It was early in March when Senators owner Eugene Melnyk penned a letter to season ticket holders stressing his commitment to “investing what is needed to identify, draft and develop the players that embody what it means to be an Ottawa Senator.”
With the team’s struggles on the ice, it was not a surprise to see the organization dismiss the disappointing season as an anomaly while simultaneously selling hope and its commitment to building a strong young core.
It’s sports management PR 101.
Although the Senators’ town halls taught me that there is still a segment of the base that takes every word the organization’s hierarchy spouts at face value, a growing number of fans are accustomed to this organization’s longstanding tradition of emphasizing the important buzzwords following a disappointing campaign.
Rather than hang on every word, fans will judge the organization based on its actions (or lack thereof).
Today I learned that the Senators fired two of their scouts last month and to this point, neither scout has been replaced.
Obviously with the 2018 junior hockey draft right around the corner, there being an opportunity to have these scouts contribute to the ongoing evaluation of the team’s master list, the timing seems odd.
Without knowing the reasoning behind the moves, it’s certainly easy to speculate as to why it happened.
It could be a measure to cut costs. It is possible that with the conclusion of the junior hockey season, their reports had been filed and that there simply wasn’t much use of their services as the team headed into the offseason.
It’s possible that the organization has every intent to fill these positions at some point in the future, but it’s not critically important to do so right now.
Or you know, maybe it was to cut costs.
Whatever the case, it’s another facet of the Senators’ offseason to keep an eye on and evaluate moving forward.
General manager Pierre Dorion has already downplayed the significance in adding more staff to the front office. Nobody should expect him to publicly convey a message indicating he needs more support in the hockey operations department. Dorion has and will continue to go to bat for his boss at each and every turn.
Beyond the critically important personnel decisions to be made on the future of players like Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, the only thing left for fans to judge this organization by are its actions this summer.
If ownerships continues to cut everything to the bone and one of the smallest front offices in the league shrinks in size, the erosion of faith in Melnyk to deliver a winner will continue.
Alfie Says Karlsson’s Preference is to Remain in Ottawa
As a four-time medalist at the World Championships and two-time Olympic medalist Daniel Alfredsson was deservingly inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame Sunday.
As difficult as it is to overshadow his list of accolades and accomplishments, Alfredsson dropped a few nuggets of information that are worthy of discussion.
While discussing his involvement in minor hockey while his kids are playing, Alfredsson admitted that his future involvement at the professional level could be re-examined.
“Professionally, I don’t know. I’ve taken a year off,” Alfresson told reporters. “It’s been nice, but part of me missed the competitiveness. We’ll see what happens.”
Alfredsson, of course, left the Senators’ organization after serving as a senior hockey advisor after a year on the job. Publicly, it was reported that Alfredsson was fazed by the demands of the job and the commitment it required – painting the picture of a person who wished to spend more time with his family in retirement in a way that could save him and the organization face.
It did not take long for gossip to spread that his decision to part ways with the Senators was not related to family, but to his frustration and unwillingness to continue to work under Eugene Melnyk.
As a mentor and friend to Erik Karlsson, Alfredsson was also asked about the captain’s uncertain future in Ottawa.
“To me, he says that he wants to stay. But it’s not all in his hands.”
Good ol’ Alfie. It’s the perfect way to stir the pot and put ownership under the gun if things go south with Karlsson’s contract negotiations this summer.
Contract Model For Free Agency Revealed
After John Tavares, the Senators’ Mark Stone clocked in with the second-highest projected average annual value on Cane’s list.
Stone’s predicted contract extension came in at four years with an average annual value of $8,772,854. Cane also included a sliding scale that calculates Stone’s average annual value based on how many years he actually signs for.
It would be a hefty raise from the three-year contract that Stone’s coming off that paid him $4.5 million in 2017-18 (the contract carried a $3.5 million average annual value).
Stone’s one of the best two-way wingers in the game, so to see these kinds of lofty projections isn’t unexpected. Historically the Senators have demonstrated a proficiency for getting their best players locked up to team-friendly deals when they’re not backed into a corner like they were during the Bobby Ryan contract negotiations, so it would hardly be surprising to see Stone take a less expensive short-term deal.
What’s really worrisome is that Cane’s model projects Cody Ceci to earn a one-year contract worth $4,093,933. If the Senators are looking at a long-term five or six-year pact however, Cane believes that Ceci could fetch upward of $5.7 million.