Updated: Oct 17, 2020
Josh reminisces about the many embarrassments of his favorite ice hockey squad
Since I am a Canadian, it is a decree that I am to have at least a passing interest in the sport of hockey. Although, I think the Brutes currently have about a 25% give a fuck rating for the “coolest game on Earth” but eff it! We’re talking sports today! No, not trade gossip or the statistics of some up and coming rookies; we’re talking about the absolute shit show known as the current Ottawa Senators. Now all you Sens fans reading this, don’t worry! I am one of you: A tortured soul that can’t help but chuckle thinking about our supervillain owner working closely with forensic doctors to prove an on-ice injury was intentional. Yeah, that actually happened but it barely breaks the top ten on the absurdity scale for Eugene Melnyk’s squadron. It wasn’t easy to break it down to only 5 when the team has been an overflowing dipper of disaster for the past 5 years but by god, I did my best!
So why would a Western Canadian kid like me cheer for the Sens anyways? That’s a good question. As a misguided youth, I found myself rooting for the Maple Leafs and I think I can trace that poor life choice back to the fact that I grew up in rural Saskatchewan and do you know who else did? 80s/90s hockey star, Wendel Clark. In fact, his hometown of Kelvington wasn’t too far from mine and in double fact, my father once played on a celebrity ball team with him, Brett Hull, and others. As the high from meeting these hockey legends faded, so did my interest in the sport and I honestly didn’t pay attention again until the early 2000’s. Sparked by some intense Nintendo 64 battles, I found myself consistently choosing the Sens as my team. Daniel Alfredsson? Marion Hossa? Martin Havlat? Hell yeah! And with that, I chose the path that would cause me extreme pain if I wasn’t already dead inside. So now with no further ado, and in no particular order, here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t cheer for this ridiculous team.
THE UBER VIDEO
While on a dismal road trip in the desert, the Sens decided that simply being embarrassed on the ice was mere child’s play. They demanded a wider stage to air their dysfunction and luckily, a greasy Uber driver answered the call. Frustrated after yet another series of defeats, 7 of the Sens hopped into a vehicle and proceeded to verbally shit all over their team. One man, special teams coach Marty Raymond, took the brunt of the abuse. "Marty Raymond, the only coach in NHL history to have the worst power-play and the worst PK within a calendar year," laughed Matt Duchene as his teammates agreed that this dude does indeed suck shit. The curious driver asked them what team they were employed by and since they were cruising somewhere in the Sunbelt, they didn’t think twice to spill the beans. He probably didn’t actually know who they were or what an “Ottawa” even was for that matter.
But honestly, shit talking is a pretty common occurrence. It’s a way to blow off steam when shit goes wrong or a dickhead boss is giving you the business. Unfortunately for the Sens, the driver released this footage and it all became widespread knowledge. Nobody was shocked that hockey players speak this way but it was just another public humiliation for a franchise that was taking a shit kicking. As it turns out, most of these guys would be traded away and as of the date of me typing this, only Chris Tierney and Thomas Chabot remain. As for Marty Raymond? Some say he never ran a penalty kill again… but I’m too lazy to look it up.
This was a weird one. In 2008, the Senators drafted a skinny Swedish kid named Erik Karlsson 15th overall and most of us were like… oh, alright. Years later, we all watched in awe as he tore up the league as arguably a top 5 player in the whole league. The next year, 130th overall, they would select a late bloomer by the name of Mike Hoffman. He ended up being pretty good at scoring goals and looked like an absolute steal of a deal nabbing him so late in the draft. There. Boring backstory part over. These two would play on some decent Sens squads who even came within a goal to making it to the Stanley Cup final. And then something went sour.
If you thought the Uber scandal was bad, wait til you get a load of this. Tensions between the two players became heightened and painfully public when reporters caught wind of a twisted feud between the players' respective life partners. According to Melinda Karlsson, Hoffman’s fiancee, Monika Caryk, was responsible for thousands of hateful messages directed at her online. Burner accounts were created by her hand with the sole purpose of harassing the Karlssons about their unborn child who would unfortunately not survive life outside the womb. Caryk and Hoffman would both vehemently deny the allegations but the damage would be irreparable. Both players would be traded to different teams and although nothing has been proven in a court of law, Hoffman and his lady don’t seem to have a great reputation around the league. As of October 15, Hoffman is still without an NHL contract despite putting up great numbers last year. Now is it a COVID thing or a “he’s a scumbag” thing? We may never know!
