• By: Dave Gross

Ottawa Senators sinking like the Titanic

I remember the day clearly.

When polishing up the season synopsis of the Ottawa Senators on the ice (back in early April), the thought that this was definitively the worst year in franchise history was right there, smack-dab on the page.


The team that came within a Chris Kunitz eyelash of advancing to the Stanley Cup final had just wrapped up a follow-up year where it sank to remarkable depths and finished another Chris Kunitz eyelash out of last place overall.

(With all due respect to Chris Kunitz and his eyelashes).

An unreal drop in performance.

But it was with a cathartic deep breath that Senators fans bid adieu to the season just past.

The worst was behind, a possibly bright future was waiting in the wings.

How wrong that thought came to be.

As poorly as the team had played on the ice for the previous seven-plus months, nothing compared to how poorly it was faring –  now – away from the game. (. . . And please take note, we haven’t even touched on the ongoing Battle Royal between the fan base and owner).

First Randy Lee and his immense troubles, then the capital’s own version of Kramer vs. Kramer: Karlsson vs. Hoffman.

“You have got an organization, top to bottom, that is in absolute shambles. They’re the laughingstock of the league. There’s nobody more comical, in a sad way, than Ottawa is now.”

The words – we have heard several times the past week – came from highly respected TSN analyst Ray Ferraro.

He wasn’t wrong folks.

Far from wrong, in fact.

Welcome to Ottawa, hockey world, where dysfunction rules the roost.

This is to a point where, to be accurate, there is no way in hell the franchise can dust itself off and get headed in the right direction.

At least, anytime soon.

The biggest elephant in the room is undoubtedly the Karlsson-Hoffman rift (or whatever it is). Whether it’s factual or fabricated, the story of who did what to who, or didn’t, or did, is a coffin closer.

Both players not only need to go, they have to go.

There’s just too much blood on the floor here to save either Hoffman or Karlsson as Ottawa Senators.

Hoffman’s status has taken an irreparable hit. He might have done absolutely nothing, but this is an optics situation in an extremely volatile market. Best to get what you can for a talented yet sometimes uncommitted scorer and move forward. The shaky fan base won’t settle for anything less.

For Karlsson this is quite a bit different.

Even before the mess with Hoffman surfaced (which had been rumoured to have been going on since last November), the gut said Karlsson wanted out.

He wasn’t quite ‘uplifting’ in his answers when asked about potentially re-signing here. No hometown discount was offered or hinted at.

And while the relationship with Hoffman and girlfriends and wives was yet to surface publicly, the captain’s relationship with owner Eugene Melnyk was called into question long beforehand.

Did one of the NHL’s best talents (now at age 28) really want to stay in a fractious set-up where the public truly believed the current team owner wasn’t interested in spending big money to supplement Karlsson with top-end talents?

A year from now, King Karl can just walk away and sign wherever he likes.

Why would he choose to stay?

I mean, the Royal Ottawa Golf Club is a premier course and is real enticing, but it’s not that enticing.

A team dedicated to spending whatever it takes to climb to the top (this includes a healthy scouting staff)?

Now that’s an enticement.

Especially if your No. 1 interest is leaving this game and this league as a winner.

The gut (again) says Karlsson owns that attitude.

The crap now going on with Hoffman pushes Karlsson even further out the exit door.

I guess when GM Pierre Dorion indicated (at season’s end) the rebuild here would be in the three-to-five-year model, he wasn’t kidding around.

But I am pretty sure he never saw that thought be proven and underlined by the sad occurrences of the last couple of months.

A suggestion for the new slogan for Ottawa Senator fans?

The patience of Job.

This too shall pass . . . you can only hope.