My grant for nan champion mailbag submission goes definitively to a scholar named Jake B.
On Monday morning, Jake wrote successful pinch nan pursuing comment: “Bold prediction: Either Daniel Alfredsson aliases Jacques Martin measurement successful for nan remainder of nan play arsenic a Hail Mary.”
Well, Jake, congrats for calling your shot. You didn’t moreover taxable a question, you conscionable wanted to flex your predictive powers. I dream you besides bought a lottery summons and didn’t discarded your talents only connected my mailbag inbox.
In summation to Jake’s memorable submission, I received much than 120 questions. And aft a newsworthy week, you tin ideate that a batch of them person to do pinch nan authorities of nan franchise. This has been an affectional 7 days connected galore levels for Ottawa fans.
Since we received truthful galore mailbag submissions, I’m going to break this up into aggregate columns. And we’ll tally nan 2nd 1 astatine immoderate constituent betwixt Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
(Note: Questions person been edited for clarity and length)
Hey Ian, who do you deliberation is nan frontrunner for GM? –Nick G.
This mightiness beryllium nan astir pressing and important mobility for nan franchise. I deliberation Michael Andlauer and Steve Staios want to get this 1 right. If that correct campaigner is disposable successful six weeks aliases six months, I fishy they’re consenting to wait.
If you’re asking maine for my prime astatine this stage, I deliberation I’d opportunity Mathieu Darche. There is evidently nan baked-in familiarity Andlauer would person pinch Darche from nan question and reply process from nan Montreal Canadiens wide head vacancy a mates of years ago. But much importantly, I deliberation Andlauer and Staios spot nan Tampa exemplary arsenic a roadmap to success. In galore ways, nan Lightning are nan golden modular successful nan net headdress era. I deliberation Andlauer and Staios person a ton of admiration and respect for Julien BriseBois and nan occupation he’s done successful Tampa.
So if they tin pluck personification pinch organization knowledge of what made nan Lightning tick, he would beryllium a logical fresh successful Ottawa.
One point I’ll springiness Andlauer and Staios a ton of in installments for is wholly locking nan statement successful a cone of silence. It’s really difficult to extract accusation from them and fig retired which measurement they mightiness beryllium leaning. The leaks person stopped, which is nan motion of a professionally tally operation. So we’re each conscionable making knowledgeable guesses and correct now, excavation would beryllium Darche.
Who are nan champion options retired location for a caller coach? Boudreau, Berube, and Vignault travel to mind, but nary uncertainty you’ve sewage amended ideas. —JB
I deliberation erstwhile nan wide head is successful place, nan hunt for a full-time caput coach will really power up. I don’t deliberation Andlauer and Staios wanted a business wherever they had to make aggregate coaching changes, but their manus was forced earlier this week. The business was spiralling and truthful they sent up a Bat Signal for Jacques Martin and Daniel Alfredsson to travel and stabilize things connected an interim basis.
But correct now, we person nary hint who will beryllium coaching this squad successful September.
In position of Stanley Cup-winning coaches, Craig Berube would beryllium astatine nan apical of my list. There are immoderate different Cup-winning coaches connected nan marketplace — Joel Quenneville, Mike Babcock and Daryl Sutter — but they each travel pinch important reddish flags. Berube is simply a hard-nosed, results-oriented coach who would instantly garner respect and attraction wrong nan locker room.
If nan Senators want personification pinch erstwhile NHL experience, Jay Woodcroft’s sanction would beryllium intriguing. He posted a .643 points percent successful parts of 3 seasons pinch nan Oilers, but was submarined by an atrocious agelong to commencement this year. Fold successful nan truth that Staios would person gotten to cognize Woodcroft successful Edmonton past play and possibly there’s a relationship that makes sense. Patrick Roy’s sanction should besides beryllium included present because I do deliberation Andlauer and Staios deliberation nan Hall of Fame goaltender carries a swagger and winning attitude. Remember that Roy has a Jack Adams grant and a Memorial Cup trophy arsenic caput coach. Roy is simply a bonafide victor and if you want to alteration nan civilization successful Ottawa, I’m not judge location would beryllium a much definitive prime successful that regard.
The different sanction you’re going to perceive a batch is John Gruden, nan existent caput coach of nan Toronto Marlies. Gruden coached for Andlauer and Staios successful Hamilton and enjoyed a batch of occurrence there, including delivering an OHL title successful 2018. Gruden has acquisition arsenic an NHL adjunct coach pinch nan Islanders and Bruins, positive he played 22 games pinch nan Senators successful nan precocious 1990s.
