June 21, 2007
Sens drama unfolds
By JODY VANCE -- Sun Media
In the past week, high hockey drama has been unfolding in our nation's capital -- we will leave the player antics for another day and focus on the front office for now.
Senators GM John Muckler's firing came as a shock to many, but not all, as the longtime man at the helm seemed to be dragging his feet on a new deal for head coach Bryan Murray.
To say the least, it is a very unpopular move. Might Murray and his assistants have chosen to bolt? What was the holdup on inking a juicy new deal with his coach after such a successful season?
Does this add up to a longstanding GM being fired so soon after his team went all the way to the Cup finals?
My sources say that the issues between the trio of Murray, Muckler and team owner Eugene Melnyk go much farther back.
This, my friends, is an off-ice power play unfolding before our eyes.
We all get that there is no trophy for second place in the NHL, but c'mon - there are 28 other GMs who didn't make it that close and only a handful were given their walking papers. So why Muckler and why now? I smell drama -- man drama -- the best kind.
In the last week it has come to light that Muckler's ousting had less to do with losing to the Ducks and more to do with a clash of egos.
Word is, the chain of events that lead to Muckler's demise began about a year ago when the Senators allowed Zdeno Chara to leave the organization and sign as a free agent with Boston.
Bryan Murray was very upset by this. He has always preached the need to keep your best players and "Zed" was the cornerstone of his blue line.
Muckler saw things differently and let "Zed" walk. Might Chara have been the difference this post season?
No one will ever know, but you can bet John Muckler will wonder if that was his fatal choice.
Spidey senses say the Sens drama is only just beginning as the fallout from the finals feels far from over. Stay tuned.
Jody Vance is a longtime sportscaster and personality with "Leafs TV." Her column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.