Sports Outside the Beltway

Let the trading begin- Columbus sends Goalie Pascal Leclaire to Ottawa

The NHL trading deadline is four hours away. From CBC Sports-

The Ottawa Senators traded forward Antoine Vermette to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.

In exchange, Ottawa receives goaltender Pascal LeClaire and a second-round pick in the 2009 NHL draft.

Vermette, 26, has nine goals and 19 assists in 62 games this season for the Senators.

He is signed through next season, when he will make $3 million, before he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2010.

Leclaire, 26, has played in 12 games for the Jackets this season, posting a 4-6-1 record with a 3.83 goals against average

Ottawa is essentially out of the playoff hunt for 2008-09. I’m doubtful Leclaire will help fill the goaltending void in Ottawa. He’s just another second stringer, and the Senators have two already in Alex Auld and Martin Gerber. Admittedly Gerber has been sent to the minors and may be destined for Europe. So he could be reasonably considered out of the picture. Still the move puzzles me.


Ottawa Senators’ Daniel Alfredsson out with a fractured jaw

With 52 points for the season, Alfredsson is the Senators’ leading scorer. From AP-

The Ottawa Senators will be without Daniel Alfredsson for at least a week after their captain fractured his jaw during the team’s 3-2 overtime loss Tuesday night in Colorado.

The 36-year-old Swede was struck in the face by a puck and left the game for X-rays, but returned to finish the third period and overtime.

Alfredsson didn’t require surgery, but will miss Thursday’s home game against Vancouver.


“We’ll probably look at it again next week and see where it is and go from there.”

Hockey is a rough sport but the people who play it are resoundingly tough. I wouldn’t be back from a fractured jaw in just a week’s time.

The injury comes at a bad time for a team that still has hopes of making the playoffs.

Yes a team can still hope but Ottawa needs a miracle to make the playoffs. They are at present in 11th place in the Eastern conference and 13 points behind the four teams tied for 5th to 8th place. 8th place is the final playoff spot.


Ottawa Senators demote Goalie Martin Gerber

When you are demoted to the minors at age 34, I think it is safe to say your NHL career has reached a crisis stage. From AP-

Goaltender Martin Gerber was assigned by the Ottawa Senators to Binghamton of the AHL on Tuesday.

Gerber went unclaimed when he was placed on waivers on Thursday after being sent to the minors on a conditioning stint Jan. 15.

General manager Bryan Murray said this week that one team had shown interest, but that if no deal was made by Tuesday, Gerber would be assigned to the AHL club.

That deadline passed and Gerber was sent down.

The Senators can still call him up if either Alex Auld or Brian Elliot struggles or is injured.

Gerber is earning $3.7 million — with more than $1 million remaining to be paid this season — in the final year of a three-year free-agent deal signed in 2006.

The Swiss goaltender who joined the club after helping Carolina win a Stanley Cup in 2006 was edged out by Ray Emery as the Senators starter in the 2006-07 season.

The 34-year-old Gerber is 4-9-1 this season with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage in 14 games.

Gerber has been a decent backup Goalie but that’s about all. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s playing somewhere in Europe(like former Senator Goalie Ray Emery) during the 2009-10 NHL season.


Florida Panthers and the Eastern NHL Conference at the half way mark

The Florida Panthers played their 41st game of the NHL season last night. A 4-2 win over division rival Carolina Panthers. Before I make some comments, here are the standings

1 Boston Bruins Games played- 41 Record- 30-7-4 Points- 64
2 Washington Capitals 41, 27-11-3, 57
3 Philadelphia Flyers 41, 22-10-9, 53
4 Montréal Canadiens 40, 24-10-6, 54
5 New York Rangers 42, 24-15-3, 51
6 New Jersey Devils 40, 23-14-3, 49
7 Carolina Hurricanes 42, 21-16-5, 47
8 Buffalo Sabres 40, 20-15-5, 45
9 Florida Panthers 41, 19-16-6, 44
10 Pittsburgh Penguins 42, 20-18-4, 44
11 Toronto Maple Leafs 41, 16-19-6, 38
12 Atlanta Thrashers 42, 14-23-5, 33
13 Ottawa Senators 39, 13-20-6, 32
14 Tampa Bay Lightning 40, 11-19-10, 32
15 New York Islanders 42, 12-26-4, 28

First I can safely conclude the NY Islanders, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, and Atlanta are out of the playoff picture. Toronto faces a uphill battle, but I won’t count them out yet.

