It took 407 days to completely destroy a fan-base’s optimism and happiness. Here I am writing about something, the Ottawa Senators, something which for nearly my entire life had brought me joy. Accordingly, you would think I would be excited to write about the Sens, but honestly lately I have wanted to avoid them in my writing. I am writing about the implosion of a franchise, and all it took was 407 days. The Erik Karlsson trade saga is the final nail in the coffin.
Let’s just look at the Senators starting lineup for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals:
Bobby Ryan – Kyle Turris (traded) – Mark Stone
Mike Hoffman (traded) – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Tom Pyatt
Clarke MacArthur (retired) – Derick Brassard (traded) – Zack Smith
Viktor Stalberg (Europe) – Chris Kelly (free agency) – Ryan Dzingel
Marc Methot (traded) – Erik Karlsson (basically traded)
Dion Phaneuf (traded) – Cody Ceci
Fredrik Claesson (free agency) – Chris Wideman
Craig Anderson (Requested trade)
9 of 20 of those players are no longer in a Sens jersey, Karlsson is bound to join them and Anderson has requested to leave Ottawa. To say it is not going well, is putting it in kind terms. This has been a disaster, and the roster and hockey team sucking is just the tip of the iceberg. Eugene Melnyk has bashed, belittled and ignored his once loyal fan-base, who have been left hurt and betrayed. Melnyk’s attempts to fix the problems that exist in this organization have been feeble and poorly executed.
His apologies have hardly been apologies, the town hall meetings were met with lukewarm and mixed reactions and the LeBreton Flats development has been stalled. This after Mr. Melnyk had proudly addressed the situation on January 25th. According to Ottawa Mayor, Jim Watson the hold-up is entirely on Melnyk. Melnyk has no plan, no money, and no guidance. He has liquidated half of last year’s roster, yet does not understand how the team has gone downhill so quickly. He has to “refinance” to pay off debt he owes. Finally, the CEO (Tom Anselmi) he brought into help speed up the LeBreton Flats development and rebuild the Senators brand has already left. In just over a year Anselmi, the man who oversaw the construction of the Air Canada Centre and was formerly the COO with MLSE, left. He wanted nothing to do with this tire fire. You cannot blame Anselmi, who was tired of working with Melnyk and an organization with zero direction. This has been the most painful year of my life as a Sens fan, and I think you would be hard pressed to find a Sens fan who disagrees. How can something so beautiful and heart-warming like the 2016-17 Senators team, be obliterated and tarnished so quickly?
Blame whoever you want to blame, but you will not move me from my stance. Eugene Melnyk is the problem here. Not Pierre Dorion, not Guy Boucher and certainly not the players. Melnyk is the tyrant who put these people in their positions, and he is the same man who oversaw the destruction of this franchise. Instead of attempting to stop the bleeding, he has increased it and stepped on our hearts. To threaten relocation, because fans are displeased with the team performance, arena location, and management decisions is probably one of the worst courses of action. Yet, he did it confidently and with zero remorse in his words. I think those comments on December 16th, speak volumes about Melnyk’s outlook on this franchise. On arguably the biggest weekend of the franchise’s history, as Ottawa was set to proudly host the NHL 100 Winter Classic, Mr. Melnyk decided he needed the spotlight and to steal the show. He is selfish and does not care about the fans, and he has burned almost every single bridge the Senators organization has made.
I wish I could say the Ottawa Senators could make me happy right now, but unless Erik Karlsson miraculously ends up staying, or Eugene Melnyk sells the franchise, I believe I will be left saddened by the Sens until at least the end of this summer. I will never stop cheering for this franchise so long as they exist, because of the disease that is sport fandom, but you can be assured I am gripping my wallet much tighter. I plan to do all in my power to avoid giving Melnyk another dime of my hard earned money until our Ottawa Senators are run properly. And yes, I said our, because us the fans have invested hundreds, even thousands into this franchise year over year, and we deserve better than this. Here’s hoping in 407 days, Eugene Melnyk will simply be a name in history, rather than the source of our endless nightmare for Sens fans.
Thank you for reading and Go Sens Go.