Senators News: October 17th

-Ottawa’s home opener against New Jersey is tonight (a team no casual fan gets excited about, something Melnyk points out in the link below) and Stephane Da Costa (who was put on waivers) will sit again in favour of Matt Kassian.  Here are the expected lineups: MacArthur-Turris-Ryan, Michalek-Spezza-Conacher, Greening-Smith-Neil, Kassian-Pageau-Condra; Methot-Karlsson, Cowen-Wiercioch, Phillips-Gryba; Anderson will start.

-The Da Costa move (presumably he is Bingo-bound) confirms my prediction that he would only remain with the Sens during their Western road trip.  No word on Zibanejad, but he is the likely candidate to be recalled unless the Sens make a trade.

-The Sens beat Phoenix 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday, putting a stopper in the rising panic in the fanbase.  Craig Anderson picked up the win and Cory Conacher notched the winner in overtime.  Ottawa gave up two early goals in the first, but showed resilience in coming back.  Here’s the boxscore.

Paul MacLean didn’t mince words about how the team has opened the season:

We feel good about the six points, but we don’t really feel good about how we played in all those games. We found a way to get some points out of four of the games.

Travis Yost offers a few thoughts on the Sens’ road trip as well as praises Kyle Turris.  I agree with Travis that the Greening-Smith-Neil line just doesn’t do the job and I hope MacLean moves away from it permanently.

Scott had the scoring chances in the Anaheim game 17-32.

Eugene Melnyk just can’t keep his mouth shut and Nichols offers us a transcription.

Well you know what, there are a lot of numbers get thrown around and you’re, we’re not really 26th. I know that Capgeek and all these guys, they all do these estimates and stuff like that, but that doesn’t really show the whole picture because the difference between being in the third quartile or the second quartile is so miniscule. The high guys… I’ve done it. Look, we’ve done it. Been there, done that. We spent to the cap three straight years and you know what, what did we get done? We spent money for nothing. We didn’t get into the playoffs one year. We got one round in another year and that’s not the way to win. You’re not going to do it. It’s a whole new ballgame. It’s all development, coaching, staying young and staying healthy. But the patching up would be, the wonderful thing that… the big commodity that we have is cap space. If we have an injury and we need to fill a void and that’s going to be the difference between going an extra round or deeper, then I’m prepared to do it.

The flaws in this are apparent, as NIchols points out:

Yes, the Senators and Melnyk have spent to the cap and yes, the team’s results during those years was awful. But doing so completely ignores the context of why it was done. Having bought the organization from bankruptcy, Melnyk tried to do be the opposite of Rod Bryden. He wanted to reward fans (Eagles concert) and make them believe that he would be willing to do whatever it took to make and keep Ottawa as a Stanley Cup contender. When the Senators made it to the Cup Finals, it was arguably with one of the worst rosters that the team had in years. Recognizing the harmful efforts that the John Muckler regime had on the farm system through poor drafting and short-sighted trades, the Sens re-signed everyone and made patchwork signings and trades because they simply had no young (and inexpensive) talent coming through the system who could compete for jobs. Signings like Kovalev were designed to sell tickets and serve as placeholders until Bryan Murray’s amateur scouting staff could work cultivate prospects. It took some time, but now we’re in a situation in which the system has yielded a number of impressive prospects and an absurd amount of depth. Ottawa’s situation now is one in which money is needed. No one is encouraging management to spend blindly.

Melnyk proceeded to suggest the organisation might use its ample cap space to soak up another team’s problem if the pot was sweetened enough, which is the kind of thing the Leafs did while rebuilding.

Varada wants to know how much more fans would be willing to pay to go to games.  First he points out Ottawa has the lowest ticket prices in Canada (middle of the league otherwise), but he mentions an important facet of this discussion:

There’s a lot we don’t know here. For instance, does this average include corporate suites? What about ticket packages that drive down the average but increase stability for a team that needs a reliable revenue stream? Does the location of those other teams’ arenas increase walk-up purchases of pricier tickets?

I think there’s a lot to be said (as Varada points out) in what you are getting with your ticket and I don’t see Ottawa trying to add value to what they are selling.  The Sens focus purely on what’s on the ice, while Montreal and Toronto sell their tradition (and yes, I have no idea why the Leafs “tradition” is a positive selling point), the Oilers sell hope, and so on.  There’s just nothing else being added to the value of the product to justify moving those prices up.

-Elmira continues to clear the decks of its roster, releasing Olivier Croteau and Dylan Quaile.  Their season opening roster has been released and it features no surprises.  The Jackals play Wheeling tomorrow to begin their season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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