Former NHLer Marc Methot talks about wrong with the Ottawa Senators

Article content

Longtime NHL player Marc Methot tells it like it is.

Advertisement 2

Article content

An NHL defenceman from 2006-19 (including five years with his home-town Ottawa Senators), Methot has settled nicely into a job as a TSN hockey analyst.

Article content

He’s comfortable in his role, speaking about the positives, but also pulling no punches with his criticism – on air and in social media (his X handle is @MarcMethot3).

Here’s a Q and A with Methot.

Q: There was a lot of hope, a lot of hype, so what’s gone wrong with the Ottawa Senators this season?

A: “The expectation level was high, people were were fired up. We tend to get carried away when we analyze our own team. A lot of us expected them to at least be in the playoff conversation. You had some injury issues, you had inconsistent goaltending. (After taking over from D.J. Smith), Jacques (Martin) has done a good job holding guys more accountable, with (forwards) tracking back into the (defensive) zone. That’s made a big difference in their play. They’re still laying an egg here and there and that’s what people are trying to wrap their minds around. This team is a little further behind from where I anticipated they’d be. This is a big summer coming up. They need to address a few key areas.”

Advertisement 3

Article content

Q: Why are they this far out of the playoff picture?

A: “From a lineup management perspective as far as where players slot, it was a bit of a mess. You bring in (Jakob) Chychrun – I love the player.. He’s a really good guy, a really good player. But they don’t really have any (right-shot defencemen). And they’ve got a really underwhelming third (defence) pairing from all those guys that have rotated in and out. A lack of depth would be probably be the best way to put it – not just on the back end, but up front, too. They need more veteran leadership, they need another good 200-foot player that’s been in the league for awhile.”

Q: Would more veteran leadership really fix things?

A: “It’s a long season for young players. You need to insulate your lineup with good quality veterans and I’m not talking about going out and having to find three or four guys. It just takes a couple. As an example, one of the main guys they’re leaning on is Claude Giroux. You’ve got Brady (Tkachuk), I know he’s got the captaincy, but he’s still a relatively young player. He hasn’t won yet. You need guys that have been there, done that. The season is taxing on the body and on the mind. When you’ve got a very young group, like the Sens do, I’m not that surprised they’ve struggled as much as they have.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

Q: How extensive do your off-season changes need to be?

A: “With a few minor tweaks, they will break out. It’s inevitable with all that talent. More maturity will come and you’ll see the team naturally take a step forward. Factor in adding a couple of good, quality veteran guys. They need veteran help on the back end, too. Maybe you buy out a goaltender in the summer. But goalies are difficult to find; they’re not just around the corner waiting to get plucked.”

Q: How much does it deflate you if your goalie is allowing bad goals?

A: “The odd (bad goal), you can accept It’s going to happen. A goalie can’t stand on his head every night. (Ottawa’s goalies have) been inconsistent. (Joonas) Korpisalso will make some incredible saves, but then he lets in an untimely goal. You lose momentum. When you’re preparing for a game and all you can think about is – ‘Oh, boy, what version of our goaltender are we getting tonight’ – that’s a big hurdle. If you don’t get (good goaltending), you’re not making the post-season. And if you do make (the playoffs) – we’ve seen it in Toronto – you don’t get anywhere. It’s the most important position on your team. This team needs a proven guy you can rely on immediately. It might be Korpisalo. Maybe things change for the better if the lineup improves … but the current recipe isn’t working.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

Q: Who was a goalie you played in front of where you didn’t worry about what was happening behind you?

A: “That was Craig Anderson. Was he a Hall of Fame goaltender? No. But he was an excellent goaltender by NHL standards. You have to know you have a competent goaltender behind you, where not only is he stopping pucks, but he’s directing traffic, he’s calling out plays. He’s communicating everything to us. It was almost like having a third defenceman at times. When I look at a goalie, do they rise to the occasion when the games matter? When there’s a lot of pressure and you’re sitting back there alone between the pipes, can you do the job? Andy really kind of captured that.”

Q: It’s looked at times like the Senators are trying to squeeze square pegs into round holes with their lineup. How important is the right mix?

Advertisement 6

Article content

A: “Slotting is everything. Look at the best teams in the NHL. I’m not faulting (former Senators GM) Pierre (Dorion), who’s a bit of a polarizing figure. (Vladimir) Tarasenko was a fancy name. To be fair, I thought Tarasenko had a pretty good year for what you brought him in to do. But we didn’t need that. There was plenty of scoring already here. The power play was Top 5 for a lot of last year. That tells me you didn’t necessarily need (Tarasenko). You lose (Alex) DeBrincat. But you’re hoping for maturity out of your core guys. It’s having the right guy and to me, I would have valued much more a 200-foot guy, a good two-way forward that can play at both ends.”