But successful bringing successful Martin connected an interim basis, it buys nan Senators immoderate time. They’re not forced to prosecute D.J. Smith’s replacement successful nan adjacent fewer weeks. They tin beryllium very diligent and methodical astir this one, while Martin tries to institute a alteration successful culture. This could besides let nan Senators to hold until nan off-season to spot what different names shingle free connected nan coaching tree. The past point Ottawa wants to do is unreserved into hiring a coach successful nan adjacent mates of weeks, only to find retired they could person had personification for illustration Rod Brind’Amour, Mike Sullivan aliases Jon Cooper — if 1 of those coaches, for example, ends up leaving their existent squad successful nan spring.
Daniel Alfredsson’s deficiency of a coaching resume shouldn’t interest fans. (Simon Hastegard / Bildbyran / Sipa USA via AP Images)
Does Alfie person immoderate coaching experience? I’m a small worried astir that item astatine nan moment. —Pierre L.
Alfredsson does person immoderate acquisition coaching his son’s competitory lucky team. And while you mightiness deliberation coaching a younker lucky squad doesn’t springiness you nan credentials to beryllium down an NHL bench, conscionable retrieve this is nan way Martin St. Louis took pinch nan Canadiens.
And astir 18 months ago, I asked Alfredsson astir St. Louis’ way to nan NHL and his eyes lit up erstwhile it came to coaching tactics.
“I loved it erstwhile Marty joined nan Canadiens and successful his opening property conference erstwhile he talked astir tactics, he said that he’s not an ‘Xs and Os’ guy. As a player, you person to beryllium capable to publication and react,” Alfredsson told maine successful June of 2022. “There are fundamentals, but wrong that, you request to make decisions arsenic a subordinate and I’m a existent believer successful that. I deliberation players request to make decisions connected their ain and not interest what nan coach is reasoning each nan time. So I spot a really bully early for Marty pinch coaching because of his approach.”
It’s absorbing because 1 of nan things Jacques Martin has been saying since taking complete nan Senators this week is that players request to “read and react.” So while he lacks coaching acquisition per se, Alfredsson is very overmuch a student of nan crippled and keenly willing successful strategies and strategy.
And I should walk on 1 much nosy quote from that 2022 question and reply pinch Alfredsson. I asked him if he was much for illustration Bryan Murray aliases Jacques Martin erstwhile he was down nan chair arsenic a coach himself.
“I deliberation I tin really beryllium some of them. It conscionable depends connected nan situation. I usually commencement retired for illustration Bryan Murray. I for illustration aggressiveness and I for illustration offence. And I for illustration dictating nan plays,” Alfredsson said. “But, I besides for illustration nan attraction to item for illustration Jacques did. So I would opportunity that I’m a operation of both, but astir apt 70-30 towards Bryan.”
My constituent is, I don’t deliberation you should beryllium worried astir Alfredsson’s deficiency of a coaching resume. I deliberation he’s arsenic passionate astir coaching arsenic he was astir playing and that’s each that matters.
Ian, what does occurrence look like, realistically, this play pinch this important of a change? —Patrick S.
Great question, Patrick.
I deliberation we request to redefine occurrence for nan Senators, because I don’t deliberation a playoff berth is simply a realistic anticipation astatine this point. I ever said I would stay hopeful while nan Sens were successful nan double-digits successful Dom Luszczyszyn’s projection model. And arsenic precocious arsenic 2 weeks ago, they were hovering astir a 30 percent chance of making nan playoffs. But this caller losing streak has plunged their playoff likelihood into nan 5 per cent range. So I deliberation it’s clip we concede that only a Hamburglar-type tally would prevention their season.
To me, occurrence successful nan adjacent 4 months won’t beryllium defined by wins and losses. The cardinal is trying to fig retired who you tin triumph pinch connected this roster. Are nan players consenting to bargain into a caller strategy and structure? These adjacent 50 games should show america which players nan Senators should move guardant pinch — and which ones they should move connected from. If they tin execute that extremity of identifying nan correct players to bent onto, this should beryllium deemed a successful season.
I’m besides funny to spot really nan mediate six fits together. When Shane Pinto comes back, really does he merge into a lineup that features Ridly Greig? I deliberation Greig has earned a full-time NHL job, truthful nan squad needs to fig retired really these puzzle pieces fresh together. If they tin fig retired what their apical 9 will look for illustration for opening nighttime adjacent season, I judge you tin constituent to that arsenic a successful development.
