Heard much about his chances of making the Ottawa Senators this season? Me neither.
This despite the fact he’s a Calder Cup champion, reigning AHL MVP and the leading scorer in a league one slot down from the big league. Oh, and he’s also 27 years old, in the middle of his prime.
Here’s what Locke had to say in a story over at NHL.com about his chances of earning a promotion this season:
“I’m hoping for an opportunity and that’s what I would really like: a fair opportunity. Obviously I don’t expect it to just be handed to me. I know I have to earn it. At the same time, I think I’ve done well, producing and doing everything the coaching staff has asked me at every level to put me in a position to get that opportunity.”
And that’s what Locke has to cling to right now. Hope. Because in spite of all his accomplishments, he hasn’t really gotten a fair opportunity with this team. Locke had a cup of coffee with the big club last season, but then-coach Cory Clouston inexplicably parked him on the bottom two lines and limited his ice time to 5:02 at the low end and a peak of 12:21 in five games here. Locke had one assist in that span.
Did the team really expect to get a good look at a player who is 5’9 and 175 lbs. by playing him on grind lines?
Had Locke played premium minutes with decent linemates and blown it, you might be able to say, ‘ah, couldn’t handle it.’ But it’s hard to get a read on a player so far out of his element.
The supposed knock on Locke is that he doesn’t have NHL wheels, and that’s a pretty big knock in a league that so covets speed. There’s something there though — you don’t lead the second-best league in North America in scoring without the hockey sense and cleverness to overcome some of your shortcomings (no pun intended).
Maybe, with a new coach in town, Locke will get a fair shake. Working in his favour is the fact the Senators don’t really have a lot of scintillating centres to work with.
More likely though — he’ll get parked in the minors for yet another season. Locke has been flagged as an AHLer who would have made it already if he was every going to. And that’s a shame.
At least he’ll be able to look across the locker room at Matt Carkner and believe his dream is still possible, however.
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For more on another guy who will be fighting to make the Senators this season, Erik Condra, read this story. Hilarious tidbit — the AHL ships the Calder Cup to players for their ‘day with the Cup.’ Piece of advice: UPS might be cheap, but you get what you pay for.
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Ottawa Senators first round pick Stefan Noesen finished second in training camp scoring for the Plymouth Whalers. For an audio interview with Noesen on the upcoming season and his chances of making the US WJC team,
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In case you missed it in the Citizen this weekend, Mark Sutcliffe had a nice piece on Cyril Leeder and how nimble the Senators’ marketing staff had to be last season when players were getting shipped out left and right. There’s an important lesson here for NHL hockey franchises — fans are much more sophisticated than they used to be when it comes to rebuilds, trades and business. If you’re up front with them and make a convincing case, they’ll get behind you.