Remember February? Remember the organizational turmoil and Erik Karlsson trade rumours? “Could this get any worse?” we asked ourselves. “Yes”, apparently is the answer. Not only have we not hit rock bottom, but rock bottom isn’t even in sight as the news out of Kanata keeps plumbing new depths of awful like one of those Youtube videos that just keeps zooming in on a piece of a fractal.
The common factor of across the stories is a complete lack of leadership at the top of the organization. A decisive org would have nipped any Karlsson trade rumours in the bud before they had a chance to turn into a circus. A decisive org would have also put Randy Lee on leave after his arrest. Maybe this is just my delicate sensibilities talking, but I don’t feel like ALLEGEDLY grabbing a person while making comments about your genitals while on a work trip is the sort of thing that should be ignored by the organization you were representing at the time. Not only is Randy Lee not on leave, the Senators haven’t even had the good sense to act embarrassed by the whole thing, instead hiring The Official Lawyer of Scumbag Celebrities. Being embarrassed, apparently, is left to the fans. (Ed. Note: three minutes after publishing this, Pierre Dorion announced Randy Lee had been suspended pending the outcome of his trial.)
I have little to say about the campaign of cyber-bullying ALLEGEDLY carried out by Mike Hoffman’s finance, Monika Caryk, against Erik and Melinda Karlsson other than to say that it’s horrifying. To be honest, I’m not completely sure what the Senators should have done after finding out about the harassment, but I don’t think letting Hoffman and Karlsson handle it themselves was the correct answer.
So yeah, things are extremely messed up and the reasons why are pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention even slightly. However, the mess that is the Ottawa Senators has now drawn a crowd, and the crowd is not always paying attention even slightly.
With this sudden infamy come The Takes.
Oh how I loathe The Takes.
How I loathe the drive-by opinioning by media scrubs who would rather fart out any half-baked take than try to be thoughtful, because fuck it, it’s just the internet.
How I loathe the presumption that whatever said media scrubs have to say will be edifying to, not only the public, but to Sens fans in general as if we’re not all intimately acquainted with what the real problem is in Ottawa.
To wit, here’s some garbage from Dave Lozo, who submitted a bold “Might as well just move the team” take yesterday afternoon.
Some choice cuts:
A National Hockey League team in Ottawa. It was a fun experiment. We had a lot of good times. Well, a few good times. Actually, I’m sure a good time occurred even though I can’t pinpoint a specific moment. That time Damian Rhodes bleached his hair, maybe? But maybe it’s time to say goodbye. It’s the best thing for everyone.
Strong move coming out of the gate with as dickish a dismissal as possible of both the franchise’s existence and (modest) success. Let’s see you write the same paragraph about the Florida Panthers, coward.
Sometimes when you love something, you have to let it die so everyone can move forward with their lives. The situation commonly manifests itself in the form of a terminally ill grandparent, an extremely old pet or anything since season three of Arrested Development.
Incredibly topical reference, dude.
Fighting to keep the Ottawa Senators alive is selfish. They can’t go on living like this, if you can call this living. If you really care about their happiness, you will sign the papers, kiss them on the forehead and stand outside the room as Gary Bettman grants them the sweet release of eternity.
Don’t you think that seems a little drastic? If only there were some second option that would allow the team to remove the parts of the management structure that are plaguing it without having Gary Bettman handle a lethal injection. Some sort of legal transfer of ownership, perhaps? 🤔🤔🤔🤔
And this is all during and after a 67-point season with attendance plummeting to its lowest levels since 1996-97, a sign fans already had enough. If you look inside your heart, Senators fans, you know what needs to be done; you just need the courage to do it.
Why does this guy want me to Old Yeller my own hockey team? (see, THAT’S how you do a topical reference)
That leaves likely offer sheet target Mark Stone and pending unrestricted free agent Matt Duchene counting down the days until they are no longer Senators. Yeah, offer sheets are about as rare as sell-out crowds in Ottawa, but you have to believe Stone is telling his agent to whisper into teams’ ears that he’d be happy to sign one to escape Ottawa.
How is this idea still a thing? What offer sheet is Mark Stone going to sign that Ottawa won’t match? As if the only thing Ottawa can offer at this time is three sticks of gum and it’s only going to take $7MM and some draft picks to pry Stone out of Ottawa. Eugene Melnyk may be hurting financially, but Ottawa has a long and established history of paying players what they’re worth at this point. They can’t pay them all, but they pay the ones they keep.
But guess what! Travis Yost posted a story Thursday afternoon that makes the case that the Senators may have their very own renegade Twitter account being run by someone inside the organization.
Oh you mean the account that’s run by a random crank from the Dobber Hockey boards? Great research skills ya got there, you hack.
Some of this isn’t the organization’s fault but so much of it starts at the top with Melnyk, and if he’s there in perpetuity, why should fans expect anything to change?
Finally something sensible.
And if by some miracle the Senators do everything right in the coming weeks and months with their image issues, they still must trade their best defenseman and arguably their best forward. If Melnyk was hemorrhaging money and strapped with immense debt before this season, how does that get better a year from now? Why would he want to continue sinking money into an unprofitable team?
