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?
UPDATE 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.