No fan base deserves what is going on in Ottawa right now, but there may be no owner in professional sports who deserves it more than good ol’ Eugene.
That’s why it’s hard to gauge exactly how to react to this tire-fire blazing its way through the Nation’s Capital at the moment, especially for a Maple Leafs fan base which generally despises the Senators organization, but has also felt its pain time and time again over the past 50-plus years.
The Senators inept management group, consisting of owner Eugene Melnyk playing the role of puppeteer and general manager Pierre Dorion, naturally, the Pinocchio to his Geppetto, continues to somehow make this Senators team worse while actually trying (I think?) to make it better — they simply keep butchering every move they make. The organization’s latest shit-bomb exploded on Wednesday when, like 12 minutes after flipping controversial (but talented) forward Mike Hoffman to the San Jose Sharks for a bag of orange sponge pucks, Sharks GM Doug Wilson showed the Sens what they actually could have received for the perennial 25-goal scorer, which turned out to be a few draft picks and a bunch of saved cap space.
Of course, right after Dorion got fleeced by that savage Wilson, Hockey Twitter teed off on the organization that, for some strange-ass reason, refused to trade Hoffman within their division in order to maximize the value of its second most valuable asset.
This ‘no trading in your own division’ stuff is certifiably insane. The Senators are going to stink for the duration of Hoffman’s contract regardless. Maybe worry less about other teams, and worry more about improving your own team, which you clearly haven’t done enough of.
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) June 19, 2018
The “I won’t trade in my own division as I don’t want to improve my rivals” mentality is akin to Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants who feud with their competition.
Worry about yourself! If you obsess over your rival instead, you aren’t gonna win.
— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) June 20, 2018
Dorion not wanting to trade Hoffman to Florida in the first place because they are in the same division sure seems silly now. Doug Wilson and Dale Talon playing chess while Dorion plays checkers. Player ends up in the division anyway and you got less value on top of that. Yikes.
— Patrick O'Sullivan (@realPOSULLIVAN) June 19, 2018
Straight up, the Sharks' involvement in the Hoffman trade is one of the biggest gamesmanship swindles in hockey history. There was no logical reason for them to be involved in the deal and they did literally nothing but dump a contract they didn't want and get free draft picks.
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) June 19, 2018
Even simply getting rid of a player they couldn’t have around the team anymore turned into an absolute circus, and it’s just the latest in a very bad year for the Senators. Many of these issues were self-induced, while some were a result of circumstance and misfortune.
Either way, shit is sour in the Nation’s Capital right now, and it has been going south in a hurry for the better part of a year since the Senators came within one game of reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. a monumental fall from grace that has Maple Leafs fans both laughing their collective asses off at the dumpster fire tearing through the only other Ontario-based organization in the NHL, while feeling sad over the fact that this once-great rivalry is all but dead.
As I summed up in a recent post for Yahoo Sports, here’s how the last year has gone in Ottawa — in case you’ve forgotten:
June 2018 — The Randy Lee Fiasco. It was announced through his attorney Tuesday that assistant general manager Randy Lee is set to miss at least part of next week’s NHL Entry Draft because has to be in court to defend a charges stemming from an incident in which he allegedly made sexual comments and rubbed the shoulders of a 19-year-old male shuttle bus driver at the pre-draft scouting combine a couple weeks ago in Buffalo. Lee has pleaded not guilty to second-degree harassment and sees his status within the organization “unchanged” as the upper management “reviews the situation.”
May 2018 — Hoffman-Karlsson situation. The most recent stench-ridden saga surrounding the Sens was brought to the forefront last week when it leaked that Melinda Karlsson, wife of Erik, filed an order of protection against the girlfriend of teammate Mike Hoffman back on May 4, alleging she lead a torturous harassment campaign against the Karlsson family following the death of their newborn son last season.
April 2018 — Melnyk’s Desperate Town Halls. After a tumultuous few months in Ottawa, owner Eugene Melnyk and GM Pierre Dorion held several “Town Hall” style meetings with the intent of smoothing over tensions with season ticket holders. After blaming the media for misconstruing his words when he made threats to move the team in December, Melnyk along with Dorion insinuated that long-time Senators captain and Ottawa legend Daniel Alfredsson wanted to leave and go to Detroit in 2013 as a UFA. Naturally, Melnyk was booed into oblivion by almost everyone in attendance as the battle between owner and fans hit a boiling point.
February 2018 — Anselmi Out, Melnyk In. After just over a year at the helm, former MLSE head Tom Anselmi and the Senators “parted ways,” but it’s obvious that Melnyk forced him out as the owner named himself CEO of his own franchise and moved from Barbados to Ottawa just days after the separation. Anselmi was brought in to oversee the arena development project at LeBreton Flats and to help with falling ticket sales. It didn’t work out, to say the least, as the team tarped off 1,500 seats at the Canadian Tire Centre prior to the season, lowering capacity to just over 17,000.
Early 2018 — the Erik Karlsson Thing. Despite being the team’s captain and one of the greatest in franchise history over his nine seasons in the Nation’s Capital, it became clear that Karlsson would not be staying in Ottawa for much longer despite his constant praise and displays of affection for the city. After Melnyk and Co. asked the all-world blueliner for his no-trade list ahead of the deadline, Karlsson did his best to assist in making a deal happen, but one never came to fruition. It’s looking like Karlsson’s name will go down beside Alfredsson and Jason Spezza as Top 5 franchise players who saw their time in Ottawa end in controversial fashion.
Also, with Erik Karlsson all-but-certainly on his way out this summer, the team is set to ice its worst roster on paper in years and, with the Senators expected to finish near the basement of the NHL standings next season, they have no first round pick after flipping it in the Matt Duchene deal last year.
It’s so damn sad to see a once prominent, small-market organization like the Senators — one that has had such close competitive ties to the Maple Leafs over the years — blow itself up like this on and off the ice without any immediate relief anywhere in sight.
But, for a fan base that hasn’t tasted a Stanley Cup final since basically the 1800’s, seeing their rivals suffer like this is pretty damn hilarious, too.