• By: Dave Gross

What’s the Real Story Senators? Maple Leafs?

Another sampling of little ideas that just didn’t quite grow into big ones.

Minor columns that just couldn’t sprout into big ones.

Why not.

Have at it and enjoy your week.



The guys on Sportsnet brought this up this week – not that it’s anything new, but it’s worth revisiting . . . with a twist.

The Ottawa Senators recent run of success: Another case of late-season Trick or Treat or something a bit more substantial? Is it – fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice (or in this instance, three or four times), shame on me?

History dictates that until the organization can prove otherwise, don’t put a whole bunch of stock into this latest of late season runs. Ottawa’s well out of even sniffing at a playoff spot and the club turns on the jets. In other words, we’ve seen this movie before and predicting a monumental full season charge to playoff success in 2024-25 on the heels of this string of wins is foolhardy.

Even the biggest pom-pom wavers are cautiously holding off until proven differently.

Now then.

Down the road a bit there’s another NHL team.

And here’s where my twist comes in and a parallel.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are playing, well, extraordinary hockey down the stretch as the playoffs draw near. Is this a precursor to seldom-seen post-season triumph in the weeks ahead, or as above, is it fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice (or three or four times), shame on me?

So, what’s the real story for both Ontario teams? Talk to us at this time next year.



We saw it in junior with the Sarnia Sting and we saw more evidence at the NHL level with Phoenix/Arizona.

Jakob Chychrun is a very talented hockey player.

But here’s where the rubber hits the road. For some reason – not unlike the dearly departed Alex DeBrincat – Jakob Chychrun looks like a fish out of water in the Ottawa Senators’ lineup.

Oddly enough, as someone brought up on one of the 18-million NHL chat rooms, Chychrun looks like one of the very few Senator players who has not improved under the tutelage of Jacques Martin.

Quite honestly, Chychrun appears disengaged.

Monday night’s game in Washington saw the 25 year old pinch a couple of times, leading to Capital goals. The pinch wasn’t the only problem though, the lack of hustle to get back into position was more problematic.

Statistically Chychrun’s offensive numbers are good – nine goals and 30 points. His plus-minus though of -15 is second worst to the ‘nearing to be’ dearly departed Dominik Kubalik’s -23.

There’s not a chunk of further numbers and analytics here to break this down even further. I’m going with the good, old eye test, and that eye test says Chychrun is off.



If I’m Ottawa, I’m making sure Jacques Martin sticks around another year . . . even if it’s back to being in a consulting role.

Granted it took the 71 year old the better part of two weeks to stop fiddling and fumbling with his lineup cards behind the bench during his initial games back, but his impact lately on developing minds can’t be dismissed.

Brady “blow-the-zone” Tkachuk can toss away that unfortunate nickname for now. Jacques has his captain playing responsible hockey. Ditto for a lot of the Senators younger skaters.

Jacques has taught – in fairly quick fashion – the team the importance of positional hockey and where-you-should-be in any given situation. Most are buying in.

Some pundits have written/said that Ottawa’s most important move, a move that’ll dictate the organization’s direction one way or the other for the next decade, will be the hiring of its next ‘permanent’ head coach, and I don’t disagree. Having Jacques on board as support can’t hurt the process (a word Jacques has  practically adopted as his own).



Back in 2001 and while working at The New RO (now CTV), I ran into Jacques for my first time in the lobby of the (now) Canadian Tire Centre and introduced myself. It was about an hour away from practice, so Jacques had a few minutes.

I’d just arrived from a nine-year ‘paying your dues’ media stint in Owen Sound where one of my many gigs was covering the OHL’s Platers. Jacques had guided that franchise, while in Guelph, to a Memorial Cup win in 1986.

We got to chatting about the Holody’s – the team’s character-laced ownership family – and Jacques’ history there and had a great, friendly talk for about 10 minutes.

That’s the thing about Jacques – when facing a glut of media types he gets pretty reserved. One-on-one though, he’s an engaging guy, and I caught a good glimpse of that way-back-when.

(I shouldn’t mention that Gord Wilson wrecked the entire vibe by bursting in and disrupting our talk to ask a question about Hossa’s ankle or something, so I won’t. Insert smiley-face emoji right about here. Hi Gord.).



Tuesday, Feb. 27: Ottawa at Nashville (8 pm)

Friday, March 1: Arizona at Ottawa (7 pm)

Saturday, March 2: Ottawa at Philadelphia (7 pm)