May 25th, 2024

Senators captain Tkachuk frustrated as Ottawa misses playoffs again

By Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press on April 18, 2024.

Senators captain Brady Tkachuk didn’t mince words when talking about Ottawa missing the NHL playoffs for a seventh straight season. Tkachuk tries to put the puck past Montreal Canadiens goaltender Cayden Primeau  during second period NHL action in Ottawa, Saturday, April 13, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Senators captain Brady Tkachuk didn’t mince words when talking about Ottawa missing the NHL playoffs for a seventh straight season.

“I’m sick and tired of losing,” Tkachuk said Thursday as the Senators cleaned out their lockers. “I don’t want to be going home in April anymore. It’s frustrating, (I’m) disappointed. At the end of the day just disappointing.”

The Senators (37-41-4) finished the season sitting 14th in the Eastern Conference and 13 points out of the playoffs.

Tkachuk said he went into the season with “high hopes,” and early on there was reason for optimism under new owner Michael Andlauer.

Things went off the rails quickly, resulting in the Senators parting ways with long time general manager Pierre Dorion in early November and firing head coach D.J. Smith six weeks later.

Tkachuk said the season took its toll on him mentally.

“There’s some days that weren’t fun,” he said. “And usually, every day in years past it’s always been fun to come to the rink but there’s moments this year where it was difficult kind of come in when things weren’t going so well.”

The Senators have a young nut experienced core. Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot have both played over 400 NHL games. Drake Batherson has played 309, while Tim Stutzle has 285 games under his belt and Jake Sanderson has 156.

But none have appeared in a single playoff game, let alone understand what it takes to get through a long playoff run. Aside from Claude Giroux there is little veteran leadership, and at times interim coach Jacques Martin spoke of the team’s immaturity.

“It’s important to have players who have won and have playoff experience,” Martin said. “However, I think the answer rests with the players in the room. There are some great players and they’re the ones who will help them night in and night out.”

Martin won’t be back behind the bench next season but is hopeful to return as a senior adviser.

The 71-year-old wouldn’t comment on what kind of coach Ottawa needs, but did say the team needs put an emphasis on details and learn how to better manage the game.

Throughout the course of the season inconsistency plagued the team. They would find ways to beat league-leading teams like Dallas and Vegas and then lose to bottom-dwellers Columbus and Chicago.

“At the end of the day it’s about making a commitment to playing the same way every night,” Chabot said. “As a team we know we have talent and we have good players, but at the end of the day it’s about being able to play the same game every night whether things are going well or not. It’s about finding a consistent way to perform.”

Chabot said the Senators need to emulate teams like Boston and Carolina that find a way to be in every game until the end.

A number of players credited Martin for holding the team accountable. Giroux said the Senators need to find ways to ride the waves of a game more effectively.

“Our game’s got to grow,” Giroux said. “We need to help each other better, play more as a team and it’s about being a pro. Whether it’s a goal against or goals for or a loss or a win, it doesn’t matter, you’ve just got to keep grinding and keep pushing forward.”

General manager Steve Staios will meet with media Friday. He has a lot of work ahead in addition to hiring a new head coach, including making a decision on where defenceman Jakob Chychrun fits into the team’s plans.

Chychrun said he hasn’t thought about his future with the Senators.

“It’s a tough question, I don’t know,” Chychrun said. “I honestly have not thought about that. I know I have one more year left (on my contract).

“There haven’t been talks of an extension or anything so I haven’t got my head wrapped around that idea. It’s tough to sit here and act like I have. Take it day-by-day and see if and when we have those talks and go from there.”

Notes: Tim Stutzle said he’s been dealing with a shoulder injury, while Chabot is also dealing with a few things”¦Tkachuk, Shane Pinto and Jake Sanderson will play for the United States at the world championships. Pinto, who is looking to sign a contract extension, will purchase additional insurance to play at the world championships if a new contract isn’t in place before he leaves.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2024.

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