Capital On Fire
The Centennial Flame burns outside Parliament Hill, but a fire has also spread through the locker room of the Ottawa Senators.
General Manager Nathan Smith, formerly of the Pittsburgh Penguins, thought he had made a good team better when he took over in the off-season.
"We looked at what we had, and took steps to fill perceived gaps", explained Smith. "We saw what Mike Vernon did for the North Stars last year, and there's no questioning the talent of Rick Vaive. For whatever reason, they just didn't find their footing here. Given the age of the team, if it's not successful, major changes were bound to come."
The Senators took additional steps to compete by signing Darren Veitch, Marc Habscheid, and others.
However, a 2-7-1 start was the catalyst for a drastic swing in the other direction - a fire sale. It began with a blockbuster deal with the New York Islanders: trading Alexander Mogilny, Rick Vaive, Fredrik Olausson, Ken Daneyko and future considerations for Alexei Kovalev, prospect Daymond Langkow, Barry Richter, and 1st round picks in 1996 and 1997.
Since that deal, the Senators have sent sniper Mike Foligno to Colorado for Yanic Perreault, Vladimir Krutov, and prospect Dan Cloutier, and sent Rod Brind'Amour to Chicago for Jozef Stumpel, and most recently, Mike Vernon and Bernie Federko went to St. Louis in return for scrappy goaltender Ron Hextall, prospect Sergei Krivokrasov, and a 3rd round pick in 1998.
Each of these moves has served to make the Senators a younger team, leaving several remaining veterans wondering where they'll end up before the season's out.
Same ole situation
This years addition of the Winnipeg Jets is basically doing what this team has done over the past few seasons. Win a few, look like a solid team. Lose a few, look like a train wreck.
With no real meaningful offseason additions, the Jets are pretty much a dinosaur in search of an asteroid. This is likely to be the teams final year with their lineup in tact and after this season the team will almost certainlybe fully dismantled (not completely by choice, the team has 15, yes 15 players on expiring contracts). And with a cupboard that would shock Mother Hubbard, the chances of Winnipeg bringing in anyone is less than zero percent!
And with a few long time Jets getting long in the tooth, this may end up being their final season before they take the long trek to retired land, chances are the Jets will be a completely different team by this time next year. A sad truth but an inevitable one that management knew would come sooner rather than later with their all in mentality over the past few seasons.
One must ask then, will this team look at getting a head start and move out players before the deadline in an attempt to recoup some sorely needed depth and possible future? Or will the GM add another slang term to this motley crew and attempt one more kick at the can.
It is Official
As the Fleetwood's sang in the 50's or 60's, I'm Mr. Blue, Bernie Federko is, the RHS's version of Mr. Blue. No matter where he went. Be it LA LA land after that block buster trade. Or in Ottawa where kept his 30+ goal seasons going, he was always a Blue. He spent 9 and a bit seasons in St. Louis. He is the most decorated Blue in history. Now, at 39, he is returning to his old stomping grounds, the Checkerdome.
Federko is the second, all time leading scorer in the RHS. He sits well behind Wayne Gretzky. But is a head of superstars Bobby Smith and Bryan Trottier. As a Blue, Federko racked up 304 goals, 503 assists for 807 points. Now he will be returning to the place that he spent the majority of his career, to finish his career.
But, he is not alone. Also coming to St. Louis is goalie Mike Vernon. Mike Vernon, who is on his 5th or 6th team already in his career, will be replacing Ron Hextall. Although Hextall had some good games. He also had some very poor games. The Blues just could not rely on him anymore. In each game that he started, they did not know which Ron was going to show up. So, with Vernon getting a fresh start, they hope that he can be a little more consistent. Playing behind a more defensive oriented team, in St. Louis, this may help Vernon become the great goalie that everyone thinks that he can be.
Jock Strapp reporting, TSN, St. Louis.