SportsA ripe stench in Senators’ land

A ripe stench in Senators’ land

A ripe stench in Senators’ land

Photo courtesy of NHLI via Getty Images

The numbers (like my hips) don’t lie: 28, 26 and 26.

And therein lies the biggest question arising out of the garage-sale-Senators. You admit you’re into a rebuilding phase and these three numbers can’t be part of it?

The numbers represent the ages of the three shipped out – Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel. At last check, ‘prime’ in the NHL generally resides for players in their late 20s and early 30s. Hence, two of these guys are a few years away from prime territory while Duchene is just entering his.

There are lame excuses and outright misdirection. There are both here. Ottawa management and ownership should be red-faced with the proclamation that a rebuild is the game-plan.


But that’s just par for the course. Ottawa has been a pure and brilliant tire fire since slipping into the Eastern Conference finale (somehow) nearly two years ago.

In the past year, Ottawa has traded away the best player in franchise history, the best candidate to be the next-best player in franchise history and two high quality forwards.

More to the point, how does this trend of players wanting out of Ottawa stop?

Do you think Brady Tkachuk will want to stick around when his deal comes up, considering his mentor and close friend and lone dish of franchise hope is sent to Vegas?

What about Thomas Chabot?

If he has any notions about challenging for a Stanley Cup in the near future is that going to be here?

Here’s nothing that is going to shake the foundation of surprise, but here it is: the problem in Ottawa and the reason players want out and won’t re-sign has nothing to do with the fans, with the weather, with the rink, with the media or with their fellow players.

This is all about a franchise that is sucking wind from the top.

Would you want to play for Eugene Melnyk if you had a choice?

Didn’t think so.

You could hear the elation and relief pouring out of Duchene and especially Stone when they heard the news they were set free from the owner’s grasp.

“Just playing two games there in my career, the atmosphere, the city, the lineup that they put on the ice every night and just the ownership’s commitment to winning. I can’t wait and I’m so excited to be a part of it.”

You think head coach Guy Boucher was happy with this deal?

“What I saw in the last three years was growth is in (Stone’s) leadership. You could see his influence grew amongst the group on a social side to which I didn’t see the first year I was here three years ago. He was more of a quiet guy, as I’m sure you guys know. Mark’s not someone that’s just going to talk to say whatever. It’s very precise, it’s very thought-through.

“That’s definitely part of leadership. It’s a clear path with Mark and the players were definitely look at him say this is the way things are done.”

And the blame game doesn’t stop at Melnyk.

General manager Pierre Dorion doesn’t get off the hook either.

Anyone buying what he’s selling?

Didn’t think so.

Especially when he says: “All we are asking is for our fans to be patient.”



With what?

Is there really a plan in place here?

None of these moves makes any kind of sense.

“At times it’s a bit more difficult, but we know, at the end of the day, we’re making the right decision.”

Not really. Not even close.

Trade notes and notions: The Toronto Maple Leafs also aren’t off the hook. Weakness: Size and grit. Trade: Nic Petan from Winnipeg. Petan is 5-9. Fail . . . Ottawa native Erik Gudbranson moves from Vancouver to Pittsburgh. Good move for all. ‘Guddy’ was never a fit with the Canucks and the Penguins need a little more muscle . . . Nashville wins the Wayne Simmonds sweepstakes. Boston really wanted him but the Preds stepped up adding hot prospect Ryan Hartman into the deal . . . Ottawa landed another hot prospect in Erik Brannstrom in the Stone deal. Brannstrom was a first-rounder in 2017 and apparently can really wheel.

Senators week ahead:

Tuesday, Feb. 26: Ottawa at Washington (7 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 28: Edmonton at Ottawa (7:30 p.m.)

Saturday, March 2: Ottawa at Tampa (7 p.m.)

Sunday, March 3: Ottawa at Florida (5 p.m.)

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