The Sens season came to an end last night after a 3-1 loss to the Penguins. Losing the game/series wasn't unexpected -- at best, Ottawa was picked to lose in 6 games. But the way in which they lost -- swept, at home, while getting virtually no contributions from the big 3 (who, incidentally, may have played their last game together last night) -- put a nice ribbon on one of the NHL's most spectacular collapses of all time.
I heard a crazy stat that for the last 10-12 years, every Stanley Cup loser from the previous year has had at very least a semi-terrible follow-up season. Isn't it just like the Nation's Capital to not rock the boat and break the streak of something so well established.
Last night also marks the end of several players' Ottawa careers, none more notable then that of Wade Redden. I give Redds a bad wrap, and this season he has deserved it. BUT Redden has meant a lot to the franchise and the city over the last 11 seasons, contributing on the ice and philanthropically, building a large and supportive fan base along the way. Redden had an opportunity to take the easy route out of town and have a fresh start in San Jose (with a 3 yr/ $15.5M extension to boot), but chose to stick with the only squad he has known right to the bitter end. His father was at the game last night to watch his son write the last chapter of his career in Ottawa, and though the loss and early exit from the playoffs may not have been the storyline he expected, the rest of Wade's time in Ottawa leaves memories of hardwork, high skill, and great hockey. Good luck Wade -- I hope a fresh start can re-invigorate your game to the level it should be and once was.
On a side note, it is hard to believe that only three years ago Ottawa had easily the top defensive core in the league, bookended by Redden and Chara, and next season they will both be on different teams with Ottawa receiving nothing in return. Gotta love the salary cap! Jim Hughson (CBC commentator for the game last night) briefly brought up how good Ottawa would be looking today with no cap and Havlat (if his shoulder wasn't injured of course), Chara, and Hasek on the ice. Doubtful we would have kept more than Chara, of course, but it would have been nice to have him over the last two seasons -- I bet he would have had something to say when Emery was getting out of line. Anyways, for you Penguin fans who don't think you may have problems in the future with all your star players, well I have got news for ya. The common response is usually "It will be Staal who leaves." Well, Stall isn't the cap buster on this squad. He will get a nice raise, or receive an offer sheet, but he really isn't the issue. Malone is getting an offer this year. Fleury is getting an offer this year. Even Ruutu will be getting an offer this year. Maybe they will be fine, maybe they won't. My point is the Salary Cap doesn't reward teams for drafting well, it penalizes them by forcing them to sign young players to massive contracts or losing them. Lol -- I am on a tangent here...sorry.
I have started a player review of the roster as it stood entering the playoffs and should have it posted in the next couple of days.