January 25, 2011
Sens' barn has stench to it
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
During the all-star break, the Senators might consider putting up a sign on their front door: “Please disregard the mess.”
Indeed, their “barn” has become an absolute pigsty.
Since moving into Scotiabank Place, the Senators have shed the label of being a bad hockey team. Until this season.
After their seventh consecutive home-ice loss, the Senators are stuck at 9-14-4 at SBP. Their worst full-season record since taking up residence in Kanata was 1996-97, when they were 16-17-8.
The Senators have 14 home games left this season. For the most part, they’ll be playing good teams, clubs with something at stake.
Expecting them to win at least seven would be a stretch.
Despite the calamity, the king of their castle has no intention of packing up and leaving.
“Everybody, as they get older, would like to always be in a spot where you have one of the best teams in the league and you’re fighting for the Stanley Cup,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said Tuesday morning. “But that’s not where we are this year and I have no problems being in Ottawa. In the situation we’re in, I’m not happy about it, but I’m going to make the most of it. I’m going to try to help all the young guys get better and get this ship in the right direction.”
Asked if he would consider a trade, Alfredsson replied: “As of now, that’s not part of my plan at all. If something were to come up or Bryan (Murray) were to talk to me, I would just keep that really between us and go from there.
“I’ve been part of this since 1995 and we’ve been through our ups and downs off the ice and on the ice throughout my years here. That’s life. Everything is not going to go your way. I believe how you act during tough times shows the kind of character you have. We’re definitely being tested right now.”
PAUL OF ST. PAUL
From the outdoor rink (ODR) at Kilreen Park, to a championship season with the Ottawa West Golden Knights Jr. B’s, to a starring role with a Gatineau Olympiques, 21-year-old Sabres C Paul Byron scored his first NHL goal in his second NHL game Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place. “This kind of feels like my first game,” Byron, who went to St. Paul high school, said before facing the Senators. “I didn’t have anyone there in Long Island (when he had an assist in his NHL debut Saturday), everyone kind of waited for me to be here, so I’m a little nervous for tonight.” Byron is 5-foot-9 and listed at 156-pounds on HockeyDB.com. His size, particularly his weight, suggests he’s way too small to play in the NHL. But he’s also as fast as they come and he’s got “real good tenacity for a small man,” says Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff. It was only a few short years ago that Byron dazzled ’em at Kilreen, an ODR beside his family home that doesn’t even have boards. “Just snowbanks,” he said. “It was more fun. When you played with your buddies, you kinda just pushed them it the snowbank.” Byron still plays summer hockey with his pals from the Golden Knights, guys like Glen Cameron, Jordan Stitt, Mike Wallace and Sam Majic. And he still keeps in touch with former Olympiques teammates and coach Benoit Groulx. He remains tight with Claude Giroux, with whom he carried Gatineau to a Memorial Cup berth (in 19 QMJHL playoff games that season, Byron scored 21 goals Giroux had 51 points) and it doesn’t surprise him that Giroux has already become one of the NHL’s best players. “Definitely not,” he said. “Anyone who knows Claude knows he’ll do anything to win. Didn’t matter what we played. NHL on X-Box, or outdoor rink hockey. The guy would do whatever it took to win.”
Things I think I think
There’s no way Sergei Gonchar’s game-tying goal should have counted. In clearing a path for his shot, Nick Foligno took a run at D Andrej Sekera and conveniently bowled over G Ryan Miller in the process. He should have been given a penalty for goalie interference ... When a puck fired into the Senators bench somehow found Alex Kovalev’s eye/schnoze, it reminded us of a great Colby Armstrong quote you might have missed earlier this season. Asked about the Ben Eager sucker-punch that damaged his eye, the Leafs forward said: “I don’t know how he missed my nose.” ... GM Bryan Murray admitted Tuesday that he answered “one year” when he thought the reporter asked him how long before the Senators are competitive. “The New York Islanders are competitive,” Murray said. “They work hard.” To the question, how long before they are a contender again, Murray replied: “A few years.” That sounds about right ... Going to safely say that never before has an NHL team boasted two players with a 13-inch height difference. And you know what, there seems to be an even bigger gap than that between the very top of Tyler Myers (6-foot-8) and fellow Sabre Nathan Gerbe (5-foot-5). “I think he’s 5-foot-4½,” one Buffalo player said of Gerber. I knew it ... A small group of us “experts” determined, at the morning skate, that Brian Elliott would be a capable backup goalie. After the Jochen Hecht backhand that beat him in the first period, I’m trying to decide what league.
Always wild about Harry
A visit by the Sabres means a chance to catch up with one of the funniest guys in hockey, Sabres broadcaster Harry Neale.
Also made us think — if the Senators are going to be bad next season, they might as be self-deprecating, right?
How about you coaching them, Harry?
“I haven’t lost a game in 22 years,” Neale proudly stated Tuesday morning. “Of course, I haven’t won one, either.”
Neale produced some gems during his career as bench boss of the Canucks and Red Wings in the 1980s.
“I know my players don’t like my practices, but that’s OK because I don’t like their games,” he once said.
Another time: “Our system of forechecking is to shoot the puck ... and leave it there.”
Neale was also the author of a quip worthy of a spot in the Hall of Fame.
“Last year, we couldn’t win at home. This season, we can’t win on the road,” he said while with the Canucks. “My failure as a coach is, I can’t think of any place else to play.”