Look where Pittsburgh is only one year after making the Stanley Cup finals. What is going on up there? They recently had a five-game losing streak at home.

They aren’t the only recent memory Stanley Cup final team fallen on hard times. Ottawa who made it in the 06-07 looks to be re-building. How did anyone in Senator management think Alex Doug Auld and Martin Gerber were playoff quality goalies?

Tampa Bay has gotten out of the cellar. Two wins against Florida in late December helped. Will Rick Tocchet still be coaching next season?

Florida has its best record at the half way since the 1999-2000 season, or the last time they went to the playoffs. I had high hopes for Florida last year only to see them dashed. Could they make it this year?

Definitely. The teams immediately ahead of them are beatable. If Florida sneaks in as the 7th or 8th seed, they are most likely to get buzz sawed by Boston or Montreal.(Though Florida does have a good record against Goalie Tim Thomas and are the only NHL team with a lifetime winning record against the Canadians. )

Some miscellaneous Florida notes-

Their defensemen have scored more goals than any other team in the Eastern Conference

Florida has gained at least 1 pt in every game Gregory Campbell has scored in.

Yesterday’s game marked just the 3rd time ever Florida went without a penalty in a game.

Tomas Vokoun now has 201 career wins as a goalie.

Florida has a very good goalie at Rochester that the name eludes me. Would Florida consider a deal for Craig Anderson and bring up the rookie before the season ends? Anderson is a free agent at the end of the year and not expected to be back.

Florida signed a multi-year agreement with Fox Sports Florida which as a result have more Panther games on television.(I got NHL Center Ice too, so I rarely miss a game unless there is no television at all) That’s good news. Now I would like FSN to stop showing upcoming programming promos while play is happening on ice. Those idiotic spinning pucks fill 1/8th of the television screen and often interfere with watching play. Every time I see this crap I feel like screaming at the television.


Ottawa Senator Jarkko Ruutu suspended two games for bite

It is not known if his victim will need a rabies shot. From AP-

The NHL acted swiftly after what happened in the first period of Buffalo’s 4-2 home win. Peters started the skirmish by shoving the palm of his glove into Ruutu’s face and pushing him into the boards at the Senators’ bench.

Ruutu responded by chomping down on Peters’ glove, catching his teeth on the player’s thumb, which is not padded. The force of Ruutu’s bite broke the skin and drew blood on the Peters’ right thumb. As Peters pulled away in pain, his glove was ripped off by Ruutu’s bite.

Peters was penalized for sparking the skirmish. Ruutu was not penalized.

Biting isn’t some kind of penalty? Only in the NHL.

Here’s the video of the incident

To be honest two games is a slap on the wrist, even with the lost salary. Suspend him for a couple of months. This behavior doesn’t belong in pro sports.


Florida Panthers re-sign Jassen Cullimore

Only 8 games into the 2008-09 NHL season and the Cats are already banged up at defenseman. From the Palm Beach Post-

CORAL SPRINGS — The Florida Panthers will turn to a familiar face to help get through its series of early-season injuries on defense.

General Manager Jacques Martin announced the signing of defenseman Jassen Cullimore on Tuesday. The 6-foot-5, 244-pound veteran played for the Panthers last season and was in training camp this year.

“I think he probably doesn’t need any transition time,” Martin said. “He’s familiar with our system. He was here in training camp, so he’s probably a good fit.”

Cullimore will replace defenseman Bryan Allen, who Martin said underwent successful knee surgery.

In 65 games last year, Cullimore tallied just 13 points, but his plus-21 ratio led the Panthers.

“He played real well here last year,” Panthers’ coach Peter DeBoer said. “He’s capable of playing in a shutdown role.”

Immigration issues in Canada may keep Cullimore from joining the Panthers before Thursday’s game against Ottawa. DeBoer had forward Wade Belak work with the defense on Tuesday to add some depth.

Martin also said that injured defenseman Cory Murphy will likely miss at least one month, but his injured shoulder will not need surgery.

Cullimore won’t be playing tonight against Ottawa. Cory Murphy is out for a month, Bryan Allen out indefinitely and Bryan McCabe isn’t ready to play after hurting his back. Wade Belak is going to play defense. Belak can fight and intimiidate but passing and shooting are beyond him.

I don’t think much of Cullimore, and neither does most of the NHL apparently. He couldn’t find work after not making the Panthers at the end of camp. On the other hand 38-year-old Bret Hedican(husband to Kristi Yamaguchi) got work again with Anaheim. What’s wrong with this picture?

