TIM BAINES: We’re really pleased to welcome Darren Dreger to our Digital Faceoff panel today. Unfortunately, it means Don Brennan has to sit one out. Excuse me while I wipe a tear away. Let’s start with world juniors. What a colossal disappointment!
DARREN DREGER: Hi fellas. Well, colossal disappointment is one way to describe it. This was a rare Canadian collapse. However, credit should be given to the Russians and their coaching staff for motivating such a huge comeback.
BRUCE GARRIOCH: Thanks for doing this, Darren. Try to be better than James Duthie. Shouldn’t be hard. Feel bad for those kids. They worked so hard and we all know how we feel about silver in Canada when it comes to hockey.
DREGER: Agreed. It’s easy to say, “Let’s analyze the body of their work,” and the fact Canada, which wasn’t considered the tournament favourite, did well to get to the gold-medal final for a 10th straight year, but to finish second after dominating the Americans and outplaying the Russians for 40 minutes, won’t be easy to accept.
BAINES: Yes, we need to give credit to the Russians, for not only their tenacity and will to win, but, apparently, also for their ability to consume plenty of alcohol as underage drinkers, hence they were tossed off a plane. But, and I am going to try and pussyfoot around this, well, we choked. Now, that’s a harsh word. But the kids blew a 3-0 lead. The goalie was bad. The defence was bad. The forwards were bad. Maybe the coaching was bad. One horrible period. And these terrifically talented and grounded kids will always be remembered for that.
GARRIOCH: Yikes. It’s tough to call a bunch of kids “chokers” but that’s what this group will be remembered for. Pierre McGuire called it one of the biggest collapses in Canadian international hockey history.
DREGER: “Choker,” for me, is similar to “gutless.” Only those on the ice in the game can attach those titles. Plus, what’s this “we” stuff, Tim? Didn’t see you on the bench.
BAINES: I can barely even skate. That wouldn’t entitle me to be on the bench. But I am Canadian. And that makes this a “we” situation. Although I may have been trying to distance myself from that Wednesday night.
GARRIOCH: You can use “we” when discussing Canada. We’re all Canadians, Dregs.
DREGER: I know you use it often in discussions involving the Sens. Hahaha.
GARRIOCH: “We’d” never do that. Tim is a Leafs fan.
DREGER: Brace your ankles. That way you’ll suffer less damage in the future when you jump off the bandwagon. Oh, I’m on a roll now, boys! Are we going to talk about the Senators?
GARRIOCH: There has been so much talk about Dave Cameron becoming the next coach of Ottawa. You guys have to think his reputation takes a hit with that loss.
DREGER: Cameron has to accept his role in the debacle, no question. I’m sure he does. I know my BlackBerry was buzzing early in the third from all of the armchair coaches asking why he didn’t use his timeout earlier. Russia approached the third with an open throttle and some believe Cameron needed to regain his team’s composure long before Russia scored the 3-3 goal.
BAINES: Plenty of turmoil here. Darren, in your opinion, are the Senators a playoff team? And would you expect a change behind the bench?
DREGER: At this point, there’s little reason to believe Ottawa is a playoff team. Firing coaches is too easy, but in this case, based on what I’m told is a real negative atmosphere around the team, there may be no choice, especially if this weekend goes poorly. Question is, does Bryan Murray return to the bench for the remainder of the year, and what happens to him at the end of the season?
GARRIOCH: My belief is unless Eugene Melnyk gives Murray backing to lead this team into the future and allows him to hire another coach, then he goes back behind the bench.
DREGER: And then rides off into the sunset at the end of the year and begins a richly deserved retirement? That would be my guess, meaning Melnyk is thinking new GM, new coach, new hockey ops.
BAINES: So if they are not a playoff team, and Melnyk may be reluctant to think that way, do you deal away some of your cornerstones, veterans like Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips? Mike Fisher would have to agree to a move. Nashville? I can’t imagine there’s a whole lot of calls on Alex Kovalev. So what else is left to deal?
DREGER: Fisher would lure a bunch, but he’s such a big part of this team and still has tons to give.
GARRIOCH: The only guy out of that group that may go is Phillips. That will be up to him.
BAINES: Bruce suggests they are chasing a No. 1 goalie. Is there such a thing available right now?
DREGER: Khabibulin. Nabokov, although many question his game. Cory Schneider in Vancouver is ready to be a No. 1, but I can’t see the Canucks considering that until the summer.
GARRIOCH: This is why they need to make a decision going forward soon. If Murray has a plan, then let him execute it.
BAINES: So Murray’s phone won’t be ringing off the hook. It’s not like a card game and he’s holding the aces. He really doesn’t have much to put on the table, does he?
DREGER: Not unless he’s willing to move young roster players, prospects or draft picks.
DREGER: It’s still early, fellas. I predict we’ll see more moves in the coming days. There are still a lot of teams trying to determine what direction they should be going in. Ottawa included.
BAINES: Brian Burke must have his swap shop open for business. Kris Versteeg is a guy whose name is out there. Is he the Leafs’ biggest trading chip right now? Will Tomas Kaberle accept a move? Other Leafs who might be looking for a new home?
DREGER: No to Kaberle, unless a strong contender at the deadline can convince him otherwise. Teams are calling Toronto about Versteeg, Grabovski, Bozak, Beauchemin and MacArthur, in terms of the Maple Leafs’ key players. Toronto insists they aren’t being shopped, but everyone is in play!
GARRIOCH: Does Versteeg get moved?
DREGER: Only if it’s an impact deal that would likely have to include a top-line centre as part of the package.
BAINES: Really appreciate you checking in for this, Darren. Ottawa Sun readers will find you on TSN or they might want to read you on tsn.ca.