One of the best rivalries going to in the Northeast right now is Buffalo vs. Ottawa. In that spirit, I traded questions with Chris over at Senshot.com. Click here to read my responses to his questions.
Here is Chris Q & A:
1. Regardless of who is better in the standings, Buffalo or Ottawa, the Sens always have our number. Why do you think that is?
Prior to the lockout Buffalo had our number, but since the lockout the Sens have been the dominating team going 20-6-4. The games seem to be wide open style hockey with 4,5, which suited Ottawa better than it did Buffalo it allows Ottawa’s big line to score. If my math is right Spezza, Heatley & Alfie have scored 52 goals in 30 games since the lockout.
2. I saw some rumors about a third jersey with just the shoulder sleeve insignia on the front. Is there any truth in this, and doesnt a big O on your chest just leave open the door for a lot of zero jokes?
There is a petitition (http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ottawa-senators-alternate-jersey/sign.html) to kick it old school, circa 1919, with the jersey. If Leclaire put’s up double digit shutout’s zero’s might be a good thing.
3. Do you think keeping Heatley is a good idea? That sounds to me more of a danger than having T.O. in a football locker room.
Personally, I think that Murray is handling the situation as well as could be expected. He is an elite player and they need to get fair value in return for Heatley. If the Sens get out to a good start and Heatley is scoring goals then I think it shouldn’t be as big of a distraction the media is making it out to be. If Sens and Heatley strugglesthen we could be in for a long, long season. The Senators have been through this before with Yashin and there wasn’t a distraction. Maybe Murray is waiting for a team to hire Mike Milbury so that we can make another deal.
4. Ottawa is on its second franchise, do you think the league should be looking to Canadien cities like Quebec and Winnipeg for a second chance as opposed to Hamilton for a first shot, or even a second franchise in Toronto or Montreal?
I do not feel that Hamilton is the best setting for the NHL. The NHL moving to Hamilton will have no impact on the Leafs and would likely cause major revenue loss for Buffalo, to a point where they would need to relocate. I think Hamilton is a stop-gap for Balsille until he was able to move the team to another GTA market.
Now the problem with Winnipeg is they built a new arena in 2004 that seats 15,000 which is too big for an AHL franchise and too small for an NHL franchise, from what I’ve heard it would be too much work to make it an NHL arena and I doubt they would be able to gain the financing neccessary to build another arena.
Quebec City would need another arena, the population is a little smaller than Winnipeg but around the same as Hamilton. I f I was to say who deserved the market it would probably be i. Toronto (They can easily support another team. Just a matter of buildling the arena and getting league, Maple Leaf, approval.) ii. Quebec City iii. Winnipeg iv. Hamilton.
5. Ottawa was a real joke in the league the first four years when they came back in 1992. Florida and Tampa Bay struggle, Ph nix is tanking. Do these factors warrant a contraction in the league? Do you think the league is set to take a step back or try and move forward with an expansion?
The NHL is continuing to look in new markets such as Kansas and Las Vegas for relocation and there is no way the NHLPA would allow the league to lose any more players. Personally, I think that the league would have been best if they stayed around 24 teams. Owners greed was the main reason for the expansion moves rather than trying to better the game. That being said there are always going to be teams that play poorly look at the Red Wings in the 80′s and the Nordiques in the late 80′s early 90′s, this was before expansion.
6. If you had the opportunity to GM for the Sens, who would you flag as a “franchise player” and what move would you make in order to make the team “yours”.
Obviously Alfie is their franchise player, but the Sens need to start looking towards the future. Right now it has to be Jason Spezza, he has said all the right things during the Heatley saga, and it looks as though he is primed to become a leader.
I think the Senators will be ready to compete again in two years; so how would I rebuild this team. I would not sign any players to NTC’s.
I would try and get the Heatley situation settled preferably by trade. I would try and trade the following players; Chris Neil (trade), Chris Kelly (trade), Christop Shubert (waive), Jarkko Ruutu (trade) and replace them with Cody Bass, Patrick Regin and Ilya Zubov at the forward position. Jason Smith is virtually untradeable so I’d keep him until the trade deadline then move him. I would give Karlsson a 9 game try out with the big club at the start of the season. If he works out then I’d move Alex Picard. During the season I would try and sign Foligno and Volchenkov to 3 or 4 year contract extensions. Moving out the contracts would put me in a position to try and sign local boy Marc Savard to a contract next off-season.
7. The AHL affiliate of the Sens is in Binghamton, NY, not too far from Buffalo actually. With the trend of moving minor league clubs closer to the parent affiliates, is there any thoughts on switching affiliations with the AHL in order to alleviate some of the border hassle?
Ottawa has a pretty good relationship with Bingo and the distance is relatively close. The main obstacle is there are no more Canadian teams in the AHL that we could switch with. If London or Quebec City got a team then it would make sense, but I like saying Bingo.
8. The Sens will make the playoffs if…
Kovalev give the Senators quality secondary scoring. Two or more younger players; such as; Brian Lee, Karlsson, Regin or Zubov develop into key contributers with the Senators. The team continues to buy into Cory Clouston’s coaching.
9. The Sens will not make the playoffs if….
Pascal Leclaire gets hurt or is not fully recovered from his injury. Dany Heatley causes a circus causes a major distraction. The Senators are unable to find any secondary scoring.
10. The Sabres and Senators have the makings of a great rivalry going on, we hate your fans, you hate our fans, the teams don’t get along – what more do you think we are going to see out of games between our clubs to help further that along?
I think this season Ottawa and Buffalo should be battling it out for the final playoff spot which could help fuel the rivalry.