Former Panther Alex Auld will be in goal tonight. Florida will also be without Center Stephen Weiss who is hurt too. Why then is Shawn Matthias still at Rochester then? I got the answer- The Florida Panthers management is hopeless.

Update- Florida called up Matthias. He is in uniform tonight.


Goalie Craig Anderson and Florida Panthers shut down Ottawa 3-1

The cats keep alternating wins and losses so far in the 2008-09 NHL season. From AP-

OTTAWA – Rostislav Olesz and Nathan Horton scored goals 48 seconds apart early in the first period and the Florida Panthers beat the Ottawa Senators 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Cory Stillman assisted on Horton’s goal that made it 2-0 in the first, then scored his third of the season midway through the second to restore Florida’s two-goal lead.

Craig Anderson made 41 saves in his first start of the season. The backup goalie dove to his left to make a glove save on Antoine Vermette’s shot as Ottawa enjoyed a power-play for the final 3:05 of the third after David Booth was assessed a double minor for high-sticking.

Florida, coming off a 3-1 loss in Montreal on Monday night, has alternated losses and wins in getting off to a 3-3 start.

Anderson had a great night against a team that scores plenty of goals. He was 8-2 in his last 10 starts of last season, including back to back shutouts. Yes I’ve said this before but it bears repeating.

Why do Florida coaches have so little confidence in Anderson? Two years ago then coach Jacques Martin started 41-year-old Eddie Belfour over 20 games straight rather than give Anderson even one game in net. Anderson spent large amounts of last season on the bench also. Tomas Vokoun is a great goalie, but he needs rest from time to time. Florida should use Anderson more often or shop him around. Based on his play since last year, some NHL may want the Chicago native. Ottawa could do worse, right now they have journeymen Martin Gerber and former Panther Alex Auld splitting goalie duties.


Ottawa Senators select Craig Hartsburg as new coach

The second of two head NHL coaching vacancies has been filled.

Craig Hartsburg is the new coach of the Ottawa Senators, the third time he has led an NHL team.

Hartsburg takes over from Senators general manager Bryan Murray, who finished the season behind the Ottawa bench after coach John Paddock was fired in late February.

Hartsburg also has coached in Anaheim and Chicago, and was an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Flyers from 2002 to 2004. The 48-year-old Hartsburg has been coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the past five seasons.

Ottawa was, either the worst or second to worst(Only to the Florida Panthers*) underacheiving team in the NHL last year. The Senators are talented, but face troubles also. One of which is their goaltending situation.

Is Hartsburg going to help Ottawa? He has a lifetime sub .500 record, and hasn’t coached in the NHL for nearly a decade. To me the hiring looks questionable, especially with their being a large pool of experienced NHL head coaches available at the moment (John Tortorella, Pat Quinn, Marc Crawford to just name three).

*- Talking about the Panthers. When will GM(and former Head Coach) Jacques Martin get off his butt and hire his replacement? Martin is still doing interviews two months after being relieved of his head coaching responsibilities.


Goalie Dominik Hasek retires after 16 seasons

No question, ‘The Dominator’ was a great goalie(but if given a choice, I’d take Martin Brodeur) and is destined for the Hall of Fame. This after Hasek had to wait seven years after his being selected in the NHL Draft before being able to play in the NHL. That mostly due to the fact he was born in Czechoslovakia which was still behind the Iron Curtain.

That’s in the past for Hasek, who is 43 years old now. Good luck in retirement Dominator.


Ottawa Senators fire coach John Paddock

This comes with less than 20 games left in the NHL season.

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators, looking sluggish in a recent, lengthy slump, on Wednesday fired coach John Paddock.

General manager Bryan Murray will take over coaching duties for the last 18 games of the regular season. Murray was coach when the Senators advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in 2006-07, but stepped aside to become GM during the summer, and Paddock was given the job as coach.

The Senators lead the Northeast Division by a point over the Montreal Canadiens, but have been shut out in their past two games. Ottawa has lost six of its past eight games and 14 of its last 21.

Murray’s first game in his return behind the bench will be Thursday against the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Murray has been almost as well traveled as Mike Keenan. With stops in Anaheim, Detroit, Washington, and Florida. The Senators have been a disappointment after a fast start to the 07-08 season. I still feel the talent is there for Ottawa to win the conference. A resurgent Pittsburgh Penguins look like the Senator’s biggest obstacle, that is other than themselves.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.