• By: Dave Gross

Senators: time for a change

Jacques Martin.

That’s right.

Jacques freakin’ Martin.

Ask yourself this – as far along as Ottawa Senators current head coach D.J. Smith has taken this relatively young troupe, which isn’t very far to be honest, isn’t it time to push this process along?

There is no question Smith has some very talented youthful skaters at his disposal. Their growth though is not heading in the right direction. By that I mean building proper structure and systems to take up permanent residence in the players’ minds.

The defensive play all around, from the blueliners to the forwards, is in complete shambles.

But there is a remedy and that’s where the former Senators’ coach come in.

That’s because he’s done it before and done it with aplomb.                                                                                      

When Martin took over the Senators halfway through the 1995–96 season, the team sported a dismal record of 8–35–1. The next season Martin coached the organization to its first-ever post-season placing.

Jacques’ greatest disappointment was in not getting the team over the hump (read: playoffs, and the Toronto Maple Leafs). It’s a fair comment but let’s toss in some perspective here folks because right now Ottawa isn’t remotely close to the hump.

There is a striking resemblance between Ottawa 25 years ago and now. Both teams carried a number of high-calibre prospects and star potential. Back then their names were Alfredsson and Yashin and Bonk and Redden. Now their names are Tkachuk and Chabot and Norris and Stutzle.

You can argue that the workforce back then, particularly on the blueline, was a touch stronger and more tuned in. No argument here. The point being that when the Sandersons and Thomsons and Bernard-Dockers and perhaps Klevins do step in full-time, they’ll need a disciplined guiding light. To me there’s few better at developing young minds than Jacques.

Then again, maybe he’s not interested in the gig at the age of 69. Worth asking though.

Here’s the question for you. Are you comfortable with the present regime leading Ottawa to a higher level of compete?

It was three years ago that Ottawa’s owner more or less claimed that the rebuild would last for a year or two, then it was going to be a five-year run of unparalleled success.

We’re not even close to success three years later, unparalleled, paralleled or other. 

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: Well in the lead in the annual Formenton-Breakaway-Shoots-Misses Award is Connor Brown. Safe bet in a shootout, I’m not calling out Brown’s name . . . Can’t fault his effort/smarts though. Ottawa has its share of dullards regarding hockey-sense. Brown’s not one of them . . . Is it safe to say that Nick Schmaltz had the quietest seven-point game in history Saturday afternoon for Arizona? . . . For a guy who’s such a hot commodity on the trade front, the ‘Yotes Jakob Chychrun didn’t catch my eye at all in Arizona’s 8-5 rip of Ottawa. In fact, the former Sarnia Sting standout was an ugly -3 . . . Jakob’s dad Jeff was a personal favourite of this corner in his days in Philly. In a word – tough . . . That call on Thomas Chabot that handed Vegas a power-play late Sunday was a softie. But griping about officiating is useless energy. Dial in some Lao Tzu you troubled souls . . . Who could have said a month ago a Vancouver-Montreal tilt would feature two of the hottest teams in hockey? This Wednesday though, that’ll be the case . . . Speaking on tilts, give me more Calgary-Colorado. The two heavyweights slugged it out Saturday in a terrific one. Good news? The Flames and Avs play two more times this month . . . Remember good folks who were writing off Johnny Gaudreau last season? Put your pens away . . . Meanwhile in Toronto it’s another yearly episode of Days of our Lives. If the Leafs can only find solid goaltending, grit and a superb defenceman in the next month they’ll be a Cup contender. Rainbows and unicorns people. Rainbows and unicorns . . . The LA Kings are in a playoff spot. Who knew? . . . Really enjoyed Amazon’s Mr. Mercedes. Brendan Gleeson is the best. Not for the faint of heart though . . . Posting your Wordle score on social media is kind of like going on the radio and yammering about your fantasy NFL or NHL team. Not a lot truly care. (For transparency’s sake, yep, I was that guy on the radio. Glass houses and all, y’all.)


Tuesday, March 8: Ottawa at St. Louis (8 pm)

Thursday, March 10: Seattle at Ottawa (7 pm)

Saturday, March 12: Chicago at Ottawa (7 pm)

Photo: Courtesy SilverSevens.com