No matter what the Sens used to do they just couldn’t get past Toronto back in the day. The Leafs flat out owned the Sens. 2 series in particular (02 and 04), the Sens were far and away the more talented of the 2 teams, yet the Leafs came out on top in 7 games because they had better goaltending and had a hell of a lot more grit than the Sens did.
Once the lockout was done the Sens had 2 seasons where they were among the elite in the league. 06 they were the top team in the Eastern conference, and in 07 they finally broke through and went to the Stanley Cup final. But once again their lack of grit got exposed and they were bounced in 5 games.
Fast forward to this past season and there was a big change in the nations capital. The Sens all of a sudden became one of the toughest teams in hockey. Carkner, Konopka, Neil, Zack Smith, Foligno, the Sens were TOUGH. And it rubbed off on the rest of the team. Anytime this team faced long odd’s during the season they sacked up and overcame. The best examples of this were in the playoffs, game 2 vs the Rangers was pretty special from an Ottawa point of view. They stood up to the Rangers in a big way physically and showed how mentally tough they were tying that game up late and taking it in OT. You just never saw that out of Ottawa teams in the past.
The Sens finally have this great thing going and have a tough culture developed. So what does Bryan Murray do? Well, obviously he blows that up. I can’t help but wonder why this guy is always on the hot seat in Ottawa….
Carkner out, Konopka out, Foligno out, and replaced by Lattendresse (soft), Lundin (soft), Methot (good D-man but not very physical). In fairness to Murray, perhaps he has some gritty guys he will still bring in (hardly any room to though). I get that they had a great season and they are developing a lot of good young talent, but this team is by no means all of a sudden in a spot where they don’t need grit.
Taking a look at guys they might plug in next season, Mark Stone is big and uses that size well but he isn’t really in your face. Silfverberg I won’t pretend to know a great deal about but what I seen in a few viewings and read about he isn’t a kid that’s going to play that style of game either. Zibanejad is maybe the only guy but I see no reason to rush him into the lineup.
It’s just more evidence that Bryan Murray just has no clue what he is doing as a GM. He has done a good job stockpiling young talent, their scouts have done a great job drafting, and they have done a great job developing so it’s not like the organization is going to fall apart due to his ineptness, but it’s scary to think how great of an organization this could be if they had a good GM at the top.
Since he took over as GM in 07-08 (which was controversial in itself) the Sens have had a lot of turmoil. The Emery saga, the Heatley saga, numerous coaching changes, it’s been a pretty large circus. This season they finally had the right mix of guys, finally got some grit and toughness, and Murray decides to overhaul that aspect of the team….I just don’t get it.
Maybe I’m completely wrong here. Perhaps going with less toughness and more grit is the right way to go. But Murray has wrecked good things he had going on in Ottawa before and so I can’t help but wonder if this is another one of those situations. We will just have to wait and see.