Doing a line dance

TIM BAINES, DON BRENNAN, BRUCE GARRIOCH AND CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDI

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

4 on 1: Ottawa Sun Hockey Experts Debate the Issues of the Day

BRUCE GARRIOCH: Didn't we talk about this last month? Surely to goodness we're not going to waste our breath recounting this subject again. Look, it never really works. Every coach in the history of this team has gone back to it. Somebody argue otherwise. Go ahead.

TIM BAINES: Every coach goes back to it? Why? Is there some kind of proven formula that says guys have to be kept together for the rest of their lives? Are they married? The coach had no choice but to split them up. It seems to be working. Spezza, Alfie and Heatley should be together for power plays, but for now, they're best separated.

DON BRENNAN: Why does every coach go back to putting the three of them together? Gee I don't know Tim. Because it works? Duh.

BAINES: Yeah, it works real well. When they get together at the pub after the game, they can count all the Stanley Cups they've won since they've been together. Oh, maybe they do the counting after they've been at the pub. It all adds up to the same. Zilch.

BRENNAN: We sure love this topic don't we. We discuss the hell out of it every couple of weeks.

CHRIS STEVENSON: I think it's interesting that they shake up the lines to get secondary scoring, which they've got now, and now the Spezza line is cold (for one game, anyway).

BRENNAN: I think we should go back to the last time Tim wanted us to discuss the line juggling. I think we'll find that I suggested Alfredsson and Fisher would work well. Y'know, I don't get nearly enough credit for how wise I am.

GARRIOCH: Are you ever wrong Don? Just make sure everybody knows when you are right. Really, the lack of success just shows what a great player Alfredsson is, doesn't it?

STEVENSON: I'd say it's been a success given they've lost only one game in regulation since they changed the lines.

GARRIOCH: Yes, but now we read today that Hartsburg isn't happy with Spezza. Do they have to put Alfredsson back with Spezza to get them going? Is that what you're asking, Tim? I believe they do it because it works the best ... even on power plays. They've won because Mike Fisher has started to pick it up again as well.

BRENNAN: When the Senators snuck into the Cup finals, Anaheim shut down the Heatley-Spezza-Alfredsson line. And with them producing squat, there was no one to pick up the slack. They had better find another combination that works or they're going nowhere.

STEVENSON: They've got one line going right now, which is the case with just about every team in the league. It happens to be Fisher's line now (who knew?). I'd have to say up to now, the line switching has worked.

BRENNAN: What do you mean "who knew?" I knew. Didn't you just read what I said?

GARRIOCH: Who knew what? As Roy Mlakar, who has agreed to guest in one of these says, this subject is "nauseating." Did I spell that right? I don't have spellcheck on my Blackberry.

BAINES: It shouldn't be "nauseating" to the guy they call The Bald Wayne Gretzky." He should concern himself with all things hockey and this happens to be a hot-button topic, one that isn't likely to go away any time soon. When Roy comes on the panel, maybe we can discuss something just as nauseating, like his Cleveland Indians.

BRENNAN: Roy does not have skin thick enough to play with us. I can't imagine what subject he'd want on the table. I can't imagine it would be anything but rose coloured.

GARRIOCH: Careful. He is going to be our guest. Don't scare him off before he gets the chance to come to the roundtable. Now, back to this line thing, were they changed today?

STEVENSON: Status quo for the Habs game. Isn't everybody a little quick to be ripping the changes? They've played pretty well -- relatively speaking -- since shaking the lines up.

GARRIOCH: Who is ripping them? Nobody. I guess everybody just has questions because suddenly Spezza is having a lack of production.

BAINES: We won't sugarcoat things just to have Roy on our panel. He's got to learn to say bad things about Don, question Bruce's revelations and get glazed eyes when Chris taps in some words of wisdom.

STEVENSON: And say "huh, how the hell did he become sports editor?" when Tim says anything.

BRENNAN: I wouldn't mind hearing the answer to that one myself.

BAINES: Becoming sports editor isn't so difficult. You just kiss a lot of butt. You don't really have to know a lot about hockey or really anything else.

STEVENSON: And, Tim, you are proof of that each day.

BRENNAN: Chris, where are you? We've got to get going to Montreal. There are some beers at Hurleys with our name on them. I can continue this debate as I steer the wheel with my knee.

GARRIOCH: Have a good day. Please take a moment to remember all our veterans (like my father Jack) and those who have lost their lives to keep Canada a free country.


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