Senators owner Eugene Melnyk sticking by coach and GM the rest of the year

The misery that has been the Ottawa Senators season has many fans in Ottawa and eastern Ontario angry and calling for some kind of shakeup. They want trades to be made, they want people to be fired, they want the Senators to be winners again.

After working a lot of magic last year to end up with the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference last season, the magic is gone now and Sens owner Eugene Melnyk can hear the shouts from his office. Melnyk has never been shy of speaking with the media and today he showed that side of himself once again.

Melnyk stepped up publicly to say that if there are going to be any changes in the front office in Canada’s capital city, they’re not going to happen this season. It’s not quite the dreaded vote of confidence for coach Cory Clouston and GM Bryan Murray, but it’s not exactly a promise they’ll be around forever either.

“At this time, it makes no sense to make managerial or coaching changes,” said Melnyk. “We’ll let the season play itself out and look forward to building for the future.”

Melnyk also stated that that there is a plan being worked out that will see the club get back to contending. While he didn’t reveal what the plan was, it seems clear that changes of some kind will be coming.

While fans want heads to roll, the business reality of the situation is that both Clouston and Murray have contracts that run out at the end of the season. After all, why fire and pay guys to not work for your team when you can just have them ride it out the rest of the way and let them walk away when it’s over with.

As for how the team will respond to hearing that front office turmoil won’t interrupt things, Daniel Alfredsson says that he’s happy there won’t be any distractions.

“I think it’s good for us in terms of not having to deal with those questions everyday, and maybe the uncertainty, and just focus on trying to right the ship,” he said. “So I think it will make a difference.

“We’ve had a long stretch here where we haven’t got enough points. And even though we’ve played some good games, it wears on your confidence and the morale of the team, and then on everybody. And then the speculation comes in. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and I’m sure it has an effect on us as a group.

“But we’re just going to come to work everyday. We’ve got to get better in certain areas and right the ship and go in the right direction.”

It’s good PR there from the Senators captain, but with the lack of solid goaltending or defensive play as well as severe poor performance from virtually everyone on offense, it’s tough to keep a positive outlook at all. If the season continues to slip away for the Sens, the one thing that might save the fans hopes is a full house cleaning and getting someone at the top of the draft that inspires the fans into believing. Otherwise, the 2011-2012 season will look ugly heading into it with just an All-Star Game to look forward to.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs

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Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

It’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

Carey Price,
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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 30-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury

Report: Jets offered Byfuglien for Hamonic, Isles said no

Dustin Byfuglien

If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.

So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.

“I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.

“I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”

Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.

That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?

Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

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The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.