It’s only fitting that Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was in town earlier this week discussing a Major League Soccer franchise. The way his team has been scoring lately, it has begun to look like a soccer team.
The Senators entered play last night as the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL, with a paltry 111 goals in 45 games. What was curious about the whole thing was that Melnyk, at least for public consumption, wouldn’t even consider a complete rebuild on the roster, saying, “You blow up crippled organizations and this is not a crippled organization.”
Maybe not, but the Senators certainly aren’t getting around the way they did before. This is a team that had Wade Redden, Zdeno Chara and Joe Corvo in recent years, but finds itself searching for a puck-moving defenseman. It has almost no secondary scoring and the primary scoring it has is prone to long stretches of low productivity (read Heatley, Dany). Despite what the organization says, the prospects in its system are nothing to get worked-up about and there is no stud waiting in the wings in the minors, juniors, college or Europe.
So, let’s see. The present looks bleak for the Senators and the future doesn’t look any screaming heck either. If Melnyk doesn’t want to “blow up” his organization, that’s his prerogative. But for him to not even consider doing it at this point leaves a lot of people in the hockey industry scratching their heads.
After all, would anyone scorn Melnyk if he decided Bryan Murray was not the man to run this organization? Murray is a terrific coach, but his managing resume leaves something to be desired. It was Melnyk who ultimately decided to do away with John Muckler as GM and install Murray. And do you remember why? Well, part of the reason was because Muckler didn’t get Gary Roberts at the trade deadline a couple of years ago. Great move that would have been, eh?
There is no disputing the Senators have gone south in a big way since Murray took over running the hockey department. Many of his personnel decisions have gone badly, to the point where “blowing up” this roster might be the only long-term answer.
Even Melnyk has to recognize that by now.
This column also appears in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.
Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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