If you have a working Twitter account, you’ll have noticed that the Senators organization rolled out Whe Welcome Wagon for social media folk and traditional media alike yesterday. The Sens wanted to showcase the new renovations that have been made to the Canadian Tire Centre. The CTC now has more Tim Hortons, food by Farm Boy, and you can now put your poutine in a wrap/burrito in what must surely be an affront to both God and nature. Poutine is not a sandwich; that’s one of The Ten Commandments. There was also some discussion of the “Enhanced security measures” which are most likely to solve a problem that never existed at a cost to some fans who will now feel even more uneasy attending games, but that’s a story for another time1. These renovations and additions come fresh on the heels of parking lot paving, new lighting systems, and a new jumbotron.
The Sens have been remarkably consistent with infrastructure improvement rollouts for the past few seasons. Whether it’s the new lights, or the parking lot paving, or TV screens in the concourse, the improvements are always modest, announced with a press release, and then mocked a bit on The Twitters because “Haha, who announces a new television outside of section 316? That’s classic small town Sens doing small time stuff!”. I will admit to my own culpability in maintaining this pattern, but I only tease because I love2.
On the real though, I’m inclined to let the Sens talk up their sexy new box seats as much as they damn well please. It was only a few season ago that there was a prominent blogger who was going hard in the paint regarding Eugene Melnyk’s finances and the overall fiscal health of the Senators organization in general. When you consider how much these financial concerns have rooted themselves in the consciousness of the fanbase, one can hardly blame the org for hitting the general public with a soft #actually every time they invest money into the off-ice product. Whenever I read a Senators press release that says something like “Parking Lot 6 is being paved”, I interpret that as the Sens saying “Oh really? Would a broke organization do THIS? *makes it rain all over a pavement roller*“.
In light of this, I think it’s time to stop thinking of the Senators as a Budget Team, and time to start thinking of them as A Team with A Budget. While still in the bottom half of spending league-wide, the Sens now spend more money on salaries than five (5) teams, and are closer to the salary cap then they are to the cap floor. They are not a cap team and they don’t look like they’ll even try to be a cap team for the foreseeable future. However, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to stop looking at every single hockey personnel decision from the perspective of The Almighty Internal Budget. Every time a prospect signs a contract that could have been worth more money, there’s always a reaction that’s something like “Sens are lowballing their prospects again. Hope the fact they cheaped out because of the budget doesn’t cost them later.” Every time a team that is not the Sens makes a trade, there’s always a reaction along the lines of “Sens probably didn’t have the money to make the Boychuck/Saad/Hamilton/Sharp trade work, so they didn’t go for it.”
To this I say “Gotta hear both sides”. Hell, the Sens spent $15MM on renovations this summer alone! That’s like 2.3 Erik Karlssons (or 2 Bobby Ryans, if you prefer). Little improvements to The Gameday Experience show that the Senators are probably not incredibly tight against their operating budget unless you genuinely think Paul Maclean’s contract getting picked up by Anaheim was the difference between Lot 9 getting paved or not.
All this to say that if you enjoy griping about the Sens personnel decisions, please continue. Second guessing professionals is one of my favourite pastimes. I do it all the time on airplanes and in hospitals. Just keep in mind that it’s getting harder and harder to argue that money is the predominant driving factor behind why the Sens didn’t trade for Nick Leddy or offer Mike Hoffman more money.
If management screws this up, it’s gonna be because who they put on the ice, not because of what’s in the corporate bank account.
1. I’m aware that the Sens likely had no choice in whether or not to adopt this league wide protocol. I still think it’s bad for everyone. The Sens have to invest money to solve a non-existent security problem, the CTC’s ingress will become more congested than it already was due to the increased time it will take to get through screening, and a number of already marginalized fans will be forced through even more hoops in order to watch the team they love. Please read Andrew’s post for his thoughts on this matter. These security measures are a net loss any way you slice it. That is all I have to say on this.↩
2. I swear this is the reason.↩