Senators News & Notes

Ary M blew my mind today by coming up with the best tagline for the Ottawa’s management that I’ve seen: risk averse.  Here’s the full context:

Quite frankly, the Senators are risk-averse: it’s easier to reward players who a) look like they’re obviously expending effort and b) have been in your organization longer because you “know more” about them, regardless if your evaluation is wrong or not.

This is absolutely on-target and I’m going to staple that motto onto the org until things change.


The Nichols stenotape machine was back in action for Bryan Murray and two things struck me: Curtis Lazar (who, as Nichols points out, is the fourth-least productive forward at 5-on-5 in the NHL) and Mikael Wikstrand.  The former I’ve already discussed (Ary M above talks about him too), so here’s the Swede:

Whether he got hurt or pulled himself out after the first period of the first game, I’m not sure now in hindsight.

How paranoid does Murray have to be to think Wikstrand pulled the chute during a game?  This makes no sense on any level–if he wanted to fake an injury he’d do it before the game (“oh god I pulled my hamstring”).

He told them and it was all over Sweden that it was just a matter of time (before) Ottawa was going to give in and let him go back and play.

That he wanted to play in Sweden is readily apparent–from Farjestad’s press release and other statements in Swedish publications, there’s no question that he said it was his preference, but this wasn’t secretive so hardly speaks of conspiratorial intent.

he’s been able to manipulate (people) two or three times in his career already – the opportunity to do what he wanted to do in hockey

Without any context we can make nothing of this (the only player movement in his career was being traded from Frolunda to Farjestad).

I don’t ask my daughters to leave their jobs or their life in Denver, Colorado to come home and be around me. We can get you home in six or seven hours if anything should happen if you have to go home and see your brother or your family.

To compare a young man dealing with leukemia to his own struggles with cancer (as well as comparing the response of a man in his 70s to one in his early 20s) is beyond absurd.  Murray is very glib about the ability of someone playing professional hockey in North America to make cross-Atlantic flights to visit with family–there are few times in either an NHL or AHL season where time would permit that and Murray constantly comparing it to situations in North America (with shorter flight times and little to no jet lag) is absurd.  But the crux of all this is Murray’s hint at a conspiracy, so let’s explore it, shall we?

The premise: Wikstrand conspires to bilk the Sens out of his bonus money.  Is this plausible?  It has happened before (Lee Sweatt pulled the trick back in 2011, although he retired after getting the money to go to school), but does this apply?

The basics: a conspiracy is an agreement between persons to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of their legal rights or to gain an unfair advantage.  The only way a conspiracy can be imagined here would be Wikstrand with his agents and/or Farjestad.  I find the idea ridiculous and nothing in what’s happened shows any signs of sophistication:
-First, let’s address the money motive: yes, 160k is fantastic, but it’s not Colin Greening or Andrew MacDonald levels of robbery–while there’s no tracking of SHL salaries, estimates put the average at around 400k (Euro’s, which is slightly higher than the American dollars the Sens would pay him).  Wikstrand just isn’t desperate for money
Wikstrand was traded to Farjestad in April and told everyone in Sweden for the next five months that he’d like to play there–this is not hiding or disguising an intent and it includes having his agent talk to Ottawa about being loaned to Sweden–conspiracy requires secrecy and you can’t get more public than this
-Being suspended does not negate being paid his bonus, so he could have pulled the chute on the Sens in the summer rather than participate in training camp and embarrass himself by running away
Wikstrand hid his brother’s illness from everyone, despite it being the primary source of sympathy for what he wanted to do–if he was conspiring this would have been public at the beginning and given him leverage in negotiating with the organisation; lest we forget, Murray didn’t initially believe his brother was sick
-Running away from the team without telling anyone is the opposite of a well-thought out strategy–it’s an act of desperation–none of which speaks to a cynical desire for money

The whole idea is absurd.  What you can say is that Wikstrand wanted to stay home and play near his brother–that’s simply fact–and he’s admitted he should have been public about why.  To me his other actions are in line with those of a young man conflicted about his professional obligations and his private ones.  However much we might want to chide Wikstrand on how he’s handled things, it doesn’t make Murray’s comments warranted.  All Murray has done since this happened is denude the value of an asset.  If you believe the guy is never going to play for you, fake sympathy and talk about how brave he is–derive some value from one of the only talented blueliners in the system.  Instead Murray has taken the role of a grumpy old man, carping and complaining and insulting the player until he has no value at all.


Binghamton fell 4-3 to Springfield last night, blowing a 2-1 and 3-2 lead.  Eric O’Dell was clearly not himself in his return.  The team’s awful record when they score 3 or fewer goals continues (1-10-2), as does their record when giving up a PP goal against (3-10-1).  The play-by-play:

Kostka makes an ill-advised pinch and Carlisle is able to break up the 2-on-1
1. Hammond is beaten by a wrist shot short side (it’s a bad goal–I thought it might have been tipped, but it just caught him moving the wrong way)
Claesson is lucky to avoid injury as he’s run from behind and his helmet hits the dasher
-Nice stop by Hammond off a 3-on-2
Puempel with a brutal giveaway in his own zone
Ewanyk stoned on a breakaway
2. Flanagan taps in a bounce pass/missed shot (depending how generous you are) by Fraser
-Great save by Hammond on a breakaway
3. Ewanyk‘s wraparound sneaks under the pads
4. Ewanyk takes a lazy high sticking penalty in the neutral zone and on the PP Springfield cashes in off a rebound with numbers in front (scorer was Claesson‘s check, but his dive to block a pass failed–McCormick could have collapsed down as well)
Hammond stops a breakaway
5. Nice little give and go that results in McCormick scoring
6. McCormick makes a bad pass that results in a breakaway and Hammond‘s slide misses
7. Classic Fraser as he’s stripped of the puck and Hammond is beaten high off the iron from just above the dot
Kostka defends a 2-on-1 off a fanned pass by Carlisle
Kostka with a great stick-check right in front

While Andrew Hammond didn’t look like Henrik Lundqvist in the game, the loss isn’t on him–he stopped 2 of 3 breakaways and suffered through the usual gong show that is Binghamton’s porous defense.  One positive is that Ben Harpur did not contribute to the loss (which I think is a first for him this season).


Evansville lite up Cincinnati’s third-goaltender (Neil Conway) with six goals and coasted the last half of the game to a 7-3 win in Scott Greenham‘s return.  The third line drove the offence.  Alex Guptill didn’t play (unsure yet if he was a healthy scratch or injured [healthy]), while Vincent Dunn drew back into the lineup (there was also a Jack Downing sighting for Binghamton fans with good memories).  The goals:
1. Strandberg picks up the puck off a Greenham save and speeds down on a 2-on-1 with Dunn who finishes
2. On the PP Rumble‘s shot goes wide and Strandberg knocks it in off the bounce
3. Humphries doesn’t take the man in front who bangs in the rebound on the PP
4. Zay rips it in from just inside the dot
5. Zay has about four shots on goal before the wraparound finally goes in
6. Fawcett rips home a rebound
7. Rumble scores five-hole on the rush (a terrible goal given up by Conway)
8. With Humphries in the box a one-timer off a great cross-ice pass goes in
9. IceMen overload the wall, lose the battle and outnumbered 3-to-1 in front of the net Carlson can’t take all the sticks to prevent the puck from being banged in
10. Moon scores on the empty net

Notes: Michael Trebish was hurt blocking a shot; Lukin continues to be a bad luck charm for the PK as he was on the ice for both goals against (he’s nearly averaging a PP goal against per game played now).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)