Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison delivers his insights into the world of hockey, on and off the ice.
Ottawa & Calgary: too early to fret?
Thursday, October 12, 2006 | 08:00 PM ET
By Scott Morrison
What a difference a week makes.
Think about it: A week ago, when the NHL was starting its new season, the idea of Ottawa and Calgary meeting in October surely inspired visions of a similar showdown in late June, with champagne on ice and the Stanley Cup nearby.
That may still happen, of course (we did, after all, predict the Flames would win it all and that Ottawa would be in the hunt), but let's just say it has definitely been looking like the faith has been wavering in certain parts of the country this past week because neither the Senators nor the Flames had gotten off to particularly impressive starts.
Heck, two games into the season in Ottawa and the owner gave an impromptu press conference and vote of confidence for his management team. Three games in and the number one line is dismantled and the three best players - Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson - are put together on the top unit. And then there is the matter of the second-string goaltender given the start in a fairly significant game against the Flames.
But that's what happens when expectations are great, you start 1-2 and look ordinary more often than you look good. Especially, in the case of the Senators, when it is contrasted against an impressive 3-0 start last year when the power play was magic and the goals were aplenty. Even coach Bryan Murray has already declared that the Senators won't win games the way they once did, that they will have to win the low-scoring battles.
The Flames, meantime, have had a stressful start themselves, going 1-2 in their first three games, though that is no different than a year ago. Aggravating the issue, though, is the presence of a rookie coach looking to make his mark and the recurrence of goal-scoring problems that crippled the cause a year ago. The Flames have already been whipped in practice and broken up their top line. There have been fears and whispers that nothing will be fixed until they bring in a front-line centre.
Now, there is plenty reason for concern and certainly displeasure with the start in both cities. That is the reward for being a fan. Or a paid critic. And while there is no time like the present to start to worry, it just might be a wee bit early to start fretting too much about either of these two teams. They both have issues that need addressing, but first they need to be allowed to work through them.
In both cases, the key word is probably work.
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About the Author
Scott Morrison, the recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fameís 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, has been covering hockey for 25 years. The Toronto native began his career at the Toronto Sun in 1979. After spending more than 11 years as a hockey writer and columnist at the paper, Morrison became Sports Editor in 1991 and led the section to being named one of North America's top-ten sports sections in 1999 - the first sports section in Canada to receive the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott, a former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, joined Rogers Sportsnet in 2001 as Managing Editor, Hockey, and is currently both a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada and a columnist for CBC.ca.
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