The Ottawa Senators are dealing with crisis after crisis at every level.
Former captain Daniel Alfredsson called for owner Eugene Melnyk to sell the team Star Lotulelei Jersey , assistant general manager Randy Lee is suspended pending his court date on a harassment charge, and 20-goal scorer Mike Hoffman was traded amid an off-ice dispute with captain Erik Karlsson, whose own future is uncertain.
Thirteen months ago, the Senators were a goal away from the Stanley Cup Final. Now they’re in turmoil.
”Through adversity we find people’s true character,” general manager Pierre Dorion said Thursday. ”We find out who wants to be with you in a war in tough times. It’s great when people want to be around you when you’re a goal away from getting to the Stanley Cup Final, but we really find out about people’s true values and true character and real integrity when it’s difficult situations. All I can say is we at the Ottawa Senators, we have great people.”
As if Alfredsson’s pointed criticism wasn’t enough, Lee was charged with second-degree harassment after allegedly making lewd comments and rubbing the shoulders of a 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver at the scouting combine. Add to that, Melinda Karlsson filed an order of protection alleging harassment and cyberbullying against Hoffman’s fiancee, Monika Caryk, for posting hundreds of derogatory online messages about her and her husband.
One of these crises would be enough to challenge an organization, let alone them piling up. Fans in Ottawa are unhappy with Melnyk, who mused about moving the team and infamously said he’s ”not going to blow a lifetime of working hard on a hockey team.”
It’s hard work now for Dorion and the front office to get things back on track. He began earlier this week by trading Hoffman to San Jose, a deal that he explained as a way to fix team chemistry and character.
”Trading Mike Hoffman was something that we needed to do,” Dorion said. ”Our dressing room was broken. We have to have a dressing room that wants to win together. Key components for us moving forward are character, leadership, accountability Sammy Baugh Jersey , and we’re very happy with the return we got on Mike Hoffman.”
The return of forward Mikkel Boedker and the fact that the Sharks flipped Hoffman to Florida to clear salary-cap space was almost inconsequential. The relationship between two of Ottawa’s top players seemed irreparable after Karlsson’s wife said in a sworn statement that ”Monika Caryk has uttered numerous statements wishing my unborn child dead.” The Karlssons’ first child, a son named Axel, was stillborn in March.
Dorion said no players came to management last season to talk about any concerns. But something was wrong for Ottawa to go from a playoff contender that was difficult to play against to 28-43-11 and second-to-last in the NHL.
”We finished in 30th place last year,” Dorion said. ”There is great room for improvement.”
On the ice, Dorion hopes a full season with center Matt Duchene and an influx of talent including the player selected fourth overall Friday night will make the Senators competitive again. He refused to speak about Karlsson, the elite puck-moving defenseman who could become a free agent in the summer of 2019 and on whose shoulders the franchise’s best hopes rest.
Dorion said only the Senators ”have a good game plan” and could table a contract offer to Karlsson as soon as July 1. He wouldn’t comment as to whether trading Hoffman might help the cause of re-signing Karlsson and didn’t want to commit to a rebuild or a retooling effort or label the front office’s direction.
”People like to brand things,” Dorion said. ”Whatever direction we’re going, we need core players to be part of that. You can’t just put a bunch of young kids on a team. You need core players.”
Lee has been a key part of the Senators’ front office for decades, but he’s not with them at the NHL draft because of his suspension ahead of a court date July 6 in Buffalo, New York. Lee pleaded not guilty to the harassment charges.
”We felt we made the right decision with Randy Lee,” Dorion said. ”In 23 years with the organization there’s never been an incident recorded. It’s an on-going process. On July 6, Randy will have his due process, and from there we will re-evaluate.”
On the topic of Melnyk, Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the Stanley Cup Final that the Senators were not for sale. Any complaints about ownership, from Alfredsson or the fan base, are above Dorion’s head, but he said it’s on his shoulders to help get the Senators back to the playoffs and hopes he can convince free agents of the strong belief he has in the direction they’re going.
