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Five Thoughts for Friday

Much work needed ahead for the Sens, the NHL and Hockey Canada

2021-22 Ottawa Senators NHL Team Photo Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

LeBreton Flats

It’s been a good week for the Ottawa Senators and the City of Ottawa with the announcement of the Senators signing an MOU to have a downtown arena at some point in the future.

It’s exactly what we’ve all been waiting for and this time, it seems it might just happen. The city wants it to happen, the NHL seems to have put in their big players as partners and the fans have been begging for it. With the lease expected to be finalized in 2023 and construction possibly starting in 2024, I can’t help but wonder if it will go as smoothly as we’re hoping it would this time.

There isn’t much detail about anything at this point especially when it comes to financing the building of the arena. This is a major point when it comes to non-hockey fans in Ottawa. While the arena is being touted as a multi-use facility, it will be mostly associated with the Ottawa Senators and this is where Ottawa residents may object if taxpayer money is to be utilized.

The other issue is the timeline. As much as I love this City, we can all agree things never move as fast as they should. Assuming nothing major changes on the ownership front, a downtown arena means more revenues. Status quo could possibly mean an extended period of being a budget team. How long can the Sens survive this?

Lastly, with a new Mayor expected to run the show in the next few months, could this possibly add more complex layers to the project?

Maybe I’ve been burnt too many times, but I am still very nervous about this project being finalized in the grand fashion that we’re hoping for.

Ottawa Media

Between the Lebreton news, the Alfie to the Hall initiative and the upcoming draft, there have been quiet a few topics to keep Ottawa Media members occupied. However, it seems Bruce Garrioch saw it appropriate to mention absolutely nothing about Alfredsson’s place in the Hall of Fame. Instead, this is a sample of his most recent tweets . He seems to have deleted the #nomailbags tweet after many felt he was personally directing it at another Ottawa colleague, I’ll let everyone guess who that might be.

Garrioch is entitled to operate however he sees fit, and to do whatever he believes will deliver the most value for his audience. But it seems to me that with the Sens entering a new era, there’s a real opportunity for the team and the media to change a lot of things about the current working relationship. This isn’t about Bruce alone because there are seemingly a lot of petty grievances out there in the small world of Sens-related media. The franchise’s past behaviour bears some of the blame for that, too. It would be a shame if, as the franchise seemingly turns the corner, some of the old ways of doing things couldn’t also be changed. Every Sens fan would be the better for it.

The Melnyk Daughters

You have the give credit where it’s due and ever since their father passed away, the Melnyk girls have been trying to shift the direction of the team as much as they can. We can’t know how much of this shift is directly attributed to them but if the new Sens account admin hire was their choice, that’s a good start.

That being said, while I’ll praise their good work I will also say that I’m still hoping for new ownership. This may seem harsh but there is a lot of damage and bad PR related to the Melnyk name and yes they are not their father but the Ottawa Senators deserve a fresh start. The Senators need a complete face lift when it comes to ownership and management. Stable financials, no loyalties to the current regime and most importantly: a whole lot of experience on how to revive and sustain this franchise. They’ve been good stewards, and a welcome breath of fresh air, but in the back of my mind it still feels like a fresh start would be ideal for all.

Officiating

There is nothing more joyful than a playoff win and more heartbreaking than a loss you thought shouldn’t have happened. It’s not just one incident even though your minds probably went to Kadri’s OT goal. It would seem that we’ve been facing some major crises in the quality of officiating throughout the playoffs. The NHL’s standard for officiating has always been an issue, in my opinion, but what’s frustrating is that the problems seem to be getting worse. Frankly, I don’t know what the solution is but surely in all of these high level NHL meetings, they would know? More training? More accountability? All I know, when it comes to the playoffs, this level of officiating should not be acceptable.

Team Canada Hockey

With the recent allegations against Hockey Canada, it’s safe to say that many feel there should be more substantial consequences than we’ve seen to date. There have been suggestions of a ban from competition for a number of years which I think is a fair should at least be under consideration given the magnitude of the alleged offenses. The Federal Government had a similar idea and announced this week that it will freeze funding to Hockey Canada. What makes this decision fruitful is that it’s not based on a timeline but a conditional action. The government is asking Hockey Canada to provide an independent investigative party proof that there is a proper course of plan on how to address the 2018 allegations and others that have occurred and funding won’t continue until they are satisfied with the findings. This could potentially mean that the name of the 8 players is revealed which would be the highest level of accountability as far as I’m concerned. My question is: did no one at any level of government really know anything about this? Has the government not performed a thorough audit since 2018? Why is the call to action happening now and not when Hockey Canada was first made aware and was handling the situation? I am pleased with the government’s decision but I wonder if it would have happened had the story not come to light.