Dear Sens fans,
How about you shut up?
As you whine about the team's struggles and gnash your teeth about who "sucks" on the roster, you are part of the problem. As you call for the heads of the coach and general manager while they do a job most of you could not do better, you are part of the problem. And as you gleefully draft unrealistic players and magically sign the best free agents while cleverly trading all the dead weight in your fantasy rebuilding suggestions, you are part of the problem.
I understand negativity in a disheartening season. I understand the desire to see a winning team. There is nothing wrong with expressing frustration over a team that's not meeting the expectations they placed for themselves, much less their fans -- but that's where it has to end.
The NHL is a game of money, and don't let anyone tell you it's not. And did you, the ones with the money in your pockets, ever stop to think that you could be a factor in the Ottawa Senators' struggles in recent years?
Oh, sure, you were so excited to see the team after the Cup run... and then what? Watching them limp into the playoffs after that year sure changed your tune quickly. And attendance dropped even lower after they missed the playoffs in 2008-09. Despite a return to the postseason last year -- where it was a struggle to sell out then, too -- you couldn't sell out the home opener this year. A sad 16,270 of you bothered to show up at the second home game.
Yes, the message is clear: Sens fans won't tolerate a losing team. You can say you're ready to embrace the youthful prospects the team has waiting in the wings, but money talks. Spoiled by more than a decade of playoff appearances, you have an expectation of the team -- early franchise struggles be damned. To get your dollars, the Senators must be successful.
And so, what is an aging team to do when they know the window has closed for them? Sell what they can and start over? Not in Ottawa. You won't support it. From listening to Leafs fans boo our captain in our own rink and Habs fans sing "Ole" unimpeded to the pitiful showing at the Jason Spezza rally, your apathy is both shameful and legendary.
Don't think Eugene Melnyk hasn't noticed.
The NHL is a game of money. Melnyk knows it. There's at least some reason to believe him when he says the team needs to make it to the second round of the playoffs to break even. Or did you forget the circumstances that led to him owning the team? He's mocked for his rah-rah attitude and delusional optimism, but he has a product to sell. This team has to maintain the illusion that they're a Cup-contending or playoff team. Because if they don't, you don't show. This team has to go out and sign big name free agents. Because if they don't, you complain. This team has make an effort to win now. Because if they don't, you don't pay.
I am not advocating blind support of a losing team. Toronto has shown us that if you make money losing, there's no real urgency to win. As a fan, it is both your right and duty to criticize that which you don't like. But you need to show that same passion towards the team. That's the only way the franchise is going to return to the status quo you hold so dear.
Show some passion. It's that simple. Don't get outcheered in your own building. Start a "Go Sens Go" chant when they're losing and need some energy. Show the team that we care about them, and they will reward us with what we want to see. They've already proven they want to win. It's up to you to support them in that quest.
And if you don't, the next rally you choose not to attend will probably be the one to keep them in the city.