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Sports Illustrated Ranking: 10
By Michael Farber
Captain Alexei Yashin is AWOL in Switzerland, demanding a new
contract or a trade. This, of course, isn't the first time
Yashin has vanished. In Buffalo's first-round playoff sweep of
favored Ottawa last spring, the 44-goal scorer was
pointless -- which is what further Yashin bashin' would be since
plenty of opposing players have already taken their best verbal
shots. Yashin remains a valuable asset whom new Ottawa general
manager Marshall Johnston will try to deal for young talent or
repatriate when he has seen enough of Vaclav Prospal (10 goals)
as his team's first-line center.
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After Yashin the player that the playoff-bound Senators will
miss most is goaltender Damian Rhodes (22-13-7, 2.44
goals-against average), who was traded to the expansion
Thrashers in mid-June. With his departure the full-time job
belongs to Ron Tugnutt, who made the All-Star team while
splitting time with Rhodes last season but who has not been an
undisputed No. 1 goalie since 1990-91 and has yet to prove
himself in big games. In a 1997 postseason series against
Buffalo, Tugnutt gave up an overtime goal that cost Ottawa a
berth in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and at the world
championships in May he was in net for Canada's semifinal
shootout loss to the Czech Republic.
Tugnutt, though, should be able to carry a bigger load thanks to
coach Jacques Martin's tight-checking, disciplined system. The
Senators will be even better defensively this year with the
acquisition of forward Rob Zamuner, one of the game's premier
two-way players. Zamuner and hard-nosed right wing Kevin Dineen,
another new addition, will also provide much-needed veteran
leadership for a club whose strength is its young core of speedy
forwards and maturing defensemen. Radek Bonk, Magnus Arvedson and
Marian Hossa (average age: 23) are the NHL's most dangerous third
line, and Wade Redden is the best defenseman in the NHL under age
Early last season former Ottawa coach Rick Bowness predicted that
the Senators would win a Stanley Cup within three years if the
front office found the money to keep the team together. That's a
big if, though. Principal owner Rod Bryden is leading the cry for
tax reform that would put Canadian NHL teams on a more even
footing with U.S.-based teams. The movement, though, has yet to
yield any tax breaks, as Canadians are wary of financing the $23
million Yashin would get for the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons if
Bryden caves in to his demands. For now, the owner says he will
continue to hold the line. He can only hope Prospal does so well
with his new line.
Issue date: October 4, 1999
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Nineteen-year-old Mike Fisher has been turning heads, especially when he scored the game-winning goal in an exhibition game. And it looks like the Senators will have a center position to fill.
G Ron Tugnutt put an end to the platoon in net by going 22-10-8 with a league-leading 1.79 GAA.
If C Alexei Yashin really sits out the season -- or finagles a trade -- the Senators will be hard-pressed to repeat last year's success.|
The sweep suffered at the end of the 1998-1999 season may have shaken the confidence of the Sens a bit.
Could somebody please keep the Tugger off the water, please?
People, Places and Things
GM: Marshall Johnston
Coach: Jacques Martin; 4th season (119-116-49); 6th overall (185-187-72)
Assistants: Perry Pearn
Captain: Alexei Yashin
Last year: 44-23-15 (3rd overall)
Playoffs: Lost to Buffalo 4-0 in first round
PP: 15th (14.9%)
PK: 8th (86.1%)
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Sat., Oct. 2: Opener at Philadelphia.
Thu., Oct. 7: Home opener vs. Boston.
Sat., Feb. 19: The Senators host Vancouver in the first game of an unprecedented Hockey Night in Canada tripleheader featuring the six Canadian-based clubs.
179: Goals allowed, more than only Stanley Cup finalists Buffalo and Dallas.
"We want Alexei Yashin in our lineup. That's obvious. It's a given. He makes our hockey club better. His presence would mean better job security . . . for all of us. But this is not just about this year. We have to look down the road, five, 10 years for this franchise." -- GM Marshall Johnston