Late on this but the following is a transcript of Bryan Murray's press conference to update the media on Erik Karlsson's status. Credit should be given to Murray for staying composed and keeping it together. He's essentially the antithesis of Eugene Melnyk.
As always, my thoughts will be in bold.
“First of all an update on Erik – he had surgery this morning. (It was a) seventy-percent cut of the Achilles tendon. Timeframe (for recovery) is three to four months. From our information, (the surgery) went well. It was a clean cut. Recovery is expected to be 100-percent but it does mean that his year is finished at this time.”
Is anyone else shocked that Matt Cooke doesn’t coat his skate blades with poison?
On fears of Karlsson maybe not being able to come back at 100-percent…
“Yeah, well it was one of the concerns, there’s no question. Some of these damaged tendons take up to a year (to recover fully). Dr. Chow was the front doctor on this with a couple of others working with him and indications were that it went well enough that the timeframe was basically confirmed to be 100-percent.”
That’s great. I only would have been worried had Karlsson come out looking my old friend Mr. McCraig, with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg.
On the concerns created by a leg surgery to a player who thrives and exploits other teams using his speed…
“Very definitely. It’s all about the young man at this point in time to get back to the level that he was at. Certainly, (he’s) one of the good players in the National Hockey League, if not right at the top of the list and we certainly want (to) get him back to that level – for our sake but also for his sake.”
On disappointment that Matt Cooke did not receive any supplemental discipline…
“As I told Brendan Shanahan this morning, that’s not my job. My job is to worry about the Ottawa Senators. The league, Brendan being the front guy for the league in this case, has to do what they feel is right. They feel it was a hockey play gone bad. I suggested that Matt Cooke had somewhat of a history and that maybe that should be considered as well. But I don’t believe that’s the approach that they took; they took it as the individual act. I’m not sure. I’ve heard some sources say that this is the new way to do things in hockey - get your body in position and your skates are more in the play than they have been in the past. Being in hockey all these years, I don’t see that very often but beyond that… it’s no benefit for us or for anybody (to push for the player to be suspended). It’s up to the league to make these decisions. We get no value out of a player being suspended and I’m not pushing that at all.
“I would be disrespectful if I went out and was outraged by it. I’m outraged by the fact that we lost Erik Karlsson, that’s all. I’m disappointed for him and obviously, I’m disappointed for the players on our team, the coaching staff here and the fans of this city and around the league. This was one of the most entertaining players; one of the reasons that you come to the arena to games at night; and to lose him, is a tremendous loss.”
Bryan will obviously leave the criticisms to Senators owner, Eugene Melnyk.
On acquiring a puck-moving defenceman…
“I don’t know (if I’ll make a move). As I said when Jason (Spezza) went down, that (not) many other managers are going to do any favors for me. I don’t think… I’ve made some calls on some players over the last week or two, but there’s been nobody willing to give me a good player for a player that’s not in the league yet. And that’s the hard part of it, course. We’ve got some really good prospects coming. We’ve got guys playing prime roles right now that we were going to put on the team and introduce them to the NHL and play third or fourth line minutes and hopefully, they would grow into a role within a year. And now, they’re playing over twenty minutes a game and it will be magnified more as we’re going forward.”
The biggest concern from a developmental standpoint is that when these players are trying to play over 20 minutes a night, they’re out there trying to survive instead of playing to their strengths.
On how does this change their team and going about trying to win games…
“Well, it changes obviously dramatically. You lose a fair amount of skill. As I said all along when Jason was knocked out of the lineup, the backend has to contribute. I believe that in our league today, if the defencemen aren’t involved in the offence and don’t give you points on a fairly consistent basis, it’s very hard to win. And I think you see that in games around the league. So, we don’t replace Erik Karlsson. We don’t have anybody in that category of player. We hope that other people eat up his minutes and that defensively, we don’t allow any goals. I guess that’s the only way that we can do it. Craig Anderson has got to be great and our defence has to be great and hopefully find, by committee, a way to score some goals.”
The sad part since Jason’s back surgery is that the team was struggling to score goals before Karlsson’s Achilles injury. In the nine games since Spezza’s last appearance, the Senators have only averaged 2.11 goals per game. Fortunately, thanks to the play of Craig Anderson, they’re only giving up an average of 1.89 goals per game.