”Come to Ottawa Andrew Luck Jersey ,” Dorion said. ”We’re going to be a good team. We were really close a year ago. We had a bump in the road. We have good players. You can be part of this group that can be part of a good team and build toward a great future.”
When Emmanuel Sanders returned from vacation to start the Denver Broncos‘ offseason training program, he went straight to the team store and loved what he saw.
Hanging off the racks were No. 4 Case Keenum jerseys.
For the first time since Peyton Manning’s retirement after Super Bowl 50, the Broncos entered their offseason training program certain of who will be under center after signing Keenum to a two-year, $36 million deal and declaring him the starter.
”I appreciate it, for sure,” Sanders said Wednesday. ”This is the first time in two or three years that I’m not standing up here talking about a quarterback debate. I remember when I got out here, I went out to the team store and I saw Case Keenum jerseys . I was like, `Thank God, I don’t have to deal with that again.’
”Case is our guy. We can go from there. We can work our butts off, try to gain chemistry and try to put up points.”
On the day he signed his contract, Keenum was named the starter by general manager John Elway, who also traded Trevor Siemian, who had beaten Paxton Lynch for the starting quarterback job each of the past two summers, to Minnesota.
After the draft last weekend, Elway reiterated two things about Lynch, whom he traded up to draft in the first round out of Memphis two years ago:
-He still believes he’ll figure things out and become a starting NFL quarterback.
-He’ll have to beat out Chad Kelly this offseason to win the backup job.
If he doesn’t, it would mark the third straight summer that Lynch has failed to beat out a seventh-rounder for a job.
Sanders Bryce Callahan Jersey , who said he’s healthy after being bothered by an ankle injury almost all of last season, is a big fan of Keenum and of the Broncos’ decision to declare him the starter right away.
”He’s a leader,” Sanders said, adding that ”98 percent” of his passes so far have been on target. ”He’s confident in himself. He’s one of those guys that when he steps into the huddle, he’s that leader.
”You don’t have to second-guess what his thought process is. We’re going to complete this ball. We’re going to keep the ball moving. I’m liking what I’m seeing from him so far.”
Sanders and Demaryius Thomas were loath last season to complain about it, but they were clearly affected by the turnstile at quarterback as the Broncos churned through Siemian, Lynch and Brock Osweiler during a 5-11 season.
”You can sit back and say we’re all professional football players and you’ve got to deal with that situation, but at the same time, obviously you can’t gain the same chemistry,” Sanders said.
”You don’t have the same mindset. You have to talk to two different quarterbacks. When you’re going into individual routes, you have to go to one guy and then go with the next guy. You don’t really gain that chemistry. You’re not maximizing the opportunity.
”Now we’re maximizing the opportunity, and hopefully it pays off.”
The Broncos also added some talent into their wide receiving depth, replacing free agent departures Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler III with draft picks Courtland Sutton of SMU and DaeSean Hamilton of Penn State.
Sanders, who also played at SMU, worked out with Sutton over the winter and was delighted when the Broncos picked him in the second round.
At 6-4 and 218 pounds, he’s built like Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
”D.T. is big,” Sanders said Corey Linsley Jersey , but Sutton ”looks like he belongs in the NBA. Working out with him, he has amazing feet. He’s very fluid for being so big. I’m looking forward to getting him in here and just working. Hopefully he can come up with some big plays for us this year.”
At 6-1 and 205 pounds, Hamilton is closer to Sanders’ size – 5-11, 180 – but still bigger.
”I’m going to teach those guys everything that I know,” Sanders said. ”That’s my job.”
Sanders, who is 31 years old and will make $8.25 million this season, said he’s not concerned that the rookies will eventually unseat him.
”That’s going to happen sooner or later,” Sanders said. ”… All I can do is make plays every single day and show that if I become expendable here, just show some other team, hey, look, I still got it. I still got the juice.”
NOTES: The Broncos face a Thursday deadline to exercise OLB Shane Ray’s fifth-year option at more than $9 million, which seems unlikely given that he’s started 15 games in three seasons, missed most of last season with a wrist injury and watched Bradley Chubb fall to Denver with the fifth pick in the last week’s NFL draft.
Womens Derwin James Jersey