Five Thoughts for Friday

What’s worse about the Sens — the off-ice player stuff or the off-ice everything else?

A little late, but nevertheless still relevant: it’s time for your Five Thoughts for Friday!

1. Worst-Case Scenarios

We know the trade deadline is in just over a week. We know the Senators will likely look different once the deadline has come and past. At least some of Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, Ryan Dzingel, and Cody Ceci will be gone. But the Sens have managed to bungle recent situations, and as such, the fan base normally turns to the worst-case scenario:

What would be worse? I could see Dorion signing Dzingel to something like 5 years, $6M if he realizes Duchene and Stone won’t stay. That would be pretty bad. But then he could also sign Ceci for max-term 8-year, $7M or something, which would be even worse. He also could realize Stone wants to leave, and throw everything at Duchene, and I think something like 8 years, $11M for Duchene would be a crippling contract. What’s sad is that even though a fire sale and losing all the pending UFAs is a bad situation, as Sens fans we’re conditioned to think, “But what if something even worse happened?”

2. Cody Ceci trade

Meanwhile, something the blogging community has been clamouring for for a long time may just come to fruition:

What angers me is that the team still thinks he’s good, just that they can’t afford him at what he’ll command. Though Ceci is better than Jared Cowen ever got, it reminds of me when the Sens finally traded Cowen and Murray’s first words were that he still expected Cowen to be a great NHL defenceman. The Leafs told him to stay home, bought him out, and he didn’t make the Avalanche after a PTO. I don’t think Cowen’s even playing professional hockey right now, or at least no site has information about him. Ceci probably won’t be out of the NHL by next season, but the Sens still are awful at player evaluation.

I think part of it comes back to Dorion being an amateur scout, and the Sens having a bare-bones front office. Dorion’s team did well at identifying underappreciated talent both early (Erik Karlsson) and late (Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel) in the draft. But the NHL-level trades (Alex Burrows, Derick Brassard) have shown a team that isn’t really aware of the current ability of NHLers. It seems to translate into the team’s own players: most people could tell you Thomas Chabot is better at both ends of the ice than Cody Ceci, but for some reason the Sens are stuck in a, “Chabot’s an offenceman, Ceci is big” mentality.

All that being said, we likely soon won’t see Ceci in the shutdown role. That will at least make me a calmer game watcher.

3. Borowiecki the ambassador

Mark Borowiecki is the team’s Hockey Is For Everyone ambassador (though the team has yet to announce this on any official platform), and he used his position to actually go to the Pride Parade and give some of his thoughts.

It is too bad this team had to add “hetero of the year” Anders Nilsson just to start to have a real presence with this cause in Ottawa, but good on Boro to call out the team, saying they haven’t done nearly enough. You know not every player would be comfortable saying this, because careless words to the media have led (at least in part) to the trades of guys like Karlsson and Chris Wideman. But Boro’s been a loyal water-carrier for management in the past, and as such he probably gets some leeway to speak his mind. I’m much happier to see him use that freedom to speak on something like this or the Capital City Condors than something trivial.

Also, his line about “despite what some people think, I do have a working brain” was comedy gold. That was clearly directed at people like me. Three years ago, he talked about he’d trained his dog to sniff out bloggers at the rink. I don’t love his play, but whether he’s appearing in awkward videos with Melnyk, saying Karlsson needs someone to hold him accountable, or hating on blogs, almost everything Boro does is newsworthy and in some sense entertaining. That’s why I’m less concerned about how he fits into the Sens’ future plans.

4. Hockey is for Couples

If you didn’t listen to the latest This Amelnykan Life, no judgement, I know not everyone likes podcasts and those who do don’t always like them full of laughter and mascot sensuality, but I wanted to touch on a specific thing. No, not the use of my longtime friend Matt McKechnie aka Graven’s song in the opening credits, though that was cool. It was Poppy’s experience as part of the LGBTQ+ photoshoot to promote Love is Love night.

Basically, she showed up at a photoshoot with a couple of her friends, because the Sens said they wanted members of the LGBTQ+ community in Ottawa for some promotional stuff. But when they arrived, the photographer suddenly commented that the team actually wanted couples, so they had to do a bunch of pretend couple shots for the poster. To me, that seems really odd. To demonstrate inclusivity, they forced at least some people to pretend to be dating. And yes, people pose all the time as models in shoots pretending to be everything. But these weren’t models, they weren’t paid, and they weren’t notified ahead of time about what would be going down in these photoshoots. It’s almost like the Sens assumed anyone who identifies differently had to be in a committed relationship, which feels gross. (“How can you be gay? You don’t have a boyfriend right now.”)

What’s probably worse though is that this was clearly a rushed job. CMO Aimee Deziel told many “influencers” the Sens would be doing more for HIFE month this year, and someone even reached out to our own Beata way back in the fall to ask her if she’d be interested in helping the Sens do better (though probably local LGBTQ+ activists or something would’ve been a better choice). But then nothing was announced until February. This photoshoot happened a week before the promo pictures came out. Love is Love night was announced two days before it happened. Sometimes teams screw these things up, but that’s why you don’t do everything at the last minute, so that there is time to fix some early mistakes. Sure the Sens did better than last year, but clearing the bar of literally nothing isn’t impressive.

Some of the rumours say that some in the office (I’m assuming Deziel) really pushed hard for more HIFE stuff, and others were less receptive. We know it’s not a money thing for promo nights, because Country Night was marketed heavily and was a huge success. There aren’t too many in the organization who could successfully push back on things Deziel tried to do. If this rumour is true, it’s just another in a long line of reasons to really not like Eugene Melnyk.

5. Playoff loyalty

So after that cheery note, let’s get back to something more cheery: cheering! Spoiler: the Sens won’t make the playoffs. For some, that means the playoffs aren’t worth watching. Others default to their backup teams. What I’m wondering is if trades go down, will that affect who you cheer for? Will you follow Stone or Duchene (or Dzingel?) and hope for them to win a Cup? Most Sens fans were happy to see guys like Ray Emery and Antoine Vermette win a Cup with the Blackhawks, even though most Sens fans hate cheering for anyone with a history of winning. Some Sens fans cheered for Chris Kelly way back in 2011, even though it meant cheering for a divisional rival.

The Jets are a rumoured landing place for one of them, and my dad currently lives in Winnipeg, so I could get behind them for sure. The Flames are another one, and living in Calgary, and having about 40% of my hockey-loving family as Flames fans (the other 60% being Oilers fans) I could cheer for them too. Let me know your thoughts in the poll — and the comments!

Who will you cheer for in the playoffs?

Nobody if the Sens aren’t in it111
My second team129
The Sharks, because Karlsson159
Wherever Stone or Duchene land22
Where Stone or Duchene land, unless it’s a team I hate91

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