The understated aspect of Karlsson’s absence is the impact that it will have on Ottawa’s possession game. Called upon to play against the opposition’s best forwards, Karlsson’s defence excels because he keeps the puck off of the sticks of the opposition’s most dangerous players. For some great reading material, I’ll direct you toward Chris’ post on Karlsson’s possession effects.
On having a belief that they still have a chance at the playoffs…
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that. I believe we’ve got to work hard and we hope to get some guys back in the near future that can contribute. We have to make some call ups which we’ll discuss this afternoon and decide (upon). And we have to go into Toronto and New Jersey on the weekend and try and do our best.”
The Senators announced Derek Grant, David Dziurzynski and Eric Gryba had been recalled from Binghamton yesterday afternoon. Gryba’s impressive +/- numbers (+28 in 38 games) have been well documented around the interwebs, and Grant’s long been a favorite of Hockey Prospectus’ Corey Pronman. Assuming Grant plays tonight, he’ll be the sixth member of Ottawa’s vaunted 2008 draft class to play in a NHL game – Karlsson, Wiercioch, Z. Smith, Petersson, and Borowiecki being the others. The less heralded of the three is Grant’s linemate, David Dziurzynski. Together with Mark Stone, they formed a checking line that was employed by Luke Richardson against the opposition’s top line.
“(Michalek) is being checked out, as of... probably right now. He had a little swelling. He twisted his knee in warm up yesterday. It was a little tender. We pulled him out (of the lineup) because we didn’t want to risk anything further. We’re hoping that he’ll miss a game or two and is able to come back. But beyond that, I don’t have an answer at the moment.”
Over the past three seasons Michalek’s missed 37 regular season games with a variety of injuries. The loss of Karlsson, Spezza and Milo means that Ottawa’s lineup is missing three 2012 All-Stars who combined for 88 goals and 228 points last season. Puke.
On losing Spezza, Karlsson and the possibility of writing off this season and parlaying veteran assets or a guy who’s playing well like Craig Anderson for futures…
“Well, Craig Anderson has two years left on his contract. I would say that he’s a pretty good cornerstone to build with. I mean, I don’t know who’s saying that – if it’s some guy up the valley or in the other end of town, but I really think that he’s a cornerstone guy. He’s at a stage in his career where he’ll probably be able to play five or eight more years if we want him to do that. And Robin is going to be a guy that we can bring (up) and that’s where you have to start in this business. These guys are going to recover. Cowen is going to come back. Karlsson is going to come back. Eventually, we’re going to have our core again. Let’s see if we can go some distance here and give people a reason to continue to cheer for the Ottawa Senators.”
The decision on when to trade Craig Anderson is an intriguing one, albeit, it’s one that probably doesn’t have to be answered until after the season. I think most people agree that at some point, the keys to the car need to be turned over to Robin Lehner. But when should that be? Obviously with the way that Andy has been playing, his value from a performance standpoint will never be higher than it is right now. However, I’m not sure that many markets actually need goaltenders right now. And if they do, I’m skeptical that these organizations would be willing to parlay young, NHL ready assets to supplement Ottawa’s core. The timing of a deal just does not make much sense and Ottawa might be best suited to making that move in the offseason, when teams are typically more willing to make bigger and bolder moves. Further to the timing point, would it be prudent for Lehner to develop in the NHL behind a roster that is so riddled with injuries and holes? I’m not convinced. Mind you, with the rate that Binghamton’s roster is being pillaged by the Senators, that organization might not be the best place for him either.
On other injuries…
“Well we think Peter Regin will be ready very shortly. He is eligible to come off IR on Sunday. He skated today, so we’re hoping that he’ll be able to play. (Guillaume) Latendresse we’re not sure yet. He feels pretty good today but he hasn’t skated in a little bit, so we’ll probably have to wait another few days for him. Other than that, somebody else is going to have to... Luke Richardson is going to lose some players in Binghamton. He has to survive down there and we’ll have to leave him a goaltender, so that’s what we’ll do.”
Sounds like Lehner won’t be coming up anytime soon.
