Five Thoughts for Friday

Karlsson, Melnyk, Turris... it’s all here

There’s lots to talk about these days, so let’s get right to it.

  1. Erik Karlsson

So much has been written about Erik Karlsson recently, I almost feel weird writing more, but it’s so hard to ignore. First of all, I think this whole contract thing has been blown out of proportion. He said that he recognizes it’s a business, and he plans to get paid what he’s worth. I know that’s almost sacrilege when Eugene Melnyk is your owner, but it’s really not that controversial. I heard it as Karlsson saying he know the team could decide he’ll be expensive and trade him, not him holding management hostage.

It’s important to remember a couple things. First of all, English is Karlsson’s second language. I know he speaks it really well like all young Swedes, but sometimes nuance still gets lost in translation. I don’t think he realized the storm he’d set off. Not to mention that Canadian hockey media is always more uptight. Karlsson has given some great interviews to Swedish papers, but personality and humour are lost on the Canadian sports media. A simple comment like, “I want to make money,” turns into the end of the world.

It’s important to remember also that this whole thing was started off by Drew Doughty saying he’d get paid what he’s worth, and he’d consult with Karlsson (since they share an agent). The media didn’t explode saying the Kings needed to trade him because a) he said he might go to Toronto, b) Los Angeles doesn’t care as much about hockey as Ottawa, and c) the Kings are winning. I think c) is super important here. If the Sens were in the midst of a 5-1-2 stretch, you’d say, “Huh, I guess that’s the price of winning.” I don’t think any of this “Trade Karlsson!” garbage comes up if Ottawa’s even treading water. It’s the fact that in came in the midst of his career-high pointless streak.

What’s also bothersome to me is how little value people seem to place on Karlsson in a trade. Half of Blue Jackets fans wouldn’t trade Seth Jones in a package for Erik Karlsson. People want the Sens to retain salary if Michal Kempny goes the other way. Some idiot said Ryan McDonagh, Boo Nieves, and a 2nd could get Karlsson and Mark Stone AS LONG AS the Sens retain $2.5M. WHAT?!?!?! I thought the playoffs showed everyone Karlsson is the greatest defenceman in the world. I get that these are fan trade offers, but still. If Dorion even thinks about retaining salary in a Karlsson trade, I’m gonna cry.

That last sentence brings up an interesting point. I believe there is a situation in which the Sens trade Karlsson. I think it’s highly unlikely (franchise players are so hard to come by), but it’s possible. I believe that the pieces you get back will never be able to replace Karlsson playing half of every game for the next eight years, but you’d still get a haul (or a Hall?) in a trade. Dorion would be failing at his job if he didn’t think about it. I just can’t imagine after the playoff run this team just went on, Dorion deciding his best move is to trade the guy that almost single-handedly drove his team to within a goal of the Stanley Cup Final just 6 months later. But it’s not impossible, and it worries me that I think that.

2. Sens ownership

After numerous reports that Eugene Melnyk had already sold the team to Jeff Hunt, president of Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. The fact that Hunt felt the need to make a public statement to the contrary to me seems highly suspicious. Either he’s really thin-skinned, he believes people will actually let things go after one statement, or there’s at least a couple sparks below this smoke.

His points are true, that he doesn’t have the capital to buy an NHL team. But we do know (or are beyond a reasonable doubt at least) that Melnyk is nearing bankruptcy. He’s liquidated every asset over the last few years. The Sens are basically his retirement fund, and at some point he likely will have to sell. I don’t think Hunt could buy a team himself, but he could be part of a group trying to purchase. He could’ve been approached by a prospective buyer asking if he’d like to be a minority owner. Why else would he feel compelled to deny it so quickly? Melnyk seems to be a control freak, and I can imagine him throwing a hissy fit if a sale was being sorted out and anything got leaked to the media. This reeks more of damage control than genuine truth to me.

The fact that Melnyk was supposed to appear on his favourite radio station (Fan 590) in his favourite city (Toronto) only to cancel at the last minute says stuff to me too. No guarantees he’ll sell the team, but at least there’s real interest and real opportunity. He felt the need to say something, only to back out again. It’s all very cryptic, but I expect there’s a lot going on here and Melnyk is spending more time stamping out rumours than anything else.

3. Kyle Turris

A potential sale wasn’t even the biggest Melnyk-related story this week. Kyle Turris dropped a bomb on Wednesday:

Pierre Dorion then felt the need to run a press conference to deny this, which led to Julie Turris dropping her own bomb:

It’s the GM’s job to take heat for the owner. Same way it’s Gary Bettman’s job to take heat for the owners. Amazing how many people will willingly lie on behalf of billionaires. I digress. Anyway, it’s not surprising Dorion made a statement like this. It’s similar to him holding a press conference to say, “Water is wet,” or, “Star Wars is popular.”

What’s unusual is that he held this press conference at all. There was no agenda. It was reportedly at the media’s request, but it seems to have mostly been sparked by those Turris comments. That says to me there is definite truth to Turris’s comments. I can’t imagine much more angering Melnyk than the media getting wind of his meddling with his team. Dorion knows it’s his job on the line here, so he holds a press conference to stop the truth from spreading. Or at least a semi-truth. I know it’s just my opinion, but I don’t think Dorion does this if it’s all just a fabrication.

This does have big implications though. If it’s Melnyk’s fault Turris wasn’t re-signed, who else are we going to lose because of him? Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have Matt Duchene, and I can only imagine the damage he’d be doing on the Predators if that’s how the trade went down. I just think that’s worrisome if the GM and player negotiate an extension for a core player, only for the owner to scrap it. You know rumours of Melnyk meddling are going to haunt any future player who’s traded or walks. And the scary part is, they may be right.

4. Michal Kempny

There have been rumours the Sens are specifically looking at the Blackhawks’ Kempny. This seems odd to me, seeing as he’s fine as a third-pairing defenceman, but bottom-pairing guys aren’t the Sens’ issue. Guy Boucher already insists on playing Ben Harpur and Johnny Oduya with regularity. If we’re rotating Fredrik Claesson and Thomas Chabot through the press box, what does adding another left-handed d-man do? Allow you to scratch them both? This team may be better with him, but not if Claesson’s scratched to make room for him. To me it seems like a trade to create an even bigger log-jam, one that will only get worse when Mark Borowiecki comes back. If the Sens trade a decent forward (Ryan Dzingel?) when they’re already playing Alexandre Burrows, Nate Thompson, Tom Pyatt, and Gabriel Dumont up front so they can scratch Claesson more often, I’m completely lost. I hope this doesn’t happen unless there’s also a good pick or something coming back at the very least.

5. Alumni game

So after this long set of awful thoughts, here’s a lighter one. Take a look at the alumni game rosters:

Who wins this game? Team Alfie has the better forward corps, but I’d argue a d-corps led by Chris Phillips and Wade Redden beats whatever Alfie sends over the boards. Hockey is 90% goaltending though they way, so I hope this comes down to a Patrick Lalime / Ron Tugnutt duel for absolute supremacy.

Who wins the Sens Alumni Classic?

Team Alfredsson308
Team Phillips41

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