Opinion: Senators Take Coward’s Way Out on Karlsson

Let’s be honest. We all saw this coming.

We knew Senators’ General Manager Pierre Dorion would make Erik Karlsson an “offer” on July 1st.

We knew it would be a formality in an attempt to save face for an organization that has bungled every single major decision in the last, say, year and a half.

We knew none of this would matter, and that Erik Karlsson was on his way out of Ottawa this offseason.

We’re not stupid, and I’m growing tired of being treated like we are.

Pierre Dorion held his July 1st media availability at 4:45pmEST on this Canada Day, July 1st. Conveniently when TSN’s coverage was off the air, and when radio network TSN1200 was continuing coverage of the FIFA World Cup. Rogers’ Sportsnet, of course, was wrapped up in the John Tavares to Toronto (ugh) saga, and the Senators didn’t stream the Dorion availability on social media.

For perspective’s sake, the Edmonton Oilers live-streamed GM Peter Chiarelli’s media availability on Twitter.

So Pierre Dorion, with no major media coverage whatsoever, told reporters at Canadian Tire Centre that he would not be discussing any players currently under contract with the Ottawa Senators. Aside from throwing in that he made Erik Karlsson an offer, but of course, wouldn’t be getting into the details.

I can’t be the only one that’s getting sick of this.

Throughout this entire Erik Karlsson debacle, we as fans have been fed nothing but lies and deception. Pierre Dorion said, at the trade deadline, that he was never actively shopping Erik Karlsson. Then Bobby Ryan came out and said he had, up until shortly before the deadline, believed that both he and Karlsson would be packing their bags and moving to Vegas.

We were told by Dorion that he would offer Erik Karlsson a contract extension on July 1st, but wasn’t able to offer one before then.


That’s why Arizona Coyotes defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and LA Kings defenceman Drew Doughty verbally agreed to contract extensions in the waning weeks of June?

Frankly, this is a joke.

Doughty is making $11M a year once his extension kicks in, and I would bet my house on the fact that Eugene Melnyk is rolling on the floor, laughing at the notion of paying that much.

We as fans know what’s going to happen. We know that this franchise has likely jerked Karlsson around long enough that he wants out. And if that isn’t the case, we can say with relative certainty that they low-balled Karlsson.

When July 1st came, Pierre Dorion said he offered the captain an extension, but would not go into details on Karlsson’s reaction to the offer. Unlike Senators’ management, I know you’re not stupid, so I won’t waste my breath explaining what this means.

Erik Karlsson is as good as gone, and days like today show you why.

Pierre Dorion, and the Senators as a whole, took the coward’s way out.

He stood in front of the media, with no major coverage whatsoever, and all but outright said he would only be commenting on the meaningless AHL signings that Ottawa made at the beginning of this year’s free agency period. He would not disclose the details of the Erik Karlsson negotiation.

And please, spare me the “well he can’t tip his hand to other teams” argument in the comments section.

The fact of the matter is this shouldn’t even be a conversation. Erik Karlsson should be an Ottawa Senator for life. He should be making just as much, if not more, than Drew Doughty, and he should not be insulted with anything less.

Erik Karlsson has earned the right to be one of the top-paid players in the National Hockey League. He has carried the Ottawa Senators to heights greater than they had any right to reach, and the notion that Eugene Melnyk and Pierre Dorion would disrespect him with anything less is infuriating.

I’m tired of having the potential to win the Stanley Cup ripped away from me, as a fan.

But more than anything, I’m tired of being insulted.

We, as fans, know what this is. We know that Erik Karlsson being re-signed at market value was never an option for this management group, and that offering him a contract extension on July 1st was nothing more than makeup for an organizational black eye.

Dorion said it himself. He “promised” at the town hall meetings that he would offer Karlsson an extension on July 1st. Nothing more.

I mean really, what did they think we expected? That they would offer Karlsson a contract at market-value in a desperate attempt to keep him in Ottawa?

No, we see through this. We know that making Erik Karlsson an Ottawa Senator for life is not an option.

We know that there is no commitment to winning here.

We know that we are nothing more than dollar-signs in the eyes of an owner who doesn’t give a damn about the fanbase that gave him a liver to extend his life. We know that this team is merely an asset that can be put towards him saving money against his already exorbitant amount of debt.

We know that we are about to lose Erik Karlsson.

Losing Daniel Alfredsson was unthinkable, and very hard to swallow. Losing Karlsson will be a blow to this franchise that they will struggle to recover from.

I love this team, and losing Karlsson hurts more than I can type in a blog post. But the worst part of this entire situation is the way it has been handled.

We have been lied to since February. Melnyk and Co. have tried to spin this story any way they can to make it seem that they have done everything they can to keep Erik Karlsson, and that the ball is in his court. They have told us time and again that they want Karlsson in Ottawa.

What they haven’t told us, is that they are not willing to pay him what he is worth. That they care more about dollars and cents than about winning hockey games, and paying back a fanbase that has endured a lot of pain and suffering for little reward over the last 26 years. That this is nothing more than a money-saving purge of a competitive hockey club, for an owner that spends more time on the beach in Barbados than in the press box at Canadian Tire Centre.

We know that this is not the way things are supposed to be, that we deserve better.

We know that we have been abandoned by the Ottawa Senators, and that they took the coward’s way out on the most important matter in franchise history.

We know that next season, someone not named Erik Karlsson will be the captain of the Ottawa Senators.

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