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Instant Reaction: Tough to See Pageau Go, Great to See the Return

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An extension was close but the return was too good to refuse for Dorion.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

After being disappointed by the Dylan DeMelo trade last week, Pierre Dorion went to work early this morning with two quick trades. Following the Vladislav Namestnikov trade, the Ottawa Senators were quick to announce that Jean-Gabriel Pageau had been traded to the New York Islanders for what was said to be a big haul. While there was some positive talk about Pageau and the Sens reaching an agreement for an extension, it was becoming evident that the ending of this situation would be a trade.

The most important part of this deal was the return — it was crucial for Pierre Dorion to save the day with a truly groundbreaking trade for a player like Pageau. While I personally had hoped for an extension, Dorion getting first and second round picks in the 2020 NHL draft is nothing to take lightly. It was only last week when reports were saying that getting a first round pick for Pageau was unlikely, and somehow Dorion was able to prove them very wrong.

Pageau was a player that wasn’t just about his numbers and stats, although those were doing very well. He was a reminder of so many good memories this team had once given us. He was a player that you could always rely on to work hard and deliver in some way or another. He was a player that was rarely disliked and very few people were ever frustrated with him. He was the local kid who truly felt like a friend to all of us and for all of that he will be dearly missed.

Most fans expected the trade to happen, and while it hurts, the majority will agree that the return makes this trade make perfect sense. Dorion seems to have won some fans over as he’s gotten a fair share of praise this morning:

But as expected for a player with such sentimental value as Pageau, there were a few extremely upset fans who were not at all happy with the trade regardless of the return:

If you’re on twitter, you could not have missed what is becoming the most famous image of this year’s trade deadline:

While Sens fans are now well trained for the player tribute videos, the Pageau video on March 5th will probably be the most painful to watch after that of Karlsson. Pierre Dorion may have handled the trade in a good manner, but the truth is Pageau wanted to stay. He wanted to be part of this rebuild and in return he just wanted stability and fair pay. One might disagree on how much Pageau really deserves to be making, but on a team that is desperately in need of leadership, Pageau would have been worth a slight overpayment.

The rumours so far are that the Pageau camp was looking for 5 years at $5M AAV while the Sens were not willing to budge on their $4-4.5M offer. I also expect that the term was another area they couldn’t agree on. What makes me hesitant to praise Dorion as highly as others is that negotiations with Pageau should have never waited this long — he put himself in a position where a trade was the only way out and possibly did so intentionally.

Sens management has been great with talks about reconnecting with fans. But the truth is, with every trade (as good as it is) all fans can see is another path of false hopes that end with another version of a tore down beloved team. Maybe extending Pageau didn’t make sense financially, but it would have probably gone a long way proving to fans and possibly to some current players that some good faith from Melnyk and Dorion still remains.

As for talks of Pageau coming back to Ottawa this summer, the possibility was quickly shut down as multiple sources have already confirmed that a long term extension is imminent. Surely enough, the Islanders announced moments ago that Pageau has agreed to a six year extension for $5M AAV. Ultimately, the package that the Islanders have given up was a clear indication that they have a lot of confidence in being able to retain Pageau long-term and they wasted no time to do so.

Pageau leaves us with countless moments of pure joy and a chant that will echo among fans for many years to come. His final days in Ottawa saw him honour a long-time Sens legend and in a fitting fashion, he played his last game against the Montreal Canadiens, a team that has often given him some unforgettable heroics. Here are only a few of his greatest moments: