Both of my remaining readers (Hi Mom!) may well be asking themselves why I would waste their time posting a largely irrelevant and utterly meaningless season review for a failing team now two weeks dead, when there are so many other topical items over which I could be a) incredulous to the point of physical illness at the mere mention of the slightest possibility of it happening, or b) threatening, with absolute justification, to key The Bryan's car. Fair question.
There's a scene in Titanic (the cool, FX laden second half, not the sappy, love-story strapped, not-at-all-emasculating first half) where the string quartet (I will not call them "the orchestra"...orchestras have tubas) plays bravely on while all about them is a wild, careening mass of panicky lemmings. "Why bother?", the cellist asks after taking yet another elbow in the junk. "No one is listening." Their fearless leader responds "Well, they don't listen to us at dinner either. C'mon. It'll keep us warm".
And that's what I'm doing. Because sometimes, not often mind you, but sometimes, a man needs just a little more than the sight of Kate Winslet's magnificent breasts (link NSFW) to stay warm. Although that helps.
Welcome to your Totally Half-Assed Season Review, Forwards Edition! Let's rearrange the deck chairs, shall we?
Forwards (in descending order of the author's man-crush):
Daniel Alfredsson: Our Captain, our Leader, our Living God. One season removed from having the Conn Smythe trophy stolen from him, he spent most of this season as a genuine MVP candidate. And after forcing himself to come back for the last two games of the Pittsburgh series on a bad back and a knee held together with elastics and binder twine, I will have strong words for any man who accuses him of being soft from here on out.
Keep/Trade/Shoot Behind The Barn?: What, are you new? Ten seconds after he retires a Senator, his jersey is hanging from the rafters and a bronze statue is erected for the benefit of generations of clueless American tourists.
Dany Heatly: If not for a mid-season shoulder injury, he would have been a lock for a third straight 50 goal season. While his disappearing act in the playoffs was disappointing, it was also out of character, so I'll give him a (very grudging) pass. Just don't do it again.
Keep/Trade/Euthanize?: He's sold us his soul for the next six years folks, and we should be glad to have him, if for no other reason than the fact that he absolutely owns the Leafs.
Mike Fisher: Yes, he went through long stretches without a goal. Yes, he missed the playoffs after becoming yet another victim of Mark Bell's total asshatery. And yes, we may have benefited from a little more leadership from him in L'Affaire Fuckstick. But take him out of the lineup and we're out of the playoffs, probably by Groundhog day. His dedication and fearlessness, not to mention his connection to one of the major deities, are that important.
Keep/Trade/Drop a Dump Truck On His Head, 'Cause That's What It Would Take?: Another core member I would just as soon have someone carve out my spleen with a spork than lose.
Antoine Vermette: A breakout year for our favourite flying Frenchman (Whee!! Alliteration is awesome!) Stupid fast and a lethal threat for a short handed goal, he's done nothing but get better every year. Plus, he was one of the very few who bothered showing up in the Pittsburgh series, so there's that.
Keep/Trade/Paint A Fake Train Tunnel Entrance On The Side Of A Cliff (for those of you under the age of 30, look it up)?: The Bryan knows we'd be stupid not to keep him. Unfortunately, that may not be entirely up to him. Unless a new contract is signed before the deadline, expect to see a ridiculous offer sheet from another team (Hellllooooo....Kevin Lowe). Anything over $3 million plus, and we may have no choice but to swallow hard and say "Thanks for the memories...and the draft picks".
Chris Kelly: Mortal lock for the title of Most Underrated Senator Never To Have Had Carnal Knowledge of Hillary Duff. The Yin to Verm's Yang on the penalty kill, he was one of our only consistent fore, back, and mother-checking forwards. Put some meat on that skinny frame to better prepare himself to back up his delicious yapping, and we've got something special.
Keep/Trade/Sacrifice To The Salary Cap Gods In A Fit Of Shortsighted Stupidity?: Unrestricted as of Canada Day (thanks to last year's fit of pique which resulted in 1-year contract), it would be a shame if we lost him. But...we can't break the bank to prevent it. While a genuine defensive forward is gold in this league, anything more than $2 to $2.5M is too rich for a third line centre.
Cory Stillman: We've now reached the "Meh" section of this evening's program. Because he only joined the team a couple of weeks before the trade deadline, I'm reserving judgment on Mr. Stillman. While giving us glimpses of the genuine second line scoring threat we so desperately need, it just wasn't there often enough to rate him any higher.
Keep/Trade/Shake Hands And Give Him A "Thanks For Coming Out" Lapel Pin?: A UFA as of July 1st who has expressed a desire to re-sign with Ottawa, I'll put him squarely in the "we'll see" file. After all, my expectations may have been a tad high in the euphoria of the deal that brought him here in the first place. While it can't hurt to have him, the price has to be right.
Jason Spezza: The last of the Gigantic Cap Gobbling Four, and the most
Keep/Trade/Jam A Cattle Prod Up His Ass Every Time He Does Something Stupid?: There have been mutterings of dangling him as trade bait for a certain Italian-Canadian goaltender now toiling in the wilds of British Columbia, and I have to admit, the thought is a seductive one. With five full seasons under his jockstrap, his dumb-ass drop passes, blind passes through the middle and the non-existent physical game ain't cute anymore. "That's just our Giggles!" doesn't cut it mi amici, capice?
