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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bob McKenzie - TSN.ca
11/15/2006 10:51:46 PM


There is a simple equation - a universal truth if you will, especially for a Canadian NHL franchise - that if you lose a lot, like seven of eight games, questions are going to be asked.

Hard questions.

Like, is someone going to be fired? No, make that is everyone is going to be fired?

And so it was with the Ottawa Senators as they headed into Wednesday night's game in Buffalo against the Sabres. After losing seven of eight games, and generally falling well below of expectations for this season, speculation was rampant that jobs were on the line.

No one was immune from the rumours. Not team president Roy Mlakar or general manager John Muckler or head coach Bryan Murray. Or, for that matter, the players, many of whom have been subject of trade rumours as people wondered how the Sens might emerge from their season-long funk.

Now, no one suggested for a moment that owner Eugene Melnyk had decided anyone's fate. Not even close.

But what was clear was that Melnyk's lieutenants - guys like Toronto lawyer Sheldon Plener or trusted associate Darryl Boyce - are on a heightened sense of awareness of what's going with Melnyk's hockey team. And why wouldn't they be?

Plener was in attendance at Buffalo, when the Senators scored an impressive and gritty come-from-behind 4-2 win over the Sabres, but his presence could be rationalized that he and other Sens' executives have business with the NHL in New York City. And that's accurate.

That said, sources have also told TSN that Melnyk's people are getting input from other people in the NHL community on options if the Sens' slide into the abyss continues.

That should come as no surprise. No owner worth his salt would ever just sit on his hands and let the losses mount without doing some of the leg work should a change become necessary. And it's not like there isn't a pool of qualified talent sitting on the sidelines waiting for phone calls. In pro sports, one man's misery is another man's employment opportunity.

But if the Senators can string together a few more wins like the one over Buffalo, the speculation on job security evaporates.

The win over Buffalo was just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Sens.

Netminder Ray Emery, coming off a wrist injury, made the saves he needed to make to keep Ottawa in the game. His effort was a stark contrast to the lack of confidence recently displayed by Sens' goalie Martin Gerber.

The much-maligned Sens' power play stepped up when Jason Spezza scored to make it 2-2 in the third period.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
McKenzie: Melnyk's reps in assessment phase

Bob McKenzie
11/15/2006 9:41:59 PM


The Ottawa Senators' dismal record of late is reason enough to speculate on the future of everybody from President Roy Mlakar to General Manager John Muckler to Head Coach Bryan Murray.

But the fact that team owner Eugene Melnyk's most trusted advisors, led by Toronto lawyer Sheldon Plener, are in Buffalo with the team is bound to fuel even more speculation.

Hey, for all we know, Plener goes to a lot of Senators' road games, but anyone who thinks he is in Buffalo for chicken wings should think again.

Sources tell TSN that Melnyk's lieutenants are in the "assessment" phase, seeing first hand what is wrong with the Senators' organization and how the principals there plan to get things turned around. But sources also suggest Melnyk's reps are prepared to now take the next step and immediately begin canvassing outside opinions from other "hockey people" on what they would do to fix the Senators.

And with executives and coaches like Bob Nicholson, Pat Quinn, Mike Keenan and Ken Hitchcock, amongst others, in a prospective talent pool, there is every reason to believe the speculation about the future of Mlakar, Muckler and Murray will only increase, unless the Senators reel off a nice long winning streak. Plener's law firm bio, by the way, notes he has represented Pat Quinn in the past, for whatever that may be worth.

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