Wednesday, 4 July 2018

It's Not Getting Better

If you're the man to the left, how do you sleep at night? Ottawa Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion has a number of issues that his office is dealing with, and none of them will result in anything good for the Ottawa Senators. His star defenceman and franchise player wants out, his number-one netminder wants out, his assistant GM has been charged with harassment in Buffalo over unwanted sexual advances, and he still needs to sign two major pieces of his team before the teams goes to arbitration. I wouldn't want to walk a mile in Dorion's shoes right now as the franchise's future literally sits on his shoulders.

We'll start with the Erik Karlsson saga that now reportedly has the defenceman wantong to go to one of three teams that includes Dallas, Tampa Bay, or Vegas. By allowing Karlsson to work out an extension deal with one of these teams, the Senators have all but limited their options in getting back the maximum return for Karlsson by shutting out the rest of the market. If Dorion sticks to his guns by asking for a top-flight roster player, a blue-chip rookie or drafted player, and multiple high draft picks, he'll get some decent return, but he's not going to be better off.

On top of that, if Dorion forces one of these teams to accept Bobby Ryan's contract to get out from under that albatross contract, Ottawa and whomever they are trading Karlsson to will most certainly need a third team involved to be able to make the money work for all the teams. What started out as an unhappy defenceman wanting out now has all sorts of moving parts involved, and that means there will be complications that Dorion has to address. If he's working on this, he's not working on other stuff. That other stuff includes...

... the restricted free agents known as Cody Cici and Mark Stone. These two players represent the future of the franchise, and both are heading towards arbitration. We've already seen Dorion and the Senators low-ball Erik Karlsson, so would they do the same to Stone and Cici?

Here's the problem. NHL arbitration rules state that the arbitrator must rule for one side or the other - the player or the team - within 48 hours of the case. If the team doesn't like the arbitrator's decision, the team has the right to decline the decision, making the player an unrestricted free agent. If the Senators cannot sign these two players before the arbitration case has been decided, would the team really decline the decisions? It would seem foolish, but it could happen. Let's hope Dorion can find a way to sign these players prior to their arbitration dates so the Senators have some hope this season. But there's still other stuff that includes...

... assistant GM Randy Lee's ongoing legal problems. Lee has been the man in the big chair for the Belleville Senators over the last season as well as assisting Pierre Dorion in his role. Lee, however, has been preparing a legal defence since being charged with harassment over unwanted sexual advances towards a 19 year-old male hotel employee in Buffalo. Needless to say, his role with the team has been put on hold since the charges were laid, and I'm not sure he'll have a job to return to at the conclusion of the trial.

According to Gary Dimmock of the Ottawa Citizen, the family of the Buffalo complainant is also considering a civil lawsuit against Lee and the Senators, so the hits just keep on coming for the Senators when it comes to Lee's misbehavior. With Lee's time being occupied by this legal issue, Dorion has been tasked with Lee's role in assembling Belleville, and there haven't been many signings to report to date.

If there's one bonus that the B-Sens got, it was the hiring of Troy Mann, the former Hershey Bears coach, to run the Belleville Senators' bench. Mann is an outstanding bench boss, and really seems to get the most out of his players when it comes to their development. If Dorion gets the most out of Mann, the Senators should see some of their baby Senators move up the ranks soon.

When one looks back at this list, Mann's hiring doesn't outweigh the negatives that have taken hold of the Ottawa Senators franchise. This entire organization is in dysfunction from top to bottom - Melnyk to players - and each problem affects every other problem. If Pierre Dorion can start making a few good things happen, maybe there's a sliver of hope in the nation's capital that the Senators can be a solid team again.

If he bungles any of these problems listed, though, this franchise may crumble under the weight of its own ineptitude just as the Republic of Rome under its senators crumbled at the end of its era.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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