Chris Neil: I was really hoping I'd be right about him. A million years ago (okay, last October) I predicted a breakout year, with visions of some sort of Chris Draper/Tie Domi hybrid dancing in my head. Um...Not so much. An okay year, followed by a baffling disappearing act in the playoffs, does not a valuable grinder make.
Keep/Trade/Feed Raw Meat In A Possibly Futile Attempt To Recapture The Anger?: Tough call. Without a return to the fearless, body crunching uberpest with decent hands we've all come to know and love, I can't see him making it past next year's trade deadline, though I must say, it would kill me to see him go. Now repeat after me Chris: NEILER SMASH!
Dean McAmmond: Rough year. First he gets his brain scrambled by someone who should, by all rights, be somebody's prison bitch, then suffers through Teflon's inability to trust anyone not named Spezzssoneatly. After The Bryan's purge, he started to find his legs, but by then, as with everything else, it was too little too late.
Keep/Trade/Encase In Carbonite For Entire Summer In Order To Prevent Further Head Injury?: For two years running, we've lost guys we didn't realize we needed. The first was Brian Smolinski (no, really!). The second was Mike Comrie. We'll pin those on the senile delusions of a cranky old man. But Bryan, unless Dean tells you he's retiring to a Tibetan monastery to contemplate life from the perspective of a dung beetle, don't let it happen a third time.
Nick Foligno: Decent to surprisingly competent while with the Big Club, Spawn of Mike looked more comfortable as the season went on (a mid season exile to the land of buses and road side diners will do that). Being one of the better Sens during the Pittsburgh series means I will reserve my initial judgment that he was destined to become another third line plugger on a team full of them.
Keep/Trade/Damn With Faint Praise Until Daddy Demands His Release?: Considering the rape and pillage of our farm system under Muckler The Meek, the answer is pretty obvious. But if I could offer one thing by way of suggestion Nicky, you need a better goal celebration. Your dad made the Awkwardly Dorky White Guy Leap fashionable. You may want to try skating on your hands.
Martin Lapointe: The latest in the Senators illustrious Trade Deadline history, joining such luminaries as Tyler Arnason, Oleg Suprykin, Petr Bondra, and Tom Barasso, he at least achieved what none of the others had managed. He actually looked like he was happy to be here. Based on that alone, I'm kinda fond of the big lug.
Keep/Trade/Release Him To Fulfill His Hollywood Destiny As "Mongol Horde Member #3"?: Bring him back, I say. He's got a few years left in those 34 year-old legs, with the added bonus that he single handedly drags the "number of natural teeth on the fourth line" back down to acceptable levels. Plus, if there's one guy guaranteed to drive Darcy Fucking Tucker batshit crazy, it's him.
Shean Donovan: Another of The Bryan's signings in his never ending quest to bring some crash and bang to the team, what we ended up with was mostly nudge and fizzle. On the flip side, he too was a victim of Teflon's Reign of Error. So...what does that leave us with? I haven't a fucking clue.
Keep/Trade/File Under Free Agent Bust And Move On?: There was a reason Bryan brought him here. Sure, to our untrained, non-hockey-dude eyes, that reason remains a bit of a mystery, but we were told one actually exists. So let's put him as a solid...maybe. I'm with HockeySchlock Al here: "The Shean Donovan we had in this regular season is a dime a dozen."
Brian McGratten: By all accounts, a stand up guy, beloved by teammates, trainers and small children throughout the Greater Ottawa Area. Likes puppies. Great. Um...that's all I got.
Keep/Trade/Admit It's Time We See Other People?: Sorry Gratz. I really am. 38 of 82 games played. 46 penalty minutes, 11 shots, three assists. Good luck with free agency Brian. We can still hang out and stuff...
Randy Robitaille: Rescued from the dung heap that is third tier Euro "hockey", he was so grateful, he gave us...well...a very good reason he had been exiled to said dung heap to begin with. So, Randy. Feel like doing a little scouting for us?
Keep/Tra...Awww Who The Hell Am I Kidding?: Excuse me...pardon me. Comin' through here...excuse--HEY RANDY!! Ahem...Sorry, buddy. Nothing personal, you understand, but you're kind of in the way. Right this way, Mr. Bass...
The more astute among you (at least those of you nice enough to have made it this far...I cherish your pity) may notice that there are a few guys missing. This was done for two reasons. First, those I've left off, namely Cody Bass, Jesse Winchester, Ilya Zubov, Josh Hennessey and Alexander Nikulin weren't with the team long enough to pick up the tab at the rookie dinner, let alone earn enough of my ire to get dragged into the muck with the usual suspects. And secondly, this thing is already way longer than I meant it to be, and my typing fingers are getting all crampy.
So, I'll leave you to ruminate for now. Tomorrow, I'll be pulling the scab off the putrid, staph-infected pustule that was our defence and goaltending. I'm sterilizing my hazmat suit as we speak.
Senators Could Use Some Re-Leaf [Ottawa Citizen]
'Safe is Death' Tortorella in Lightning Limbo [Ottawa Citizen]