• By: Dave Gross

Senators not alone on the Isle of Stink

I always kind of wondered what it would be like to live full-time in Phoenix.

You know, the warm days throughout the year, world-class golf courses, thin, clean air, superb dining, the constant hum of air conditioners and a perpetually bad hockey team.

Well now I know.

We’ve got all that right here in Ottawa – barring the warmth, dining, lean air and unbroken purr of ventilators (except for two weeks each summer).

But the bad hockey team?

Hell, we’ve got that. In spades.

That’s not saying anything new. Ottawa’s been bad as bad can be for too long to remember. This past road swing though . . . boy that was hitting rock bottom.

But now folks, Ottawa has company. Loads of company, and oddly enough it’s emanating from our very familiar Canadian corners.

If you think the stink lies solely along the Ottawa River, check the Saint Lawrence to the east and near-English Bay to the west. Montreal and Vancouver are going through the same kind of hell that’s lately been focused solely on the nation’s capital.

And to be perfectly frank, that stink in other regions might be lessening the odour around these parts. (Kind of like when our current PM had the luxury of having Donald J. to take the media/public heat off his back).

Because let’s face it, the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks were expected to be doing a whole lot better on the ice, and off of it. Vancouver, especially, with its’ young core, speed and skill was expected to soar. Somehow the Canucks have stumbled mightily. Now the coach and general manager are tip-toeing across extremely thin ice.

Montreal, meanwhile, was coming in off a trip to the Stanley Cup final. More was expected this season. This past weekend the reality of just how dreadful the Habs have become signalled a clearing out of the entire hockey operations team.

It’s a completely different picture with three of our other clubs (we’ll leave Winnipeg Jets completely out of this because nobody seems to know what the hell they actually are or will be).

Toronto started slowly but have picked up a torrid pace. In the month of November, the Buds are 12-2 . . . but cue up the ‘wait ‘till the post-season’ chatter. Yeah, we get it. Still, Toronto’s been fantastic.

Ditto for the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers who are neck-and-neck for tops in the Pacific Division. Now I can’t figure out who is a scarier opponent – the team that averages less than two goals against per game, or the other guys who sport the two most dangerous offensive talents in the entire league (with all due respect to Alex Ovechkin). 

The Flames have revamped their image, and that’s pretty damn good considering this was a foundering franchise that had zero identity up until the day Darryl Sutter arrived to take over behind the bench.

The Oilers have seemingly grown up. Connor McDavid is no longer the Boy Wonder, he’s the Man Wonder; Leon Draisaitl is just dazzling and sports the best shot in hockey (sorry there, Ovie). And with the insertion of Zach Hyman into the lineup, he might turn out to be the best addition by any team this past off-season.   

East to west, the Canadian stories in the National Hockey League are being written quite convincingly. The good news among the bad news for Ottawa? Clearly you are not alone.

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: An absolute definition of the word defeated was etched in stone on coach DJ Smith’s face following the loss to the LA Kings . . . The Endless-Pit-of-a-Chasm Bowl comes to town Wednesday when the Vancouver Canucks visit the Ottawa Senators . . . Part II won’t be coming the next night in Carolina. The ‘Canes are very tough this season and quietly have become one of the NHL’s best . . . The Senators lose in LA Saturday night to make it five straight losses and all Ottawa Fan wants to talk about is a bite during a meaningless scrap . . . Still, Brady Tkachuk landed quote-of-the-week honours with this summation of biter Brendan Lemieux: “I don't even know what he was thinking, he's just a complete brick head."


Wednesday, Dec. 1: Vancouver at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Thursday, Dec. 2: Ottawa at Carolina (7 pm)

Saturday, Dec. 4: Colorado at Ottawa (7 pm)

Photo: Courtesy NHL.com