off physically. He is a big enough and strong enough guy, but he is so smart out there. He makes things happen with and without the puck; which is just as important.

You have to like how engaged Silfverberg is at the micro level of the game, as well as not letting the opposition intimidate him.

Scott tries to address fan concerns that top prospects aren’t producing in Binghamton as expected and finds solace in their shots-per-game stats (the value of which was explored by Stephan Cooper back in May–it’s an interesting read, although I think Cooper set the bar too low by making the AHL games played minimum only 25 games for his data set).

-As a blast from the past I took a look at Robert Vollman‘s attempt to translate AHL scoring to NHL scoring from last fall.  He makes the proper distinction that the raw number of that translation (0.45) from one league to the other is essentially meaningless until it is broken down by more specific categories.  Vollman points out some of the inconsistencies, but doesn’t delve further into it.  One factor seems straightforward: older AHL players are given better opportunities in the minors and can get away with flaws (like skating) that don’t work at the NHL level.

Scott Burnside compares the current lockout with the 2005-04 lockout and I want to look at some of the differences he mentions:

The two sides have actually spoken on a fairly regular basis since the start of the lockout, on Sept. 15. The fact deputy commissioner Bill Daly and his NHLPA counterpart Steve Fehr didn’t speak for a few days last week was a marked departure from the relatively open lines of communication that have marked this negotiation. Now, sometimes the talks have been short, such as when the league walked out after examining a trio of player proposals for 10 minutes. Other meetings have been more substantial. In the previous lockout, there were long periods of icy silence, most notably from mid-September to early December 2004 that set the tone for the historic lost season. Most observers believe that constant contact, however minimal it might be, is imperative to a deal getting done in a timely fashion and saving at least some of the 2012-13 season.

The core issues, of course, are markedly different, as the league was trying to enforce a salary cap last time and also got a 24 percent rollback on salaries. This time the league is coming off five straight years of record revenue growth, so talks are about redefining the sharing of the revenue pie. The players and owners still can’t get straight how the league will honor all or most of all the existing contracts, while sorting through the contractual restrictions the league wants. In short, these are important issues, but ones most observers believe are eminently solvable, especially given that both sides seem to accept that revenues will get to a 50-50 split at some point in a new deal and revenue sharing must be enhanced to ensure league stability from top to bottom.

One big difference that enhances the players’ desire to stand firm on having existing contracts honored (funny how the NHL appears to be the only pro sports league where honoring deals made by owners is a subject for negotiation) is the number of players under contract now compared to eight years ago. According to the NHLPA, 592 players were under contract at the start of the 2004 lockout. This fall, 658 players were under contract. If the owners are waiting for the players to crack as they did last time, the fact that so many are fighting for money they’re already owed is a significantly different dynamic.

The public relations fight is markedly different this time. Thanks to the explosion of social media, fans are able to voice their opinions more often and more candidly than eight years ago. The owners and Gary Bettman have, for the most part, taken a beating via Facebook and Twitter from players, agents and fans (although, as mentioned earlier, players have been very circumspect about calling out the men who actually pay their salaries). What will be interesting is how sponsors respond to that. Do they shy away from returning or extending existing contracts based on the anger and resentment that seems to be much more prevalent this time? Why wouldn’t they? Eight years ago, fans in general, and especially in Canada, believed getting a salary cap and controlling costs was imperative for stabilizing the game in Canada and for small-market teams. It didn’t exactly work out that way, but this time the perception at least is that fans are a lot angrier, and that anger is much more easily shared.

Today it is being reported the NHLPA is prepared to move off having existing contracts honoured, so flexibility exists there after all.  On the whole all of these differences are positive and I think the fact that there are less tangible reasons for a lockout is why fan anger is as hot as it is.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 20th

-Both Don Brennan and Nichols write about Mika Zibanejad now that he’s scored his first goal in the AHL.  Zibanejad talked about the goal:

Obviously, it’s a big relief at the moment. It was good for my confidence to know that I can score, I can see the puck go in. I’m going to just keep working, and make sure I’m there, where everything happens, in front of the net. Make sure I battle and work hard every day, like I’m trying to do. It was fun. We have two speedsters on the wings [Petersson and Hoffman], it’s perfect for me, just to give it to them and make sure I skate in the middle. They’re both really good skaters, so (we) use that advantage against opponents. It’s a bit new, the whole game, the whole system outside of the rink and on the ice. I feel like I’m getting used to it more and more, and I feel like I just have to work for the confidence to come back. Faceoffs have actually been really good this year, compared to last year in the (Swedish) Elite League. So I’m really happy with that. Small details … you try as well as you can. Even though you don’t score or get the assist and stuff, you just try to work hard every day. It’s a bit different maybe to play wing here than at home, where you get more space and it’s a bigger ice surface. Maybe you get to work more in the D-zone as a centre than compared to a winger, but I think it’s good to have an opportunity to play different positions.

Nichols point is simply that fans are overly eager to get statistical results from prospects and that teenage prospects like Zibanejad take time to develop (which is just common sense).

-Here’s the weekly prospect update (for players with more than 10 games played I’ve indicated where they are in scoring; for blueliners they are compared to other defensemen on the team):

Cody Ceci (OHL Ottawa) 23-6-17-23 (1st)
Matt Puempel (OHL Kitchener) 23-17-5-22 (1st)
Stefan Noesen (OHL Plymouth) 21-14-8-22 (1st)
Jordan Fransoo (WHL Victoria) 17-2-4-6 (3rd)
Jakub Culek (QMJHL Cape Breton) 3-1-1-2 (11th)
Jarrod Maidens (OHL Owen Sound) (injured)
Chris Driedger (WHL Calgary) 11-3-2 2.35 .919
Francois Brassard (QMJHL Quebec) 13-5-0 2.63 .904

Allsvenskan (Swe)
Mikael Wikstrand (Mora) 22-9-6-15 (1st)

Nikita Filatov (Salavat) 25-5-9-14 (2nd)

Ryan Dzingel (Ohio) – 10-3-5-8 (1st)
Max McCormick
(Ohio) – 10-3-4-7 (2nd)
Jeff Costello (Notre Dame) – 8-3-3-6
Bryce Aneloski (Nebraska-Omaha) – 10-1-5-6 (3rd)
Michael Sdao (Princeton) – 6-2-3-5
Tim Boyle (Union) – 4-0-1-1

Robbie Baillargeon (Indiana) – 17-4-8-12 (3rd)

Central Scouting has released their current rankings for the 2013 draft.  CS divides between goalies and skaters, North American and European, and in this list each individual league (which makes it far too bifurcated for me to copy it here).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)