by the Bonk's Mullet Staff
Chet Sellers: I'm calling our first roundtable to order. Your Ottawa Senators will be in Detroit to play the Red Wings tonight, and many people are telling us that this game is a Big Deal. Is it really? I'd like to start this discussion by putting forward the following three, semi-contradictory propositions that I believe to be true:
- The Senators are a better team with Clarke MacArthur than Daniel Alfredsson.
- At least once this season, you've watched the Senators bungle something - a miscommunication on the power play, a botched zone exit, a lost puck battle in a corner - and said to yourself, "Alfredsson would have had that."
- Tonight's game is not a Big Deal, because it's mostly about how professional hockey players handle it, and professionals are used to dealing with players switching teams. The December 1 game in Ottawa, however, is a Big Deal, because it's about how WE handle it.
1. "The Senators are a better team with Clarke MacArthur than Daniel Alfredsson."
Luke Peristy: Well... what is better, exactly?
The great thing about Alfie was his versatility. Need a guy to rip one-timers from the left circle? Throw out Alfie. Need a stabilizing presence on the penalty kill? Alfie's got you covered! Need a big goal in crunch time? Alfie! Alfie! Alfie! Need some kids to pump up the crowd before a playoff game? Well, Alfie's got four kids and they can skate around the rink with flags like nobody's business.
|Hey Dad, I know it's a bad time but I need $20. Dad?|
Now, what about MacArthur? Well, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but Clarke MacArthur is leading the league in relative Corsi at the moment, so there's no doubt he's exceeding expectations in the role he's been given (i.e., to make sweet, sweet possession music with Kyle Turris and make Ottawa's top two lines as annoying a matchup as possible). That said, it's also clear that MacArthur is not being expected to do everything Daniel Alfredsson did in Ottawa.
Any direct comparison of MacArthur to Alfredsson only illuminates the factors that made Alfie so damn useful in the first place. Once Clarke gets over his apparent inability to sire Scotiabank skaters and starts spending less time in the box, I'll be willing to say that Clarke MacArthur at $3.25M/yr is a better value than Daniel Alfredsson at $5.5M/yr. Will the Ottawa Senators be a better team at that point? If they are, it will be because everyone on the team adapted to fill vacant roles, and not simply because Clarke MacArthur is better at hockey than Daniel Alfredsson.
Bonk's Mullet: I'm going to offer a food analogy. Everyone, including Denis Potvin, knows that Alfie was a frequent bringer of cheese. Alfie's shot was a sharp cheddar, his hands were soft Gouda, his post-game interviews were a tangy blue cheese, and his hair was an accompanying full-bodied red wine. The great thing about cheese is that it's extremely versatile. It can be the centrepiece of a meal, or it can be a peripheral accent. Everyone will always love cheese, except for the lactose-intolerant (Leafs fans in this analogy).
But sometimes, tariffs on cheese are a little too high and the price gets jacked up. You suddenly realized that although cheese has never failed you, it might be time to try another ingredient. Enter sriracha. While rejected by your less adventurous, meat and potatoes-loving friend (like Randy Carlyle), the objective contribution to your taste buds is undeniable. While sriracha won't work on every meal (debatable), it might give your team that extra punch it was missing. What I'm trying to say is that I'm hungry.
|This analogy works well because Clarke MacArthur is so spicy.|
Kevin Lee: Continuing with this cheesy theme, Alfredsson is like an expiring block of limburger. It tastes great now, but give it some time and it will soon be moldy and rotten. MacArthur, on the other hand, is a cheesewheel still improving with age. Alfredsson would have likely made a bigger impact than MacArthur this season, but what about going forward? At 28, MacArthur is in his prime years. He's able to play both the power play and penalty kill. If he keeps up his current play, it wouldn't be surprising to see him get another contract. Given one or the other, MacArthur makes the Sens a better team in the long run. But why does it have to be one or the other? Why Cheddar or Mozzarella? Why Alfredsson or MacArthur? Why a casino or the Canadian Tire Centre?
Chet Sellers: This cheese analogy really has some legs, much like the extra-aged port we all like to pour with our Roquefort before watching vintage-era Alfredsson highlights on Youtube at 2 AM - oh, is that just me? Sorry for partying, I guess. But still, Erik Karlsson? Delicious jarlsberg. Jason Spezza? Silky feta. Jared Cowen? Smelly stilton. Joe Corvo? Crumbly queso. And don't get me started on Mr. Danish Blue himself, Peter Regin *police break in and arrest me*.
The cheese-sriracha comparison is also a good one, owing to what economists like to call "opportunity cost". It would be great to have both Clarke Macarthur and Daniel Alfredsson on the same team, just like it would be great to be able to hand out appetizers of sharp cheddar cheese and a splash of rooster sauce on a buttery Ritz cracker at your next party. But we have to be realistic here - when you're on a budget, having both cheese and sriracha is an unnecessary extravagance, and we all know that most Sens fans will never throw anything that could legally be called a "party".
