Front and Senator
Whether Dany Heatley will suit up alongside Jason Spezza again this season in Ottawa is still up in the air. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Front and Senator
This mailbag is dedicated to John Hughes, the Hollywood director who died unexpectedly in New York Thursday at age 59.
Like almost everyone who was a teenager in the ‘80s, I saw just about every movie the man filmed or wrote. Most people today will point to the awesome Sixteen Candles (“Automobile?”) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (with immortal character actress and Hughes favorite Edie McLurg) as his most memorable works, but I loved The Great Outdoors (featuring Dan Ackroyd’s introduction of a certain anatomical section to a “Mr. Urinal Cake” and the late John Candy stuttering about a “big bear”) and Uncle Buck (“You ever hear of a tune-up?/You ever hear of a ritual killing?”) most of all.
Now, down to business:
Hey Adam, do you think everyone is underestimating the Senators for this season? Let’s say Dany Heatley comes back to the team and dries his tears and in Alex Kovalev they seem to have gotten the secondary scoring forward that they needed. If Pascal Leclaire can get some confidence out of the gate, do you see the Sens playing the role of dark horse in the Eastern Conference?
Jon Bennett, Ottawa
If all those things come to pass, I could see the Senators as a dark horse – but not a dark horse to come out of the East altogether. More like a dark horse to secure one of the bottom few playoff berths.
I don’t think Ottawa’s season hinges completely on Leclaire’s performance. It’s the defense corps in front of him – one that, not so long ago, was the league’s deepest, yet today likely wouldn’t be rated in the top five in the East – that will dictate the Sens’ success level.
As well, it will also be crucial that Triple C (Coach Cory Clouston) asserts himself and his game strategies with the same degree of passion and backbone that had the Sens playing well in the second half of last season. Regardless of how the Heatley saga plays out, Clouston can’t afford to give preferential treatment to someone like the ever-sensitive Kovalev without risking his respect among the rest of the roster.
Adam, do you think this could be the final year in a Canuck sweater for Roberto Luongo? Will Simeon Varlamov take over as starting goalie for the Washington Capitals? Will John Tavares be the big shot everyone expects him to be? Have the Montreal Canadiens improved since last season?
Nathan Hrysak, Shoal Lake, Man.
1. No, I’ve got a hunch Luongo will sign another deal with the Canucks – one that’s maybe four or five years in length and leaves him with one more opportunity to change teams if things don’t go as planned in Vancouver.
2. First of all, he now wants to be referred to as Semyon, not Simeon; (one more name change and I’m calling him the P. Diddy-Diddy-Bo-Fidee-Banana-Fana-Fo-Fiddy of the NHL); and yes, Varlamov’s playoff performance assures him of the first shot at making the Caps’ No. 1 job all his own.
3. Tavares will be spectacular at times, but if you’re expecting him to singlehandedly drag the Isles into the playoffs, you’re expecting too much.
4. Personally, I don’t think the Habs are a better team. Heck, GM Bob Gainey admitted to THN Senior Writer Ken Campbell that he’s not certain the Canadiens will make the playoffs this year. All I know is (a); they’re still a small team; (b) Carey Price is going to have to re-prove himself to always-expectant Montreal fans; and (c) Jacques Martin is their coach. Those would be significant hurdles for any team to clear.
Adam, with all of the rebuilding the Islanders have done this summer, where do you put them in the standings this upcoming season?
Trey Taylor, Raleigh, N.C.
I’m not as down on the Islanders as THN was collectively for our pre-season predictions, but I still don’t see them finishing anywhere but last in the Atlantic and somewhere between 12th and 14th in the East.
I understand and accept arguments from Isles fans that their goaltending situation is much improved and that they probably won’t have to deal with as many man-games lost to injury as they did in 2008-09.
Still, there is no doubt that much of the hockey world sees them as being at least a year or two away from having the depth and number of blossoming young players to challenge the Penguins, Flyers and Devils for a playoff spot, let alone to be considered as a genuine Stanley Cup contender.
Adam, I'm going to Denmark in December and I'm a bit scared. Have you ever done something like this and if so what did you do to get over your fear? Thanks.
Josh Jackson, Stevensville, Ont.
I know this isn’t a hockey question, but I’m all about alleviating hang-ups, so I Googled both “fear of Denmark” and “Dane-o-phobia” and, unfortunately, there’s no psychological condition or treatment to be found in the search results. Did you have a regrettable childhood experience with a Viking? Or are you troubled to visit a land where AQUA is considered a musical treasure?
If you’re worried about traveling alone – I wouldn’t sweat it. Uncertainty is the midwife of adventure!
‘Sup Adam! Do you think Edmonton will get into the playoffs next year with Khabibulin?
Kyle William Partiss, Bristol, Conn.
I see the Oilers in a group of teams – St. Louis, L.A., Dallas, Nashville, Columbus – who are going to be bunched up anywhere from the seventh seed in the West to the 12th seed.
If Edmonton does wind up qualifying for the post-season, it isn’t going to be solely – or even mostly – because of Khabibulin’s play; it will be because their young players (Patrick O’Sullivan, Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano) rebound from sub-par years.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' question in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show every other Friday in the summer from 4-5 p.m. EST on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.
Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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