Time to shake up Sens?

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 2:46 PM ET


 TORONTO -- The simple answer, and maybe it has been the answer all these years, is they are just not that good.

 Is that possible for such an apparently gifted and talented team?

 The Senators failed again last night, failed their fans, failed their coach, failed themselves.

 Most of all, they failed new owner Eugene Melnyk, who rescued this team from extinction and invested in making it a winner.

 He was sold a bill of goods and wakes up this morning to the grim reality that there is no customer service counter to give him a refund, no complaints desk to offer up an explanation for why the box was empty when he got home and opened it up.

 Once again, when so many fans, certainly the coaches and you would hope at least a few the players, thought maybe this time it would be different, it was not.

 The Senators didn't even make a game of it last night in another Game 7 debacle that should mark the end of a number of careers as Senators employees.

 They didn't get beat by a better team.

 They didn't get beat by Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour, for the fact is they made his life too easy.

 They were laid to rest by the hated Leafs, put to sleep by a team without Mats Sundin, its captain and top offensive player and a thin group of defencemen, a third of which would have trouble finding employment elsewhere.

 SHAKY GOALTENDING

 They were done in by some shaky goaltending by Patrick Lalime, who gave up a couple of awful goals when, given the way the series had gone, he could afford to give up none.

 This group, as it exists, has had enough chances to show what it can do.

 Now, Melnyk must act.

 Who would have thought that just six months after he ushered in his era with an Eagle concert at the Corel Centre, he would be faced with such difficult decisions?

 No one in the organization should escape the gaze of a man who knows what it takes to make tough decisions.

 You don't get to be a self-made billionaire without knowing who can do their jobs and who can't. Melnyk kept the Senators together this year, a good idea at the time since it had come within a goal of reaching the Stanley Cup final. He has had a year to see this operation in action.

 He committed upwards of $10 million to make the moves at the trade deadline he was told would put this team over the top.

 DIFFERENCE MAKERS?

 Melnyk and Senators fans were told Lalime was good enough to take this team to a Stanley Cup, that Peter Bondra and Greg de Vries could be difference makers in the playoffs.

 Was Lalime the reason why the Senators lost this series? He has already received his share of blame and will no doubt receive much more. He had a terrible night when it counted the most. The next time they play NHL hockey, do you want to trust he can raise his game to the level required?

 The truth is for much of the series, he gave the Senators goaltending of a quality that was good enough for the Senators to win. It's not his fault the Senators were shut out in three of the Leafs' wins. He had to be perfect. That is a lot to ask, but it is what is required at this time of year.

 "We wanted to go as far as we could," said Senators centre Todd White. "(Going out) in the first round was not what we had in mind this year. It's disapppointing because this is a series we felt we could have won easily. They changed strategy when a few things happened to them. They relied on Belfour a lot. Give them credit."

 But not too much, for this series was not about the Leafs.

 It was all about the Senators and once again the story is one of failure, of not meeting potential.

 Melnyk started this season, so bright with promise, in search of a Stanley Cup.

 Now all he is left with are questions, hard ones, and a search for answers.


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