Trade? No, Sens must find answers from within

ERIN NICKS

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

This is going to seem harsh, but sometimes the Senators remind me of a single, desperate woman of a certain age.

You know the type -- they've been around the block with several different guys, none of whom were the right fit. In spite of it all, they keep plugging along, even though they may not be as desirable as they once were. They're looking for a man to complete them, but time and options are running short.

At what point are you forced to truthfully assess the situation and become comfortable on your own?

Think about it -- how many seasons have Sens fans heard the following before a trade deadline: "Ottawa is only missing one piece. They need a grit/depth/character guy with leadership who's won the Cup before." Pick any year since the Sens became one of the NHL's so-called elite teams, and plug in an overused adjective from the list above. It's like trade deadline Mad Libs on an annual auto-repeat.

Now let's pause for a moment and remember some of those names who were brought in on or around previous trade deadlines: Tom Barrasso. Vaclav Varada. Greg de Vries. Peter Bondra. Tyler Arnason.

Do you see any white knights on that list? Did any of them act as the catalyst to push the Sens over the top, or failing that, anywhere higher than usual in the playoffs? Are there any significant memories at all associated with these former Sens?

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.

This year's potential names include Gary Roberts, Martin Gelinas and Bill Guerin. Roberts and Guerin in particular have been at the forefront of swirling trade rumours, and given their previous reputations, it's inevitable that the Senators' name would become attached to them.

FARM DEPLETED

But where will the Ottawa players come from to achieve a "fair trade" for any of these names?

Binghamton has been utterly depleted, and future draft picks must be retained in order to replenish the farm system. Meanwhile, the idea of achieving depth by trading away a current roster member doesn't provide much logic.

Therefore, if Ottawa is unable to land someone significant before Tuesday, they'll be forced to go it alone in this year's post-season. No additional grit or leadership, and if you ask some, no hope.

That is, of course, unless the Sens stop depending on an outside entity to save them from themselves.

Everyone knows that the Senators are still young -- their average age is 26.8 years -- but their playoff experience, specifically amongst the team's core, cannot be ignored. It's about time this franchise realized the relevance of developing its own brand of grit and leadership to sustain it through 16 post-season wins. They know themselves better than anyone, and a large number of them have played together for years.

Why is another player with no former (or likely future) relationship with the Sens potentially being given such a prominent role?

It all sounds so simple -- until you remember how the current roster has recently dealt with hard-nosed adversity, particularly involving the treatment of their goaltenders. Actions must be taken to demonstrate that certain types of behaviour won't be tolerated, and above all, every team member must be defended, even if they're capable of doing so on their own.

The Senators have claimed for years that they know what needs to be done, and yet they have never accomplished these goals on their own.

Seeking out some expensive rent-a-player with the attributes they desire will never be the final piece of the puzzle. That's because players with depth, grit, character and/or championship experience represent the foundation of a team. You don't add them at the end. You build around them from the beginning.

LONG-TERM PROBLEM

A short-term band-aid can't solve a long-term problem. The Sens need to stop talking and start showing significant amounts of character/grit, instead of beginning an outward annual search for such elements during every trade deadline.

It's not easy, but sometimes you really do have to go it alone to make a point -- even if your version of "alone" refers to your current team of 21.


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