Senators News & Notes

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We’ve had more expected Sens cuts as newly signed Thomas Chabot was returned to the QMJHL and Nick PaulFredrik ClaessonEric O’DellZack Stortini, and Michael Kostka were all sent down to Binghamton (Mark Fraser followed the next day and Andrew Hammond‘s injury has kept Matt O’Connor with the team).  Let’s hope Bryan Murray was joking when he talked about Kostka getting a number of games with the Sens as a call-up.  Colin Greening also hit waivers, but I don’t know ihe’s going to stay in Binghamton all that long (I’m sure Murray is hoping someone claims him).  Incidentally, Michaela Schreiter offers up a season preview for the Sens.

Ottawa Senators Official NHL Headshots

Going back to Hammond, he’s apparently tweaked his groin (out for two weeks), which means the Sens did well to create some goaltending depth.  There’s not enough juice in the system to survive another injury to either Anderson or O’Connor at this point, but just Hammond is fine–all hail the Scott Greenham safety valve in Bingo.

jared cowen

Callum Fraser sums up the sideshow that was the Mark Borowiecki-Jared Cowen pairing last night:

When it was all said and done, Cowen and Borowiecki were side by side at the very bottom of the stat sheet, posting ugly possession numbers. At even strength, they both had Corsi ratings below 21 percent, Fenwick ratings below 17 percent and shot for ratings below 12 percent. … While Borowiecki took his obligatory minor penalty for the night – the Canadiens scored as he was exiting the box – Cowen looked anything but condifent with the puck and was getting beaten to the outside numerous times.

Does Callum know that Cowen is big or that Borowiecki is tough?  Er….  It’s scenarios like these, and the fact that Murray has at times wanted to get ride of Mike Hoffman and Patrick Wiercioch, that makes you wonder where his head is at.

Speaking of Murray (link above), he continued his faint praise of Cowen prior to the contest:

with his size, if he just accepts what he is, and what he is is a big, strong guy that has a little bit of a (mean) streak, can defend reasonably well and use his stick a little bit better, and then with the puck – keep it simple.

This sounds pretty desperate to me and it’s telling that “big and mean” are the main positive attributes given to the defenseman.  The AHL (and ECHL) is full of big and mean players–it’s not a difficult attribute to find.  If that’s what excites Murray then he might as well dress Michael Sdao when he’s healthy–he’d fight more than Cowen and wouldn’t require as much ice time.  As Nichols says in his comments, what’s disturbing is Murray’s insistence that he see’s no issue with a Borowiecki-Cowen pairing–we can only hope Dave Cameron is aware of the disaster and avoids it in the regular season.

wikstrand

Elliotte Friedman‘s 30-thoughts included this:

GM Bryan Murray unloaded on Mikael Wikstrand after the young defenceman went back to Sweden because of family concerns. I can totally understand Murray’s frustration. They are intrigued by Wikstrand’s potential and he probably would play some NHL games this year. But, when cooler heads prevail, I’d expect the Senators to try and see if there is still a future for Wikstrand in the organzation. He’s only 21. Remember that Ottawa has a long association with the agent, Todd Reynolds, through Mike Fisher, Chris Neil and Matt O’Connor. That can help.

Indeed, cooler heads should prevail and the Sens should keep lines of communication open.  It would be pointless to be petulant about his behaviour and waste a talented asset.

analysis

When you read theories and analysis there’s a lot to keep in mind: is the information provided sourced? Are the sources credible? Is quality data being used? What’s been left out (if anything)?  In many cases you can’t know all the answers to those questions, so you want other data to correlate things.  All this is pertinent in my response to Joss Weissbock’s PCS work.  I think the formula has a critical flaw in one of its criteria (of three), with its inclusion of height as a determinate factor.  Correlation does not equal causation–a self-evident truth, but just to give you an example of it at work: fans will recall that once upon a time whenever Chris Phillips scored a goal a stat would be dragged out about Ottawa’s winning percentage when he scored.  On the surface that seems pretty simple–Big Rig scores, the team wins.  If this were literally the case then Phillips would be played in all scoring situations–you’d see him on the first powerplay unit, perhaps lining up with Daniel Alfredsson, or in whatever ideal offensive arrangement you can imagine over his career–all the coach would need is just that one goal and the win would be secured.  This is obviously absurd and broadcasters used it tongue-in-cheek, but the point remains.  Besides the height problem I think using data pre-lockout (the one that ended the Dead Puck Era) is also problematic–not only did the game change in how it was played, the cap was also introduced which meant the emphasis on the draft (and therefore scouting) changed considerably–no one is nabbing Hall of Famers like Pavel Datsyuk in the sixth round anymore.