On trying to find an element…
“I don’t know how I do it, but we’re going to try. We’re going to talk to teams. I don’t think I want to give up first round picks right now to finish up the year. I want to continue to… we have got some kids. We have got a few hurt down there but we’ve got a few kids that we’ll give a chance to – out of necessity, more than anything. I think we’ve got a core here and I know we’ve got a good coaching staff and they’ll put up a game plan to make us competitive every night. I thought last night we kind of lost a little heart in the third period because of Erik (Karlsson). I think they all went into the room and saw him. I thought we had a really good second period; we were very competitive in the game. Now we’ll have a day to recover and hopefully come back. Jimmy O’Brien and Erik Condra will continue to play the way they are and fill the net.”
Good to hear that the organization is finally removed from the era in which they would sacrifice the future for short-term results. Although maybe the organization realizes that when you’re counting on Erik Condra and Jim O’Brien to continue to play well and produce offensively, it may be best to just write off the season.
On being worried about the mindset of the players.
“That’s why I’m wearing black today; I’m worried about everything today. But, we’ll recover from this. We may not be as talented, but I think we have got a real good, strong character group and we have to hope that they will help carry us through.”
I suppose if we’re looking for silver linings for this season, it’s that it is a lockout shortened one. Could you imagine if we had to endure the bulk of the remaining 68 games without Karlsson and Spezza? Sens fans would be the ones with the character helping carry them through it.
On how Karlsson is doing…
“Well, he’s angry. He had some comment. I talked to him a little bit about it. Emotion is a big part of what we do in this business or have to have in this business. Erik was upset. He thought he got directed. He got cut by a skate that shouldn’t have been where it was. It was a nothing play at the time. It should have been blown down because the puck went into the net. There are lots of things that could have happened that didn’t happen. He’ll be fine. One thing about Erik, he’s a strong guy. He’s confident. He thought last night, ‘I’ll be back in four or five weeks.’ And that’s no longer the case, but when he does get ready for therapy, he’ll work real hard to get back, be healthy and be a good player again.”
On teams not being ready to trade yet and it still being too early to trade now…
“Well, nobody is going to trade a very good player to you unless you give a very good player back; that’s the norm. And I don’t know how, if Bruce (Garrioch) is right in his assessment of Erik Karlsson, then it’s unlikely I’ll be able to get that kind of player back. I don’t really want to give up the best, young prospect in my organization to get a short-term guy here. So, we’re going to try and live with what we have for the time being. If there’s something out there that… I know there will a lot of sympathetic general managers that will be calling, I hope, and we’ll try and remedy some of the problems that we might have. But I can’t envision that we are going to replace what we now have lost.”
Thanks for the sobering thoughts, Bryan. Although we cannot just expect the next Erik Karlsson to just walk through that door, it would not be surprising to see the Senators make some trades that are akin to the Turris deal - parlaying quantity of young assets for a young NHL talent entering his prime.
On it being safe to say that he is actively looking to make a deal…
“That’s a good term.”
Quotes like this make me wish some beat writer asked Murray a follow-up question, “Would it be safe to refer to Matt Cooke as a soulless sack of ****?”
On having spoken with Eugene Melnyk…
“Oh many times. (He’s) just like me – very frustrated and disappointed losing our players; losing some of our best players to injury. But, the solution is not to ***** and moan about it, it’s to do something on the ice that will help us remain competitive.”
Is the timetable still the same on Hoffman and Stone…
“Well, Hoffman was a total of eight weeks. After a total of eight weeks, you have got to play in the minors again. The schedule is over by then, so we’re not counting on him. Stone, his finger is healing but it’s going to be four weeks more, minimum on him. Spezz, we know the timetable on him and the other couple of guys we have a chance to get back in the not-to-distant future.”
Speaking of Stone and Hoffman, it must be agonizing for these two prospects to know that the timing of their respective injuries have kept them out of the NHL this season.
On increased pressures faced by Patrick Wiercioch…
“Well, I think it’s like saying, ‘We need Silfverberg to score more and Zibanejad to score more.’ They were not supposed to be top six forwards at the beginning of the year... well, maybe Silfverberg. So, Patrick Wiercioch is introducing himself to the league and we’re trying to make him a better player as we go forward. I don’t think it’s fair for me or for anybody to say, now you’ve got to take Erik Karlsson’s place, that won’t happen here at all.”
Thank Alfie (god).