I can't imagine a more insulting word to describe a professional hockey team. It means weak, breakable, delicate, dainty. Yet we continue to hear the world thrown around freely by the Ottawa Senators. Players have used the word and, instead of shutting it down, head coach D.J. Smith has used it too.
If your kid came home from school and called themselves fragile and weak, you'd build them up; tell them it's not true; tell them they're strong. You wouldn't say, "Yes, sweetheart. You are fragile and weak."
Senators' GM John Muckler used to say, "You’ll never win the Stanley Cup unless you talk about it." What do you suppose he'd project for a team that describes itself as fragile?
Now, I understand that the current lack of saves and scoring ability have a little more to do with a team's fortunes than choice of vernacular. But the tolerance for a coach or a player casually describing the Senators as fragile is bothersome.
But it's also super accurate. While I'd never condone my team describing itself that way, it's exactly what the Sens are right now.
As the Senators went into Winnipeg on February 12th—with a record of 2-11-1—they came out flying. They didn't score, but they dominated the pace of play in the first period, outperforming the Jets in every way.
But, after 20 minutes, it was still scoreless. And you got a real sense that Winnipeg had the Sens right where they wanted them. Ottawa's fragility would just need a little bump—a bad bounce, a penalty, something—and the Sens swagger would shatter and turn to dust.
And shatter it did.
Off the opening faceoff, the Jets dumped it into Ottawa's zone, goalie Matt Murray went out to play the puck behind his net. Murray mishandled it, leaving his defencemen out of position—the slot area wide open—and, just eight seconds into the second period, Paul Stastny buried the game's opening goal.
After that, the Senators were nothing but shards of the team they were in the first period. It genuinely felt like the most insurmountable 1-0 lead of all time. The Jets really didn't need the four extra goals they gleefully pumped into the Ottawa net.
And so it goes for the Senators; continuing to try and find their way, looking so good for long stretches, but unable to score goals. All the while, they go about their business, quietly dreading that inevitable moment of calamity (usually fashioned this year by shoddy goaltending) that rips their hearts out.
When that adversity happens, as it always does, all they have to fall back on is the large "fragile" banner they've mentally affixed above their bench.
By Steve Warne | Sens Nation Hockey