Sens owner Melnyk says ‘there’s nobody safe’ after disappointing year

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The Ottawa Senators are going to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years, and the guy in charge isn’t happy about it.

What’s more, it sounds like heads might roll.

“I’m looking at all of it, right across the board, nobody is safe when you have a year like we just did,” Sens owner Eugene Melnyk said on Tuesday, per the Ottawa Citizen. “The status quo would just get us there again next year and this team cannot survive not making the playoffs.”

In meeting with the media today, Melnyk sounded off on a number of problems he’s seen with the club this year.

He cited inconsistent play and the inability to get on a winning streak as a chief culprit. Ottawa never won more than four games in a row this year, and only did that twice, to which Melnyk said “I don’t think we ever had a streak of any significance.”

As for head coach Dave Cameron? He can’t be feeling much job security after this:

Melnyk hasn’t liked what’s happened with the Senators since Day 1. He was mystified by Cameron’s decision to sit starter Craig Anderson in the club’s home opener in October and give O’Connor, a raw rookie the net, in a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. 

He was asked why it went so badly?

“No idea. Bryan and I sit there and we just nod our head. We can’t get it. We get it now. I remember back in December some of those games, three in a row that we lost by a goal we were leading. It was inconsistency and some stupidity,” said Melnyk, who then pointed at Cameron’s decision.

“I go back to the very first game. You put in the second goalie. What was that about? On opening night and the guy gets clobbered. It’s not fair to him, not fair to the fans. Just a lot of little tiny mistakes that all of a sudden escalate and get serious and get in people’s heads.”

As for players, Ottawa doesn’t have a ton to do on the contract front. There are no key unrestricted free agents needing contracts and, of the RFAs needing deals — Mike Hoffman, Alex Chiasson, Matt Puempel, Ryan Dzingel, Patrick Wiercioch and Cody Ceci — the Hoffan one could get interesting, given he leads the team in goals (26) but has also clashed with Cameron on occasion.

Finally, there’s GM Bryan Murray.

The 73-year-old has won respect and admiration throughout the league for continuing to work through prostate cancer, and reports had suggested this would be his last season on the job.

However, in September, Murray suggested he might not be ready to step away.

Per NHL.com, Murray’s contract with the Senators calls for him to be a consultant next year, which could pave the way for assistant GMs Pierre Dorion and/or Randy Lee to be promoted to the head gig. Or Melnyk could bring in a new GM entirely, one with a fresh set of eyes for the organization.

Whatever the case, it promises to be an interesting offseason in the Canadian capital.

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.