Hello customer service, yes I have a complaint. There appears to be something wrong with the Gonchar I purchased in July. I had seen the commercials of his play for years, and was certain I needed to have him, yet almost as soon as I bought him, it's been the exact opposite. He doesn't do what he was supposed to at all and I feel cheated. I guess what I'm asking is, can I get a refund please? The receipt, ummm no I don't have it, my senile grampa overapid for him and lost it, you know how it is. I don't know why we let him make decisions either, but it's hard to tell him he's overmatched at this point in my life.
Ok clearly I'm joking there, sort of, but the question remains, what happened to Sergei Gonchar? Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but where the hell is that guy who used to terrify me everytime he had the puck when he played the Sens? Perhaps he caught Kovalev disease? The symptoms are primarily killing the Sens when they were on another team, but not playing up that level once they put on the red. Yep, he's got it well bad.
When we signed him on July 1st, I was pretty excited. Not just because he had tortured us for years, but because I was impressed that we were able to land one of the top free agents in Ottawa. I started to pencil him in for 50+ points, and as a mentor to young Erik Karlsson. I thought this will really help out our puck movement out of our own end too, which was a huge problem last year.
When the regular season started, it sure looked weird to see Sergei in a Sens uni didn't it? His slow start didn't help any, but I was already making excuses for him. He's on a new team, new partners, it's just growing pains, he will get into his groove soon enough. He has to, he's been too good for too long. You just don't lose it overnight. Then he had a nice little point streak and everyone was back on board with the signing. Yep, this is what we had expected when we brought him on board. But it didn't last.
I don't think I'm exactly alone here when I say that I didn't think he was an amazing all around defenceman. I knew he was primarily offensive and I was fine with that. It was worth it to me to improve the offense from the back end, and I figured he'd be serviceable on the defensive side. I felt even better when his former GM, Ray Shero, said in an interview after we signed him that we will be surprised how good he is defensively and that we had gotten ourselves a hell of a player. That should have been my red flag right there. GM's don't let players they think that much of leave.
So none of us expected Gonchar to be Chara, but I had no idea how bad of a skater he was, or how poorly he would be defensively, or that his offensive numbers would only be a bit above average. In 34 games this year, he has 16 points, which is ok, but not what I had envisioned when I found out he would be a Sen. That point total ranks him 26th in the league amongst defenceman, but only at half of the league leader of 33. Not great, but not awful.
Where I'm truly stunned is his +/- total. Get ready to be shocked Sens fans. Out of the 753 skaters in the NHL this season, Sergei Gonchar ranks 752nd. No that is not a typo. He is 2nd last in the entire NHL in +/- at an incredible -22 through 34 games. So do the math for a second here, 16 +22 = 38, which means he has been on the ice for 38 goals against this year through 34 games. That is an insane stat. He is on the ice for more than a goal every single game this year. Unacceptable for a player of his caliber.
To make things worse, the league leader in +/- as I write this is a former Sen, Anrej Meszaros, who is at a +22 so far. Making matters even worse is that when we traded Meszaros, we got my least favorite player on the team back in Filip Kuba. Ladies and gentleman, Bryan Murray, the gift that keeps on giving.
So what happened to Gonchar? Is he past his prime? Is he adjusting to his new surrondings still? Is it the crappy defensive partners he's forced to play with? Probably a bit of all three. Let's just hope that he starts to play like the Gonchar of old and quickly, because we're nearly half way through the season and things are not looking pretty for the Sens. And unlike a Christmas gift, you can't return him, not even for store credit.
Thoughts on the struggles of Gonchar?