Why isn’t nan attraction connected really unspeakable our goalies person been? Both Forsberg and Korpisalo person atrocious numbers this year. To beryllium a apical squad successful this convention you request top-tier goaltending. So is location a scheme to woody pinch this? —Matt R.
Matt, let’s return a look astatine really nan Senators person addressed goaltending successful nan past fewer years.
They brought successful Matt Murray.
They fired their goalie coach Pierre Groulx and replaced him pinch Zac Bierk.
They sent Murray to nan AHL.
They picked up Anton Forsberg disconnected waivers and later signed him to a three-year contract.
They traded Filip Gustavsson to Minnesota for Cam Talbot.
They fto Talbot locomotion arsenic a free agent.
They gave Joonas Korpisalo a five-year contract.
In short, they’ve been trying to woody pinch their goaltending successful a bold and melodramatic manner for 4 years. And thing has worked. What’s ace vexing is that Talbot is putting up Vezina-calibre numbers successful Los Angeles this season. It’s eerily akin to what Gustavsson did pinch Minnesota past year.
Before we heap each of this astatine nan feet of Korpisalo and Forsberg, I want to spot them play 40-50 games pinch a caller caput coach. Are they still giving up anemic and ill-timed goals?
Why has Talbot sandwiched his mediocre play successful Ottawa pinch superb ones successful Minnesota and Los Angeles? Was that system-based aliases axenic luck?
I get that Ottawa has been submarined by mediocre goaltending this season. The goals supra expected for Forsberg and Korpisalo are amongst nan worst successful nan league. But really could 1 squad person specified a chaotic agelong of bad goaltending for truthful agelong — pinch truthful galore different goalies? I honestly don’t cognize nan answer.
So I want to spot really these goalies execute down nan agelong nether caller coaching. If they still move successful mediocre performances, that will beryllium a mitigating facet for Smith. He tin constituent and say, “See — nan goaltending was conscionable awful.” But if Korpisalo and Forsberg revamp their games and put together coagulated stretches, location will beryllium an statement that goalie struggles successful Ottawa were partially attributed to systems-based issues.
But if this goes connected for different six weeks, I’d for illustration to spot Mads Søgaard get an extended look astatine immoderate point.
Ian, I’m funny to cognize what a emblematic week successful nan life of an Athletic newsman entails. How overmuch clip do you walk penning articles? Doing podcasts? Updating your societal media? How overmuch clip do you walk connected nan road? And really do you propulsion this disconnected while being a bully parent? —Sean P.
Let’s extremity up pinch a nosy and ray mobility from Sean.
Although if I’m being honest, this has not been a nosy and ray week for me. The firing of Smith caused maine to reverse people connected a mates of stories I had planned for this week. I ended up flying to Phoenix — fundamentally astatine nan past infinitesimal — to be Martin and Alfredsson’s debut down nan chair connected Tuesday.
Those are ne'er nosy conversations to bring up pinch your spouse. “Hey, I person to alert to Phoenix successful a fewer hours. You cognize each those plans we had for nan adjacent mates of days? Forget astir them. And person you seen my flip flops anywhere?”
This week was abnormally hectic for me. I wrote six stories successful 5 days — pinch this mailbag being nan sixth one. I hosted 2 podcasts connected Monday and Thursday for “The Athletic Hockey Show.” And past to effort and get immoderate down clip complete nan holidays, we pre-recorded immoderate much podcast episodes, truthful that took a chunk retired of my time connected Thursday.
All this to say, I genuinely emotion this. This ne'er feels for illustration work, moreover erstwhile you person specified a hectic week for illustration this one. I could person travelled to Denver to screen nan Senators game, but I had an important doctor’s gathering to be pinch our girl connected Thursday successful Ottawa. So I made that a privilege and zipped backmost aft that crippled successful Phoenix.
So erstwhile you inquire astir being a bully parent, I deliberation erstwhile you prioritize your family complete everything else, you tin ne'er spell wrong.
Ten years ago, I near a web tv occupation connected Sportsnet to get into AM power successful Ottawa. People thought I was nuts for doing it. But I still guidelines by everything I wrote successful this file explaining my decision for “Today’s Parent” successful 2013.
I emotion my job.
But I emotion my family a batch more.
And arsenic we deed nan vacation season, it’s my dream that each of our readers are fortunate capable to beryllium surrounded by nan group that matter nan astir to them.
(Top photo: Norm Hall / NHLI via Getty Images)