Q: What do you do about your defence, do you have to decide between keeping Jakob Chychrun or Thomas Chabot?

Advertisement 7

Article content

A: “That’s a very difficult decision for (GM Steve) Staios to make. Chabby has got that smooth stride coming out of the zone. The tradeoff, he doesn’t have the same shot Chychun does. Chychrun, I would argue, is probably better defensively, he’s got a bit more strength and he’s got a very good stick when he’s waving the wand around looking to cut off passes. Between (Jake) Sanderson, Chychrun and Chabby, do you need all three of them? Maybe you make a move to bring in a more meat-and-potatoes guy.

“If you asked me who do you move, honestly, I don’t  know. I love Chabby. I love his attitude. Chychrun has that big shot. You have to be willing to listen when GMs are calling and they’re curious to see what’s available. Who are the guys that are your untouchables? Up front, there’s got to be less than a handful of them. And then on the back end, it’s Sanderson. You rely on your scouting, you rely on your intuition, you have internal discussions, you find your targets and you go for them. The teams that are willing to be bold are the teams that usually take that step forward. And you have to hit the lottery once in a while.”

Advertisement 8

Article content

Q: So, we’re not talking a total rebuild, we’re talking about trading for players that can help the team now?

A: “I got traded from Columbus for Nick Foligno. It was a hockey trade – a player for a player. It worked out well for both of us. Nick ended up being the captain (in Columbus) and I ended up playing with Erik (Karlsson). I was a Top 4 D man when I was (in Columbus), and they moved me. I didn’t see it coming. My point is, sometimes you have to get uncomfortable to make a trade. You’re not going to fleece anybody, you’re going to have to give something up. If you can identify what you need to fix, maybe you have to make an uncomfortable trade. It might be a good locker-room guy, but that’s how you turn a team around and start winning games.”

Advertisement 9

Article content

Q: What has to happen for this team to get back to the post-season?

A: “The beauty of missing the playoffs is you can train like an animal in the off-season and address all your aches and pains, you can get stronger. You have to use that as an advantage and you have to be disciplined. This core group will have been together for a good amount of seasons, that’ll be a big deal. As a player, etch in your memory what it feels like to lose the way they have. It’s sucks. It’s embarrassing when you go out in public, your head is down. You have to deal with hard questions from fans and media. That in itself is motivation to improve.”

Q: The team will have a new head coach next season? Who’s the right guy for the job?

A: “I thought it was Patrick Roy, that was who I was pushing for. They need a guy who can hold players accountable. And they need a guy that has job security. You want a guy that isn’t shy to sit Brady Tkachuk or Tim Stutzle or Jake Sanderson because they’re not playing well over a period of time.”

Advertisement 10

Article content

Q: You’re active on social media, you’ve suggested the players be careful with what they post.

A: “All I’m saying is when things don’t go well, maybe it isn’t the best look to post a picture from a beach in the Bahamas less than a week after the regular season. It sends the wrong message to the fan base. Players are free to do whatever they want. I’m free to criticize that if I feel it’s warranted. During the summer, I would put the focus toward showing I’m dedicated. What do you have to gain by posting a picture of you drinking beers on the golf course? The players should be able to live their lives. But you are under the public eye. It is your responsibility to represent this hockey team. And when you’ve had an absolutely abysmal season and you’ve missed the playoffs again, you have to be aware of the messaging and the optics.”

Advertisement 11

Article content

Q: You’re not shy about speaking out, criticizing when necessary. Why?

A: “I told myself if I was going to get into the media world, I was going to be fully transparent. I’m going to speak my mind. It’s not like I’m carving up players. If I see something I don’t like, I’m going to call it out. I’ll make it a point to highlight something positive as well. I had a very difficult time with that when I was a year or two removed from the game because there were still a ton of players I’d played with or against. I almost felt kind of dirty. But now that it’s been five years, there’s a lot of turnover in the NHL. I don’t know these guys, they’re not my friends. Why wouldn’t I speak my mind and open up? They do it with the NFL. You see the NBA guys on panels do it. I don’t see why we can’t show more personality as analysts with the NHL. If you don’t want to get attacked or criticized, play better.”

Q: What are you up to?

A: “Coaching. My son (Jack) is busy with hockey (Osgoode, U7) so I’m learning how to manage six- and seven-year-olds. I’m loving every minute of it. I love giving back. I get people approaching me when I’m out. I have time for everybody. I love it. I find it flattering people are still interested in wanting to talk to me about hockey.”

Recommended from Editorial

Article content