I love the Ottawa Senators. When you love someone, you’re honest with them, as hard as that may be.
That’s what this is for me. It is a passion project. I’m very lucky to be able to translate my voice and skills as a writer to something I care so much about.
When things are good, I’ll be with you in joyous celebration.
When they’re not, I’ll be the first one to speak up.
In my short time as a contributor at Silver Seven Sens, I’ve penned two pieces that have generated a fair bit of attention.
My first was an optimistic op-ed entitled “This is What Hockey is About”. It was meant to lift the spirits of Sens fans in the dark days of June, when things were seemingly getting bleaker and bleaker. It attracted 11 comments, but people seemed to like the positive sentiment.
My second opinion piece was called “Senators Take Coward’s Way Out on Karlsson”. It was an admittedly scathing indictment of the Melnyk/Dorion regime, criticizing them for their handling of the Karlsson contract negotiation, and treating fans as if they were stupid enough to believe Ottawa gave the captain an offer in good faith with the intention of re-signing him.
225 comments, a ton of shares on social media, and wow. A lot of you agreed, a lot of you disagreed. I’ve never been so upset about being right.
Make no mistake, this piece isn’t going to be me shouting down from my high horse and proclaiming myself Nostradamus. Far from it. In fact, this was something I’ve never wanted to write.
This is the last straw, the camel is lying in the sand with a broken back because here we are. The unthinkable is now our reality.
Erik Karlsson has been traded.
A year ago, our hero was soaring high. Inspiring us and leading us into a future where the streets were lined with gold.
But like any Shakespearean tragedy, things came crashing down to Earth in a spectacular nosedive.
The King is dead, long live the King.
The narrative being pushed by the Ottawa Senators organization, and by those who believe they can do no wrong, is that the outpouring of anger and grief seen on social media and in season ticket sales is a “vocal minority”.
That is not the case, and there is a list of reasons as long as Zdeno Chara’s arm to prove it.
I’ll spare you the tired narrative of how every one of Ottawa’s star players leaves the team on terms about as friendly as those between Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, but for perspective’s sake, let’s take a quick jog down memory lane.
Daniel Alfredsson. Captain for 14 years, pillar in the community. On June 28, 2013, free agent Alfie stated he was “committed to play next year for the Senators”. What happened on July 1st contract negotiations? He was lowballed by management and took his ball to join the aging viking boat that was Detroit.
Kyle Turris. Senator for five years, alternate captain, pillar in the community. On November 5 2017, with Ottawa supposedly gearing up for a deep playoff run, the soon-to-be free agent Turris was shipped off to Nashville in a 3-way trade that brought Ottawa Matt Duchene and sent their first-round draft choice next season to the Avalanche. Turris then said in a media interview that it was, big surprise, “the owner” that didn’t want him re-signed in Ottawa.
And now that our little reminiscent punch in the stomach is concluded, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
So the next ingrate with the audacity to demand market value during contract negotiation was none other than Erik Karlsson, and with Ottawa’s 2017-2018 season going down the drain faster than you can say “Alexandre Daigle”, Pierre Dorion decided in February that it would be best to trade Karlsson and maximize a possible return to rebuild the team.
At least, that’s what he said after EK had been shipped off to San Jose on Thursday night.
Now grab your Scooby-Snax and put on your sleuthing caps, because folks, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Pierre Dorion said at a town hall meeting on April 10th that he would be offering Erik Karlsson an eight-year contract extension on July 1st. How does that make sense if the plan was just to trade him anyway? If anyone reading this believes that had Karlsson signed the deal on July 1st he wouldn’t have been traded, lowball offer and all, I have a bridge and a Canadian Tire Centre parking space I’d like to sell you.
And please, spare me the “sign-and-deal” revisionism. Dorion said he would offer him a contract, he neglected to follow that up with “and immediately trade him when he signs”.
Another little nugget of a head-scratcher can be found in the return that Ottawa got for Erik Karlsson. They traded the best defenceman in the game for Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, prospects Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers, a first-round draft pick (2019 or 2020) and a second-round pick in 2019.
Okay, am I the only one that thought that return was a joke when I was on Twitter?
Two fringe NHLers, two sub-Top-100 prospects, and a CONDITIONAL first-round pick for Erik expletive Karlsson?
After showing my roommates how to curse in three languages (English, French, and Finnish, if you were wondering), I had to face reality. This had happened.
Et tu, Pierre?
The narrative being pushed is that Doug Wilson fleeced Pierre Dorion once again. While I’m confident that Pierre Dorion won’t be in the running for GM of the Year anytime soon, make no mistake about it, Pierre from Orleans knew exactly what he was doing.
Given all the events I just listed, Sens fans are not unfamiliar with the concept of a rebuild, but are now wise to just exactly what it means.
You see, calling this a rebuild is an outright fallacy. There is no plan here, at least not a coherent one.
This is not a rebuild, it is a fire sale. A liquidation.
The simple fact of the matter is this: We’ve been here before. Ever since Ottawa’s championship window was slammed shut in 2008, there has been a concerted effort to somehow compete for a Stanley Cup, only while acting in the best interest of the owner’s bank account.
When was the last time Ottawa signed a marquee free agent? When was the last time they put their money where their mouth is and SHOWED fans that they intend to be a competitive team?
All this in mind, and people still have the audacity to push a “vocal minority” narrative.
In the interest of not having this piece devolve into the incoherent ramblings of a disgruntled fan, I’ll put things bluntly.
When you have an ex that was unfaithful to you, and they come back and beg for a second (or third, or fourth) chance, what reason do you have to trust them again? They’ve burned you once (or twice, or three times), it’s happened before and it may very likely happen again.
Furthermore, if you decide in an act of self-preservation to tell them to kick rocks, what right do they have to call you pessimistic and chastise you for not being more open-minded?
So if you feel you fall into the so-called “vocal minority”, and that you can’t find a reason to be optimistic anymore, don’t give it a second thought. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re a bad fan.
Odds are you’re a damn good one. One that has rode the lows for so long that the highs are too few and too far between.
When you’re a fan of a team, you love them. When you love someone, you’re honest with them.
If the person you love brushes you aside for presenting them with your honest feelings, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship.
That part, my friends, is up to you.