Masculinity

Andrew posted another lengthy blog on gender discrimination and while I wish there were far more posts about the topic, I’m disappointed that the post comes across not as a persuasive argument to bring people around to his point of view, but rather an expression of anger and frustration that would only appeal to people who already agree with him.  Other than catharsis I don’t see the point in preaching to the choir–if there were enough people who agreed already there would be no need to preach.  However, because he’s discussing an important issue that is underrepresented in regular sports journalism, his piece deserves a response.  Ostensibly he discusses the history of organised play in women’s hockey (mostly via anecdotal experience), with the central point being that women need to be allowed a more central place in the hockey world.  On its surface there’s nothing controversial or inflammatory about that–anyone with half a brain would agree and I’d love something like a functional pro women’s league to exist.  The problem is, the way Andrew discusses the issue doesn’t promote consensus or discuss a plan of action, instead it’s sprinkled with inflammatory elements that I think are counterproductive:

And yet mainstream hockey culture still actively discourages female fandom and resists cultivating spaces of inclusion.

Andrew can’t mean there are official policies that discriminate, so how is this occurring?  When harassment happens there should be an administrative response (by the team, forum, etc) or else the authorities should get involved–where that’s not happening, the specific institution has to be identified and rallied against.  If the problem is the laws themselves then political action needs to occur, but none of this is discussed in the piece.  There’s no onus on corporations to change their policies unless public pressure is significant (or laws are changed), so you need a public consensus that can’t be ignored to force the change.  I’m lost on what “spaces of inclusion” means–where are women being excluded from, and how?  When systematic exclusion occurs it’s something to report as above. What’s needed here is more explanation and examples that illustrate systematic discrimination which can lead to action.  Moving on:

Hockey’s contempt for women is seen in the NHL’s (and minor and junior leagues) atrocious handling of issues of violence against women and sexual assault. It’s illustrated plainly in hockey marketing and media.
Many men who love hockey hate what they perceive as the intrusion of women into their domain.

I’m not sure what the personification of “Hockey” implies–is it all hockey fans? Is it all hockey institutions?  The former would be ridiculous, so I assume he means the latter–he should be clearer.  Hockey leagues (and most sports leagues) are backwards in their handling of violence against women and they deserve criticism for how they handle it (as does the largely compliant media that covers them).  That said, the final comment is absurd–Andrew can have no idea what percentage of men “hate” the “intrusion” of women in hockey.  That’s the problem with using anecdotal evidence to justify your arguments–it just takes one other person to say none of their friends have had that problem and your argument goes up in smoke.  Regardless, anyone who does have an issue with women in hockey needs their head examined.  Next:

We continue to brand fandom space as male. … Hockey culture reinforces the centrality of men at the expense of women. Women exist on the fringes, the periphery, marginalized by the toxic masculinity that is pervasive in fan culture.

Who is “we”?  The next conversation I have with a hockey fan that begins with them demanding the women leave the room will be the first (I really hate broad sweeping statements that aren’t backed by evidence).  If he simply used facts to back up his statements–polling data, some articles, something, he’d make a much more persuasive argument.  As it stands, people who already agree with him will continue to do so and those that don’t won’t change their minds.

Many male fans think discrimination in the game has decreased in recent years.

I think he should write “many people”, as presuming he can speak for all women is a little ridiculous (as is assuming there’s an absolute gender line in opinions about anything).  Apparently Andrew can’t or doesn’t accept that the reason people think the situation is  improving is because there’s evidence that it has–bemusingly Andrew provides some of that evidence at the beginning of his article:

In Canada, female registration in minor and rec hockey has grown almost 1000% since the 1990-91 season

So clearly women are doing almost a 1000% better than 25 years ago.  To deny any progress serves no purpose–it just detracts from his argument–you’re far more likely to persuade people by talking about what’s changed for the better and then talking about the next step (god knows, the doom and gloom approach for those who are trying to push for climate change legislation has failed utterly–people simply tune out things that are only negative).  Finally:

Some refuse to acknowledge domestic violence and sexual assault at all.

Some people refuse to believe that the world is round (I endured a lengthy speech by a Flat Earther back in university–I wish I’d recorded it for posterity, but alas there were no iPhones back in 1996).  There are always going to be idiots, bigots, and sexists in the world–it’s not possible to enlighten everyone.  The best response to people like that is to both ignore them as well as putting policies in place that prevent people like that from having an impact on the sport (which requires enforcement).  No one not on the league’s payroll is going to seriously argue that hockey has kept up with the times–the league and their media lapdogs should be pushed harder, but the way to change that is to change public attitudes.  At any rate, that’s just my opinion–I encourage you to read the piece and form your own.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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