So forced to choose before your next soirée, would you rather buy really, really old fine cheese, or a bottle of hot sauce and use the leftover money on a case of American beer? The question is what kind of party you want to throw, and pro tip, when I throw a party, I try to score as much as possible.
|Taken at the last Bonk's Mullet staff party. It ripped, dude.|
2. "Alfredsson would have had that."
Luke Peristy: At no point while watching a game this season have I pined for Daniel Alfredsson. It's clear that there's something lacking from Ottawa's execution so far, but I doubt Alfie's presence is the magical elixir that holds the key to Jared Cowen finally making a decent outlet pass.
Bonk's Mullet: But that young gunslinger Chris Phillips sure looks good as our power play quarterback!
Before Alfie left, in the same way we think, "Damn. Pre-Cooke Karlsson would have triple spin-o-rama'd that," I frequently found myself thinking, "2007 Alfie would have had that." I haven't missed 2013 Alfie's game on the roster.
Luke Peristy: That said, yesterday I stumbled onto Alfie's game log (much in the same way one might "stumble" onto an ex-girlfriend's Facebook page), and was totally unprepared to see 9 points in 10 games, including a great run of 8 points in 4 games last week.
Bonk's Mullet: Find me a player who can't produce with Datsyuk and Zetterberg and I'll get him to autograph his number 28 Sens jersey for you.
|He took the midnight train going home to his new comfortable living situation in the suburbs.|
3. Tonight's game is not a "Big Deal."
Luke Peristy: Is tonight a Big Deal outside of the context of Ottawa trying to take 2 points from a tough divisional rival? Sort of, but not really. All those news articles you might have read certainly say things to that effect.
Bonk's Mullet: I think Wednesday's game is a Big Deal. Although you can argue the ship jumping was probably about money, Alfie said he joined Detroit because he thought they had a better shot at winning. I can't imagine that went over well in the Ottawa dressing room. Now you're facing Detroit on national television and your former captain, who claims to have left because he wanted to win, is sitting on the opposite bench. If that doesn't fire the team up to win, I don't know what will.
Kevin Lee: Going to have to disagree with you Mullet. For the players themselves, I think tonight's game will likely be like any other. They're professionals and they'll go through their usual routine. We might see some of the Sens greet Alfredsson during warmups, but once the game begins, all personal feelings are tossed aside.
As a fan, tonight's game is definitely a Big Deal. It hurt seeing Alfredsson go, and I want the Sens to show him he made the wrong choice. I want the Sens to dominate. I want to shut the Red Wings out, and I want Alfie on the ice for every goal against. It's essentially our pride at stake
Chet Sellers: Look, Daniel Alfredsson is the greatest Ottawa Senator ever, and he will probably be the greatest Ottawa Senator ever forever, even after they move to Markham, or Barbados, or Moon Colony V, because the idea of anyone playing 17 years with the same team in today's NHL is ridiculous. But the question we have to ask is, what is he today? And the answer is he's a good player, and a good man, but he's in a different jersey. There are a lot of dudes like that in the NHL, and none of them get any special treatment when they're playing my hockey team.
When his career is over? Legend. Banner. Today? He's in the same, semi-sentimental category as Martin Havlat, Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara, Dany Heatley... well, not Dany Heatley. But as much as I respect 75% of those guys, when they play my team, they're all wearing the wrong laundry. SENATORS UBER ALLES.
Luke Peristy: What about Alfie's first game back in Ottawa. Will it be a big deal? Probably, but it shouldn't be. I think it will be a big deal for anyone who considers Alfie's departure a "betrayal" of some kind. After the Yashin and Heatley incidents, the Sens fan base can be a little hyper-sensitive about this sort of stuff. Frankly, it's time to suck it up. Alfie literally gave the team the best years of his life, and if any player has earned the right to finish their career on their own terms, it's Daniel Alfredsson. Let's try to be better than booing a guy for deigning to exercising his right as a free agent. We've got our own stuff going on now. We can win this breakup!
Bonk's Mullet: I haven't lost any respect for Alfie, but I want him to lose harder than Erik Condra in an egg-and-spoon race.
|In the red, Kyle Turris! In the black, Jason Spezza! In the blue, Erik Condra!|
Chet Sellers: I am rooting against the Red Wings, and I am rooting against Daniel Alfredsson because he plays for the Detroit Red Wings. Two minutes into Wednesday's game, none of this is going to matter because you're going to see a bunch of pro athletes play any other hockey game. But on December 1, it's time for us amateurs to have our say. I expect a standing ovation for the man when he's introduced, followed by a standing ovation when Marc Methot rubs him out along the boards. Anything less wouldn't be hockey.
Bonk's Mullet: Hehe, "rubs him out."
That's it for our first Radekal Thinking panel. The consensus seems to be that although Alfie meant everything to us, we might be better off without him. There's plenty of Swedes in the sea. Or at least that's what your best friend is telling you as he or she rubs your back, handing you another tissue.
We want to hear from you, the #FEARLESS reader. Should tonight's game be a big deal? Do you miss Alfie's presence on the ice? Does Alfie's hip new haircut and mustache make you feel inadequate as a former