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Are The Kids Alright?

Over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about how the Ottawa Senators’ promotional campaign, “The Kids Are Alright,” isn’t really applicable to this year’s squad after all.  With the Sens getting ready for Arizona tonight, it’s time somebody went down and checked on the kids – just to be sure they are, in fact, alright.

“The Kids Are Alright” is, of course, a classic rock tune by The Who that recently made a small comeback on TV in the title of an ABC sitcom.  The Sens’ promo team jumped on the name, even using the song in its commercials and highlight reels, presumably to illustrate how their new season will be all about the kids.

The first time we saw this campaign was near the start of training camp and, at that time, you had NHL hopefuls like Logan Brown, Drake Batherson, Filip Chlapik, Alex Formenton, Max Lajoie, Christian Jaros, Josh Norris, Max Veronneau, Nick Paul, Jonathan Davidsson, and Vitaly Abramov.  It felt like any one of them had at least a chance to make the team.

Fast forward to today, the first thing you notice about these kids is how spectacularly absent they are.  It’s like the kids have been given a time out.

Batherson and Chlapik both made the team out of camp but both were sent to Belleville after the team had played just two games.  At that stage, Abramov got the callup. He was also given a robust two-game audition before he was sent packing, back to Belleville. All the other kids mentioned above failed to make it out of training camp, including Jaros and Lajoie who both played the majority of the 2018-19 season in Ottawa.

Brown, Batherson, and Paul are doing what they did at the end of last season and that’s ripping up the American Hockey League.  They combined for a smooth 13 points in the first 3 games. In a perfect world, where cap floors and stupid contracts don’t exist, those three would be getting a nice long test drive in the NHL right now, replacing the fading veterans – especially since this was so heavily promoted as the kids’ zone.  Perhaps that trio would even remain linemates in the show and have a go at recreating their crazy-successful AHL formula.

A nice spinoff from that would be opening up more big minutes for other key prospects in Belleville.  It’s hard to imagine, but that might actually be an issue for the B-Sens this season – too many good, young prospects looking for big minutes in the minors when there simply aren’t enough to go around.  Young players need and crave those minutes, crucial to proper development.  Remarkably, Veronneau and Davidsson have already been healthy scratches in Belleville.

If finding enough key minutes for everyone is an issue, it should eventually work itself out.  The Sens likely plan to eject some veterans at the deadline, restoring balance, allowing more kids to take over.  One way or another, the cream always rises, and Belleville – the home of Reid’s Dairy (where you get delicious servings of ice cream cones as big as your head) is a good spot to be.

Make no mistake, the Sens’ “Kids Are Alright” campaign remains fully applicable for this season, thanks to guys like Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot who’ve been far more than alright.  There just isn’t the number of kids we expected. Not yet, anyway. That’ll probably start next season when the Sens fully embrace becoming kid-friendly.

Maybe they can recycle the marketing slogan then. Or maybe, as ABC did with their sitcom, they’ll just cancel “The Kids Are Alright” after one season and do something else.