Thursday, April 17, 2008

2008 Playoffs: Round 1, Day 8
What's Ottawa's next move?

What Melnyk needs now is front-office stability. To fire the GM and the coach one year after reaching the Stanley Cup Final, well, that’s not intelligent. Good teams don’t do that. No one has a better idea of how to fix this Gong Show than Murray, and he deserves the opportunity. Let’s not forget that he was the architect of the current Stanley Cup champion and the bench boss of the reigning – but soon to be dethroned – Eastern Finalist.
Friedman wrote this Wednesday morning, before Ottawa was swept by the Penguins, but that loss was really a foregone conclusion. What we didn't yet know was how the team's billionaire owner would react.

Many predicted Bryan Murray would get his walking papers in the next few weeks, making the Senators the third Canadian franchise in search of a new GM this summer, but Melnyk openly supported Murray staying on in an interview during the game.

Given what happened to this team from the 20-game mark on, that's a bit of a surprise. If the Capitals' dream run this season was from worst to first (in the division, anyway), Ottawa somehow managed the opposite feat, going from the penthouse to the outhouse in little more than four months.

Since Nov. 15, this team was 28-33-8, including the four postseason losses, which is equivalent to a 76-point team over 82 games (which, if you don't mind my funny math, would tie them with Atlanta as the third-worst team in the NHL).

Matt Fenwick absolutely hit the nail on the head with this one heading into the playoffs: Ottawa was the worst team in the postseason.

And they played like it, too, albeit with a few key injuries hampering their chances.

Two GMs turfed in two years would have been an awful blood trail to leave, but does anyone foresee Murray sticking around long term?

And how on earth do you "fix this gong show" when no one can really put their finger on just what went wrong?

I'm hoping to write about the Predators soon, but the playoffs have meant a lot of late nights on my end. I'll say this much: Great crowd tonight in Tennessee.

This team deserves more credit for how it's played this year.



At 1:49 a.m., April 17, 2008, Blogger agb said...

Melnyk was interviewed Wednesday, he said he has no intention of firing Murray, win or lose. It remains to be seen if he's going to go back on his words.

At 2:04 a.m., April 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, this would seem to contradict your prediction.

At 2:06 a.m., April 17, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Thanks guys, I missed that on the desk tonight. I'll amend the post a little.

At 4:19 a.m., April 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see all remaining series in the East wrap up n five games.

And I wouldn't be shocked to see all four series in the West go the full seven games -- with either team winning. The conference is that competitive.

At 7:04 a.m., April 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So nobody's responsible for letting Ray Cancery remain in the dressing room?

At 8:53 a.m., April 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friedman feels that Murray built this team as GM? I don't recall him being the GM when they went to the Cup Finals last season. Guess anybody can write a column these days, facts be damned.

As GM he did manage to select a coach that lasted less than a season, was lauded for landing two players that didn't fit into the Senators system, alienated one of his top four d, and was eliminated in a first round sweep with his second choice as coach (himself). Kudos all around, guess a lot of teams are so disappointed Jacques Martin is not available they feel a need to cling to their current GM. - Hockey1919

At 10:14 a.m., April 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, Friedman was referring to the fact Murray built ANAHEIM as a GM.

At 10:49 a.m., April 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading it differently, I guess you can assume it was GM Muckler and coach Murray that were removed or that GM Murray who built Anaheim in the Final? Either way this team has become quite dysfunctional under the new "stable" ownership. - Hockey1919


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