EDITOR’S NOTE- Prior to his recent injury, there was a lot of talk about the play of Cody Ceci. And when I say a lot, I mean, like an unbelievable amount. It’s getting to the point that I can barely make it through any comment, positive or negative, that mentions his name.? Ceci has been out with an upper body injury but is expected to make his return sometime next week. So with that in mind, for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to share this latest ChirpEd. When the comment section goes off the rails, I’ll only have myself to blame. Oh and the NHL schedule makers for giving the Senators a few extra days off between games. Over to you RDB!
WRITTEN BY- Robertson Davies’ Beard
Sens fans and the struggling Cody Ceci share a common problem. It’s a simple problem, really. Cody Ceci is better than we think he is. The guy is a bonafide NHLer. In fact – and this will surprise many people – but there are only four other players from his draft year who have played more games than Ceci. Sure, it may be tough to swallow when you see him cough up the puck – but it’s true.
Which brings us to the scene in The Godfather where Don Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) stands at a meeting of the Five Families, his own family in tatters, and asks “ “How did things ever get so far?” With Ceci, the question is “How the hell did things ever get as bad as people think they are?”
More Time in the AHL?
When the Sens drafted local boy Ceci with the 15th pick overall in 2012, they made a safe if rather un-inspired pick. Sure enough – and faster than you can say “mmmmm local” – Ceci had graduated to full time NHLer status. Did he jump the queue over better players by virtue of being the first Ottawa born kid to be taken in the first round by the Sens? Could he have benefited from more time in the AHL? Should Craig Anderson ever be left alone with a chicken? Maybe. Yes. And, no. Never.
My theory is that Ceci’s problems started right at the beginning of his NHL career. Sens fans weren’t exactly clamouring for Ceci to be given a spot on the team when he first came up. Management wasn’t being pressured to fill seats with a home-grown kid. And the coaches didn’t need to drop a young Ceci into the lineup to save their jobs. Were expectations of him so great that he needed to be rushed? Was he really that promising?
If the decision to promote the occasionally overwhelmed Ceci was driven by a misguided sense that he’d somehow help sell more tickets to folks from Orleans – then today we are seeing the uglier long term impacts of that decision. If management (or fans) once expected that he would develop into a stud first pairing D, then it would appear that those expectations have flattened just a wee bit. A lot, actually.
The fact is that Ceci has never proven to be a legitimate offensive defencemen. He also hasn’t quite proven to be a legit shut down defender. Scrappy tough guy? No, that’s not Ceci either. In fact, he’s never been recorded as having an NHL scrap – which is an interesting fact on its own merit.
So how do we define Cody Ceci? At his best, he is Kuba-esque. At his worst, he might be the second coming of Brian Lee. Ceci, it must be said, is a conundrum.
The problem isn’t that Cody Ceci doesn’t know that he’s better than he has played so far. He must. But does he have the confidence to actually believe it? Can he prove it? Another issue of significance for him is that the most vocal of Sens fans have long since placed him at the top of their collective shit lists. That’s nothing new, of course, because Sens fans always have to have one player atop their list. What’s new, however, is that a lot of fans’ mockery of Ceci has extended into anger and animosity. This is not cool.
His Poise Lacks Poise
So what we were left with now is a player who, having been crushed in the press and on social media, is clearly struggling with no clear end in sight to his troubles. His confidence seems shattered. His poise lacks poise.
Cody Ceci is no Max Lajoie. But then again (digression alert!), La Joie was only a lowly 5th rounder and was forced to serve an AHL apprenticeship in Belleville last season under the lamentable Kurt Kleinendorst regime. Expectations for a kid like Lajoie were always going to be low.
Speaking of expectations, it’s time that Sens fans gave Ceci a break and drop our first rounder expectations of him to cut him some slack. Short of a major major development like a trade or an extended IR period, there seems to almost no way for Ceci to climb down from the peak of our collective Mount Shitlist. Actually, an extended IR period might be just the ticket. A room with a view, or at least a seat in the press box might do him AND cantankerous Sens fans well.
A Seat in the Press Box
The anti-Ceci faction hasn’t won the day yet. The surprising play of Lajoie, DeMelo and Ben Harpur(!) doesn’t have to spell and shouldn’t be the end for Ceci in Ottawa. Why? Or why not? Because it is pure folly to think that Pierre Dorion can turn this current version of Ceci into a rebuilding GM’s wet dream of an “A level” prospect and a 2019 or 2020 first rounder.
There is another route that doesn’t involve a trade of Ceci. Coach Guy Boucher should give the player all the time he needs to be ready to come back. When it’s time to put him back on the ice, put him on the third pairing and let him earn his way back up to the top of the lineup. Reduce the pressure. Reduce his time on ice – and let’s see if Cody Ceci can be a better player with fewer minutes and fewer expectations.
Sens fans have a role to play in this, too. Dropping a snark bomb on Mr. Ceci from a keyboard or in the stands is far too easy a thing for far too many. Our level of civil discourse is failing. Things are falling to a point beyond fair criticism to simple abuse. It’s unnecessary and unbecoming of many commenters.
Let’s be fans again. Let’s enjoy and celebrate the surprising start and the positive energy and the sheer joy that our Sens players are showing again. And hey, Ceci is a Sens player too. Let’s cheer him on when he gets back. It can’t hurt.
In fact, it might even help.
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