Five Thoughts For Friday
They’ve broken us.
As if this organization could get any less competent, this week we learned that the Sens’ plan to build a new arena downtown are officially dead. Shockingly, the people involved couldn’t get along with Eugene Melnyk.
Brad explained the situation in this post, but essentially this means the downtown arena definitely isn’t happening, unless for some reason the next proposal selected by the NCC also includes an arena, which seems unlikely given their history with Melnyk and generally the current state of the Sens.
My favourite part about this news is definitely Melnyk’s statement where he essentially blames everyone else for not being able to work with him or not meeting his demands, which, as we know, included a lot of public money that wasn’t part of the original agreement. Because if nobody can work with Melnyk, it’s obviously everybody else’s fault, right?
The man is nothing if not on brand.
It obviously sucks to lose Lebreton, since that’s something Sens fans have been looking forward to for a long time and would undoubtedly do a lot of good for the franchise. At the same time, though, this seems like the only scenario that could possibly lead to a sale, and we’ve reached a point now where progress can’t be made until a sale happens.
I’ll admit I’m starting to lose hope in anyone ever stepping in to save this franchise from Melnyk, but Lebreton would have been really good for him, and the NHL can’t be happy about this outcome. Not to mention that the two lawsuits are going to happen, and if this doesn’t go Melnyk’s way, he’s going to be in a very tough spot. Wow, am I actually cheering for the owner of my favourite hockey team to be sued for a billion dollars? I love being a Sens fan.
I don’t know if the Lebreton situation is salvageable, but really, anything that leads to a sale is worth it in the end.
Anthony Duclair is actually pretty great
I did not start this post expecting to say something positive about the Sens, but here I am!
I don’t really have much to say about Anthony Duclair except that I like him. He’s looked really good so far on a team that has definitely not looked good, and I know he has a habit of starting out hot with a new team then cooling off very quickly, but thinking about the future is futile with this team and it’s been fun to watch him in the few games he’s played with Ottawa.
Isn’t that all that matters with this team anyways? We just have to find little things that bring us joy and stop thinking about how the team will never be good and every player we like will leave?
All hail Cody Ceci, our new king
Almost everyone who was rumoured to be on the trading block was dealt at the deadline, as promised, but there was one notable exception. Yes, the one player Sens fans have been hoping the team would get rid of for ages ended up being the one player the team actually kept.
Seriously, I’m pretty sure he’s the only one left now. Like the only Senator who survived the deadline.
While I understand why some fans might be upset about this, I say we embrace it. This team isn’t going to be any good until Melnyk sells. It’s not like we can get any worse. Holding on to Cody Ceci isn’t really that big a deal when your entire franchise is going up in flames and it seems unlikely you’ll ever win another game.
For now, he also seems to be one of the only players who’s okay with staying in Ottawa. So why not keep him? Why not give him the captaincy? Why not give him the maximum contract, too? Screw it. Nothing matters anymore. Let’s embrace Cody Ceci as our king and the new supreme ruler of the universe.
Do I know more about hockey than Pierre Dorion?
I’m joking, obviously, but listening to his interviews over the last few days, I’m starting to wonder if that might not be too far off from the truth.
I won’t rehash everything he’s said, but I’m left wondering if he’s dumb, or if he thinks Sens fans are dumb, and I’m not sure which is worse.
If Pierre Dorion genuinely thinks that what the Sens are doing is a perfectly normal rebuild that is perfectly in line with what other teams do all the time and that will result in long-term success, then he definitely doesn’t know enough about hockey to be the general manager of a hockey team.
I don’t know if the guy believes what he’s saying when he defends the trades and acts like fans are overreacting, but it comes off as so condescending and definitely won’t help him win over a fanbase that already feels very alienated.
Don’t let Dorion convince you that the what the Sens have been doing over the last year is in any way normal. Don’t buy into the narrative that fans who are upset about it are overreacting or being irrational. Don’t let him convince you that you have to blindly agree with everything he does if you’re a real fan.
This is absolutely not a rebuild, and we do not have to be okay with it.
This brings me to my final thought, which is about the state of this fanbase. I saw a lot of different feelings being expressed online after the Stone trade on Monday. Some sadness, a lot of anger, but also a lot of resignation.
We knew this was going to happen eventually. Why not just get it over with?
I have to admit I fell into that last category. Stone is one of my favourite NHL players of all time, and has been since his first few games as a Senator, and he was also one of the few things that made this year’s Senators games watchable. I should have been a lot more upset about his departure than I was, but I feel like I came to terms with the trade back in September when Erik Karlsson left and I realized there was no way Stone would stay.
It’s not that I don’t care about the Sens, necessarily. It’s more like I’ve pressed pause on any emotional attachment until Melnyk sells and the team starts to have any sense of direction, because until that happens, nothing is ever going to get better.
Right now, the Sens can get as many draft picks as they want. They can draft as many future superstars as possible, and trade for as many top-tier prospects as they can find. But none of it will matter as long as Melnyk is still here, because as long as he is here nobody is going to want to stay, and it doesn’t matter how much talent you acquire and develop if you can’t convince players to stay.
Watching Tkachuk and Chabot this season has been fun, but let’s not pretend their success is a sign that the future is bright. Let’s not pretend that if this team somehow manages to sneak into the playoffs sometime in the next few years, public perception will shift and players will suddenly be happy to play in Ottawa. Until a certain massive structural change occurs, this team is only going to keep spinning its tires, going through the same cycle over and over and over again.
Nothing that happens on the ice, or to the roster, is going to change this team’s situation, and that’s why I barely batted an eye when one of my favourite NHL players of all time was traded a few days ago.
A sale doesn’t fix all the Sens’ problems. But the rebuild - the real rebuild this team needs and hasn’t started yet - can’t start until a sale happens.