Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dom’s done, Zed’s a B, changing times in Ottawa.

The free agency sweepstakes took a hunk out of the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, losing a lynchpin of the defence and picking up yet another goaltender for the fickle Senator fans to obsess about until training camp gets underway.

The Dominator is no more in Ottawa, the Sens cut the enigmatic Domenic Hasek loose on Saturday, ending the great John Muckler experiment that went sideways as yet another playoff season ended in disappointment. Perhaps a sign that Brian Murray won a key battle over personnel in the Senators Front Office, as Murray had suggested at the end of the Sens brief playoff appearance that perhaps the Sens should go in a different direction in their goaltending. That direction apparently to be Martin Gerber, recently of the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes and Peter Laviolette doghouse. Gerber put his name on the dotted line for three years and 11.1 million dollars. Muckler believes that Gerber will be a stabilizing force for the Sens as he and Ray Emery hold down the fort in the back end of the rink.

And in that end, it seems that in the end, it was the lure of big money took Zdeno Chara away from Ottawa. However, to the surprise of many, the big man of the D ended up with the B’s. The last rumour before the free agency clock struck midnight was that the New York Rangers was looking to lure the Senator to their team of wandering Europeans. But instead it was the Bruin’s who stepped up and opened up the wallet bringing Chara to beantown for 37.5 million over five years.

Chara will join former Senator executive Peter Chiarelli in Boston, Chiarelli the new Bruin GM will officially take over (he he, nice bit of theatre that must be) the Bruins in two weeks (under a league ruling he was not be involved with any negotiations with Senator players until July 15th, so if he was true to the ruling then assistant GM Jeff Gorton must be in total simpatico with his new boss, and hey what a welcome to the club present for Chiarelli), but when he does he will have arrived to a job that suddenly has a lot of upside to it, holding one the most desired defenceman in its stable of employees. The Bruins and Sens match up eight times in 2006-07, lots of time for Chiarelli and Chara to remind the Senator faithful of the changing tides in hockey.

Brian Pothier also left the Sens behind this free agency Saturday, taking his defensive game on to new challenges with the Capitals. To fill in the depth chart at defence, Muckler picked up Joe Corvo off the Los Angeles Kings for four years at 10.1 million.

The Sens on Friday secured one key ingredient to their defensive machine, as they signed Wade Redden to a new contract, Redden showed some of the leadership he’s been known for of late with his offer to make less money if the Sens could also secure the services of Chara, as events played out Chara wasn’t quite as inclined to keep that old gang in Ottawa complete and took the pile of cash behind the Bruin’s door.

John Muckler now has a fair amount of cash left over to work with, so expect him to find a few more parts to his on ice puzzle. But make no mistake, there is a rather large piece now permanently missing and it will take a fair amount of work to push a new piece into the space that just became vacant.

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