The Senators season is now over. I still get asked all the time how they did what they did with all the injuries and all the inexperience. I still don't know the answer. Good coaching, good luck, great goaltending, youthful exuberance, I just don't know. I don't believe I have ever seen a team go as far with such little experience and so many hurdles in front of them.
It is my belief that the Senators most important project this summer is actually off the ice not on it. The Senators need to carefully manage the expectations of the fans and the media. Under promise and over deliver is a great way to run any business. The Senators have accomplished that over the last 2 season but more by accident rather than intention.
As stated publicly 2 years ago by the owner, the president and the general manager, this is a rebuild. Its a 3-year rebuild where as originally stated by Mr. Melnyk "we plan to contend for a playoff spot in three years". Clearly the club is way ahead of that since they got to the 1st round in year #1 of the rebuild and now the 2nd round in year #2 of the rebuild. This is so far past any reasonable expectation.
So it follows that the Senators now should make it to the conference final next year. Well hold on Trigger, this is the expectation monster that must be contained. Next season is year #3 of the rebuild. Nothing more. If the Senators don't make the playoffs or get bounced in the first round, has the rebuild been a failure? Not if the team is filled with young talent and set up to be a strong playoff team for the next 10 years.
We have all seen cities which crush their teams under the weight of unreasonable expectations, hopefully Ottawa will not be one of those cities. Let this still very young team, continue to ripen and it is more likely to transform from a playoff contender to a Cup contender before your very eyes.
See you at the rink.