Get used to it. These the 2010-2011 Senators, up until the trade deadline.
Forget a blockbuster trade to save the season. Save your breath. It’s not going to happen, and if it did happen, it would be for appearances. Since the puck dropped on this season, there have been two trades (Ian White/Brett Sutter for Anton Babchuk/Tom Kostopoulos and Scott Hannan for Tomas Fleischmann) that involved active NHL players for other active NHL players. All teams in contention are saving up cap space for the trade deadline. Teams with cap room aren’t going to do anyone else any favors and eliminate a competitive advantage. This, in tech circles, is called “selling through adversity”, when you know you’re selling mediocre product, there’s not much you can do about it, but you’ve got to do it anyways until the good product is ready. Every executive involved with a differentiating product has been through this, whether you’re selling sprockets or season tickets. Experienced buyers know this. This is why some companies and some buyers have relationships more like marriages, they stick through each other through thick and thin.
The Ottawa Senators are selling Mac OS 8, Windows 3.0, current Chrysler or Saab. You put lipstick on the pig and go. There is fuck all else you can do and you know it. As an experienced fan, I know it. I don’t like it, but like a marriage sometimes there are hard times. Sometimes the hard times last years.
People will complain that they should have gone to a rebuild earlier. Well, they couldn’t, because the new product was still too far away. Consider a free agent signing or a trade the equivalent of an acquisition. Companies that are selling through adversity but building for the future both acquire for today (to sell tickets and cover urgent tactical holes) while also making strategic buys. From an outsider’s perspective it looks like the tactical outweighs the strategic, but that’s not the case. With strategic, you have time, with tactical you have none. Sergei Gonchar is tactical. His three year contract is a signal: it means that Senators management are willing to wait at least two further seasons for the strategic to develop, and the strategic will be slow as molasses.
Who is strategic?
Petr Regin. Benching him is strategic. It’s patient. It indicates that they are going to give him every chance, like they gave Brian Lee. Brian Lee didn’t work out. Them’s the breaks.
Erik Karlsson. Benching him was strategic. If you’ve noticed, his play has improved significantly since he was benched. Benching means watch and learn. He did. Hopefully so will Petr.
Robin Lehner. He’s welcome in the juniors only if he starts. In other words, he’s getting ice time, wherever he plays.
Here are the bets:
Of these, only Rundblad and Wiercioch look like safe bets. Doesn’t matter. You still make the bets because the cost is worth it. Daniel Alfredson was drafted 133rd overall.
This is a long game, measured in years. Get used to it.