This was another super weird one. While Ottawa seems to go through head coaches like they’re sticks of deodorant, the assistants are occasionally able to survive the shrapnel. Sometimes the coach brings in all new guys and sometimes they give the dudes from the last regime a shot. In Randy Lee’s case, he had been involved with the organization for 23 years! That’s pretty amazing job stability in a line of work known for volatility. I sure hope he didn’t do anything foolish to ruin it. Oh. Oh no! His latest job title was assistant GM and that gig evaporated on one fateful evening in 2018.
Now I didn’t know much about Lee, other than the fact that he was very much involved with the American League team affiliated with the Senators. You know, working predominantly with teenage boys and what not. That’s why it was so alarming when he was charged with harassing a 19 year old bus driver. Apparently, rubbing the young man’s shoulders and massaging his own junk in a clearly non-consensual manner. Now we here at Brutal Reality approve of all forms of love… as long as it’s consensual! The bus driver wasn’t into it and Lee soon found himself subject to some serious allegations. Judging by his decision to resign from his post, I will go ahead and assume that the court case wasn’t looking good for him. Last I heard, he is out of the league but his pervy stench will live on within Sens fan lore.
TONE DEAF OWNER
Honestly, you could do a top 20 list with all the ridiculous shit that Eugene Melnyk has spewed over the years as owner of this franchise. From launching the aforementioned forensics investigation to his tumultuous relationship with the local press, the dude has a knack for making his own city despise him. He doesn’t handle criticism well and prefers to surround himself with gutless yes-men who won’t rock the boat. He kinda reminds me of another eccentric billionaire but I just can’t put my finger on it. Hmmmm. Oh well. I’m sure it’ll come to me one day. The point of this venomous paragraph is to highlight his skill in alienating the fan base and on the eve of Ottawa’s first outdoor game, he really outdid himself.
In 2003, the NHL decided to start the outdoor game gimmick and then in typical NHL fashion, proceeded to beat it to death until nobody cared anymore. But the owners still cared! Because it brings in a crud ton more fans than a usual game and probably additional sponsorships, it’s in a team’s best interest to get to host one. The players seem to dig it and the fans seem to shell out the dough to be a part of such a spectacle. All in all, the city was in high spirits on this weekend… that is until Melnyk decided to weigh in on the rumours that he is looking to sell the team. He denied it and responded “"If it doesn't look good here, it could look very, very nice somewhere else.” Yeah. Threatening to move the team on the eve of this outdoor game was a great call, Eugene. As of 2020, this knob still owns the team and they remain in Ottawa. As #MELNYKOUT billboards pop up around the city, he seems to be digging his heels in. Only time will tell how this plays out for us poor souls who root for this cursed team.
FRANCHISE PLAYERS? WHAT ARE THOSE?
Did I mention the owner is a shithead? Oh, I touched upon it briefly? Well, his wanker antics have successfully scared away countless players from staying in the nation’s capital long term and while the players are usually too classy to name names, it’s been highly insinuated by anyone paying attention that Texas Is The Reason. I mean, Melnyk. Sometimes he refused to open his cheque book and other times his bizarre meddling left a sour taste in their mouth. For example, legend has it that during an intermission of a playoff game that was not going well for the good guys, the late great Bryan Murray had to hold Melnyk back as he tried to enter the dressing room to give the boys a pep talk. I would put good money down on the fellows not appreciating those words of wisdom from this lunatic owner.
Even if you hate sports (which I assume you don’t if you’ve read this much), you at least have heard of certain franchise players. Steve Yzerman in Detroit, Michael Jordan in Chicago, Al Bundy in Chicago. Hell, Edmontonians are still pissy about Gretzky leaving 100 years later. And the Sens actually had one of their own - Daniel Alfredsson. Leafs fans hated him and for this, we rejoiced. It seemed like he would retire a Sen - the greatest Sen of all time. But no! Contract negotiations broke down and he left to play his final season with the Red Wings. He would return to sign a one day contract and retire in Ottawa but it didn’t have to go down that way. Later on, he would join the front office… and then abruptly quit for unannounced reasons. Hmmm. I wonder what he didn’t announce? As we continually see star players depart and flourish elsewhere, it makes a guy wonder “will it ever get better?” Well, with Melnyk running the show we’d have to refer to the classic Danny Alfredsson quote and say “probably not!”
In all seriousness, the Sens have some good young guys and I truly hope they stop sucking ass! GSG!