Memorial Archives

Murray's Tap Dancing Not Welcome Noise
posted Mar 28, 2006 at 03:05AM

I have stated clearly that only one man stands in the way of the Senator's winning the Stanley Cup and that is the coach Brian Murray. Since Nov 30 I have all but lost faith in his ability to recognize, and organize the talent at his disposal.

The mainstream media have finally begun to realize that something is amiss and have begun to question Murray about his decision to strand Vermette on the fourth line. His response goes like this, "when we moved him up he tried to do too much"...Duh..well of course Vermette tried to do too much. He knew very well that if he didn't score right away, Murray would use it as justification to send him back to purgatory. Indeed despite immediate stellar play, and a key goal when playing with Smolinski and Arnason, he was never reunited. Despite instant chemistry with Fisher he only kept them together for one period. Despite obvious chemistry with Eaves, he has kept them apart for most of the season. As soon as the line of Vermette, Smolinski and Heatley started playing well, he ripped them apart.

Compare that to Varada who has been an albatross around the neck of every line he gets put on. He is a complete offensive liability and yet has spent the majority of the season on the second and third lines. The blunt truth is that Varada, without Hossa to cover for him, is about as useful as a fire hydrant.

Compare as well, to Chris Neil who has not scored an even strength goal in 30 games. You don't hear any mumblings about moving Neil to the fourth line. Can you imagine if Vermette had spent the season with Schaeffer and Fisher?

I have stated that with the return of Havlat and Fisher it would be nearly impossible for Murray to screw things up, but that he would try and find a way. In today's Ottawa Sun, Don Brennan writes,

Hopefully, there will be nothing further and it balances out," added Murray, who will be faced with some tough ice time decisions when everyone returns. "We're going to have to have a lottery to see who comes out."

What does he mean by "tough decisions"? What does he mean about having a "lottery"? Is he going to have players draw straws??!.

There are no tough decisions here. This is a no brainer. Fisher and Havlat comes in. McGrattan and Varada are out.

I mean what? Is he going to scratch Vermette, a 20 goal scorer, a league leader in short handed goals, and in the top five in the league in face-off win percentages? Is he going to scratch Eaves, a 15 goal scorer who would probably have closer to 30, if put in the right circumstances? Is he going to scratch Kelly, a crtical cog on our PK, and is currently playing so well with Vermette? Is he going to scratch Neil, who unlike Varada actually does throw his weight around and contributes postively if not in pure goal scoring largesse?

You would think that such notions would be ridiculous, but then one has to remember that Jacques Martin scratched Spezza even though he was one of our top point getters, had one of our best +/- ratings, and was a proven gamer in past play off games.

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