In our second instalment of 10 Questions, we chatted with avid hockey fan and Binghamton Senators expert, Emily Rose, to get her thoughts on the shortcomings and successes of the Baby Sens’ season.
Emily Rose (@EmilyRose474) is a long-time fan of the Binghamton Senators and no stranger on Sens Twitter. Emily frequently watches the Baby Sens in action (bless her soul for sticking with them this season), and offers an interesting perspective into the Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate as they near the end of their tenure in Binghamton, with a move to Belleville looming next season.
1. How long have you been following the Binghamton Senators? Do you follow the Ottawa Senators team at all?
I have been a Binghamton Senators fan since the beginning, 15 years ago. I do follow the Ottawa team but that came a year or two later, once players I knew were getting called up. I consider Ottawa my favorite NHL team.
2. Recently, Senators management have added more veteran depth to the AHL squad than younger prospects. Do you think that management has added the right mix of players to the B-Sens roster, or would you like the team to get younger and focus more on player development?
I do not think it’s the right mix. For starters, I don’t necessarily think the veteran depth they’ve chosen to add has been all that effective. I think the organization as a whole needs to focus on the younger guys with a heavier emphasis on development. The team has got to stop trading developing guys in favour of veterans or future picks. I find that Ottawa is notorious for rushing players up to the NHL or giving up on them before they make it there. Mike Hoffman spent nearly four full seasons in Binghamton and has been phenomenal for Ottawa as a result of that development process. They’ve got to commit to players and develop them the right way in order to be successful in the long-term.
3. Has the coaching change had a noticeable impact in the style of play in Ottawa/Binghamton so far this season?
Yes. You could immediately see the difference with the introduction of Guy Boucher’s system. Defensive players are pushing deep into the offensive zone with forwards shifting back to cover for them. It took some time for players, and fans, to grow accustomed to the new style but it works at times. Additionally, Coach Kleinendorst has certainly brought his own style to the table. Putting a near total stop to fighting and implementing strict on and off-ice policies, Coach K has certainly switched things up here in Binghamton. All told, I don’t agree with his coaching style and have heard rumblings about lack of locker room control and respect under his leadership.
4. Which player has impressed you the most so far? Which player has been the biggest disappointment?
I actually found this question hard to answer. The consistency in Binghamton has left something to be desired. Of late, I would say Jason Akeson. He rejoined the team in November after leaving after last season to play in the KHL. Even he has been inconsistent though. Other than Akes, I would probably say Casey Bailey, Max McCormick, and Jack Rodewald have stood out as skilled players. However, I can honestly say there are no stand-out players because there is so much inconsistency. Speaking solely on this season, my biggest disappointment has been Chad Nehring. He was one of the veterans that Ottawa signed to bolster the AHL roster. Coming off of a strong year in Hartford, where he was their leading scorer, he has been utterly invisible on the ice, injured more than once, and a real disappointment. Beyond Nehring, I haven’t been overly thrilled with Patrick Sieloff’s performance and it’s been clear that Matt O’Connor has not lived up to Ottawa’s hopes or Binghamton’s needs.
5. Which players, if any, do you think are ready to make the jump to the NHL squad, either this year or next year?
None of them. None of them are ready and if Ottawa rushes them, they will be ruined.
6. Out of the current batch of Ottawa prospects currently not playing in Binghamton, which would you like to see spend some time in the AHL next season (Ex: Chabot/White)?
This is a loaded question. You don’t want to say that all players should spend time in the AHL because it’s clear that there are stand-out players who do not need to develop and are ready for the pros immediately. However, I do not think you lose anything by having prospects spend time in lower level leagues. It gives them a chance to develop and gain their bearings. Ottawa has a reputation for rushing players to the NHL and ruining them. Looking at players like Curtis Lazar and Cody Ceci, it’s obvious that they could have benefited from time, or more time, in the AHL to develop. I think players like Chabot, White, and other up and coming prospects should spend time at the lower level because the worst that could happen is they light the league up and get called up after a few games. I would rather have that happen than rush a player up too quick, destroy their confidence, and end up with a lackluster season.
7. Why do you think Matt O’Connor has struggled so much this season? Do you think he has a future in the NHL?
Matt O’Connor was ruined by Ottawa in the first game that he played for them. He was rushed to the NHL and he was rushed into sharing the starting goaltender position in Binghamton last year. He was forced into so many games and was not given the support he needed in terms of coaching, time spent as a back-up, or even time in the ECHL. OC never should have played in as many games as he did and it destroyed his confidence. That has carried over into this season. I do think he can be a successful goaltender. I do not think he can be a successful goaltender with the Senators organization.
8. Do you think that the current AHL goaltenders, including O’Connor, would benefit from having a dedicated goalie coach permanently with the team, rather than one rotating between Ottawa and Binghamton?
I do. I think the players need all the support they can get, especially the current goalies.
9. With the Senators’ AHL affiliate moving to Belleville at the end of this season, there will no doubt be mixed emotions among Binghamton fans. How excited are fans for a new era with the Binghamton Devils?
I am not going to sugarcoat this, Binghamton fans are incredibly excited for a new era. Although bittersweet, a lot of fans have grown tired of the way Ottawa has developed their players through the AHL over the years. They leave something to be desired within their affiliation. Although fans are sad to see Ottawa go, I think they are sadder about the memories of the Senators’ players rather than the organization itself.
10. Will you still follow the Belleville players and the Senators organization as a whole, or will you ditch the centurion armour for horns and a pitchfork?
I will not follow the Belleville Senators. I’m a hometown fan first so I will be cheering for the Binghamton Devils but the Senators will still be my NHL team and I will continue to follow them. I actually think I will be a better Ottawa Senators fan by being removed from the way that they develop their players. Especially if they continue to develop their players the way they currently do. That being said, I’m in far too deep with the Ottawa Senators to turn back now. I fell in love with hockey because of the Senators’ organization and for that I will always be grateful and faithful.
A huge thank you to Emily for agreeing to chat with us about the B-Sens past, present, and future. Hopefully her insights into the team and the development process will resonate will fans of the Ottawa Senators organization.
On behalf of Sens Army, I want to thank Binghamton fans for supporting the Senators organization for the past 15 years. It hasn’t always been easy, but you stuck with the team through thick and thin. Best of luck to the Binghamton Devils next season and beyond!