Lozo comes so agonizingly close to cogent analysis here. Indeed, it seems increasingly more unlikely that Melnyk will be willing or able to float a team whose operational losses continue to mount as fans check out. One of the reasons I have not been a particularly vocal supporter of the #MelnykOut movement was due to my private belief that if one wants Eugene Melnyk to sell the Senators, all you have to do is wait.
Back to the nonsense at hand. Having established that
1. Melnyk selling is the only way forward.
2. Melnyk cannot sustain operational losses indefinitely
Lozo then goes on to ignore these facts entirely to get back to his original thesis: it’s good if the Ottawa Senators relocate.
But if Melnyk won’t go, death is the best option. You don’t owe Melnyk anything. You are not obligated to dedicate your time, money, and sanity to something that so clearly doesn’t care about you or icing the best possible team. Find your way to the acceptance stage. Let the Senators go. Houston. Quebec. Kansas City. There are worse things that can happen to a fan than a team relocating.
This guy has such an obsession with killing the Senators that he ignores the logic of his previous 3 paragraphs and just invents a universe where it’s good and logical that Sens fans are forced to go without hockey. Never mind the fact that relocation is a drastic step that Bettman would almost certainly never allow. Never mind that the Carolinas and Arizonas of the world appear set to enjoy hockey in perpetuity regardless of transient market pressures. The Senators will have to move because, well, the owner is a huge wad. You know, that’s why the Los Angeles Clippers moved. And why the existence of Harold Ballard forced the relocation of the Toronto Maple Leafs. And why the only way to save New York basketball from James Dolan is by moving the Knicks. This is analysis by and for clowns. It should be ignored with extreme prejudice, except for when it should be mercilessly skewered and mocked.
In conclusion, the Ottawa has an NHL franchise essentially by accident. We should cling to it tightly, even as we temporarily wave goodbye to our emotional and monetary investment during these troubled times. I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose a battle of wills to Eugene Melnyk. My will is endless, and his bank account is extremely not.
Luke, just wanted to say, in a time when it only makes sense to take a step back from Sens fandom, I still appreciate your takes and your writing. I hope you and the rest of the WTYKY team manage to continue to find the energy to keep caring enough to keep writing.
I don’t think you should read so much into the NHL analysis on Vice Sports – it was clearly a sarcastically hyperbolic take, crafted to generate clicks on a site whose readership is generally not that interested in sports, especially hockey, especially the Ottawa Senators. The article absolutely correctly identifies Melnyk as the root of the rot in the organization, and then facetiously suggests a highly unlikely solution which also happens to perfectly tickle the schadenfreude of the team’s largely-indifferent rival with the largest fanbase in the world…
And the Damian Rhodes reference was legitimately hilarious. I was surprised he never mentioned Yashin or Daigle in his reasons for giving up on this poor franchise once and for all…
I survived Rundblad leaving so I will survive this.
Deep down, so will we all and this forum will change its name, Adnan will get season tickets and so will others. We are super emotive but, like our citymates, too lazy to give a fuck and stop our routines.
Your last line is gold, and it gives me hope. Thank you!
I’m late to the party I know, but these are the Sens we’re talking about and very little has changed in the last two months. Well except for the fact that Euge came out and announced plans to build a new downtown arena WITHOUT a cent of public money. Something Edmo couldn’t do. Something Calgary won’t be able to do.
And to see Euge and Jimbo Watsisname all cuddly cute together was great PR!!! Except nobody saw it.
This is why owners should never be involved in the day to day running of their teams. They’re too close emotionally. There have been a lot of positive developments this summer, all of which have been ignored or twisted out of recognition and spewed back in the most negative way possible by the media at large. While the media keeps beating out an ‘Ottawa is a tire fire’ narrative the organization does practically SFA to set the record straight and Sens fans are left to figure out what’s really going on all by themselves.
My own personal belief is that EK re-signing in Ottawa is not quite the impossibility it looked like a couple months ago. For one thing, I don’t get the impression Pierre Dorion is a stupid man. Why would he have gone to such great lengths to pry Duchene out of Colorado if he had the slightest suspicion the engine was about to be ripped out of the whole machine? Answer: he wouldn’t.
Something obviously went very tits up viz-a-vis Karlsson’s relationship with the Sens organization. Maybe that was the Hoffman deal. Maybe it was Melnyk being Melnykian at the worst possible moments. Maybe it was Alfie whispering in EK’s ear that he could help force Euge to sell the team. Whatever, something changed. Things looked bad. Terrible type bad.
Now things look better. Melnyk’s back on the pills and feeling better. The team has a future in Ottawa with a brand spanking new downtown arena and a boatload of exciting prospects.
So is it so inconceivable that Karlsson has cooled down, re-assessed his future in Ottawa, and more importantly, Melnyk’s future in Ottawa, and decided he might be able to live with it after all?
I think the longer this silence continues the more possible it becomes.
So why am I still seeing and hearing nothing but negative spin from the media? Why isn’t the team getting the message out and reassuring fans that the future in Ottawa is solid?
Because Euge…that’s why.
Step back. Let someone else deal with it. Someone who knows what they’re doing. Please.