“What is up Sens Tweeps! Sit back, chillax and let me drop the 411 about the dopest owner in the league! A man who singlehandedly saved our awesome franchise and had the guts, liver and all, to get rid of a bunch of ungrateful, overrated players who were, eventually, gonna be way too old to consider good anyway! He has the vision of an eagle and is every bit as majestic! This team’s going places! Maybe not downtown, but real fans don’t care! CTC’s only a quick Uber ride anyway! They know Eugene always has their best interest in mind! That’s why this rebuild will stick! Seriously, this time’s the one! You’ll see! Trust me, Stone, Karlsson, you couldn’t build a Lego set with them, let alone a contender!
EK won’t be remembered anywhere when he’s finished! Except the record books. Eugene also had the good sense to jettison Alfie & the other dead weight in the front office so Pierre can focus on acquiring more bottom six players and connecting with real fans! We don’t need some greedy, ‘beloved’ former captain who left us, twice, just because he wanted a fair salary. No sir! The good ship Senator is about to embark on a run of ‘unparalleled success’ and isn’t about to let fake fans, or bush league journalists steer us off course! With Eugene at the helm, it can only be clear sailing ahead! So get ready Sens fans, the future is bright, so pack your shades! Oh, and be sure to check out the Hexagon Suite! Hear it’s a great deal! Later Tweeps!”
I’m honestly not sure what makes me feel worse, writing that, or knowing this parody is what a beloved franchise has become. The 2019 Ottawa Senators have hit more potholes than even the spring weather in this city provides, and they just keep coming. The latest sprung up last week when some new Twitter accounts took to social media, defending the honour, or whatever remains, of owner Eugene Melnyk. They boasted about the teams (former) success and claim critical fans are unfair towards him or ‘fake’ if they dare question his leadership, which at this point isn’t so much audacity as logical. It seems like whenever there’s trouble in the nation’s capital these accounts start popping up like dog turds amongst the freshly melted snow. The latest hero rushing to the Sens ‘rescue’ is Jack Maxwell14140182, who sounds like he should be driving a Camaro in a string of cheesy 80’s action movies. Many more have cropped up since, a number of which seem merely to troll, which, while amusing, speaks to the discord of the franchise.
To make matters worse, this isn’t even the first such incident within the organisation, this season. Earlier in the year, Aubrey Childress & co. took their model head-shots to Twitter, defending Eugene in the wake of the Uber Video scandal, attacking the press for running the story, and thanking him for saving the team & noting how the previous owner went bankrupt & couldn’t pay players. The irony of this is not lost on us. Now, as most have suggested, (including our fearless leaders here at the 4th line) and common sense would dictate, it’s most likely not Eugene himself hunched over a laptop in some dimly lit back room creating these accounts, entertaining as that thought may be. However, few, if any, doubt he’d be more than willing to dictate this decree to his minions, or at least the few left he actually pays, to have them defend the organisation’s honour. Which was in fact only tarnished by himself…
If this storyline seems familiar, we’ve seen it play out in the NBA as well. Golden State Warriors super star Kevin Durant was found to have burner accounts, defending himself online as did the Philadelphia 76ers brass, used to level criticism at their players. In the wake of this, Brian Colangelo, Philly’s President & GM resigned from his post. Clearly this isn’t the kind of toxic behaviour you want around an organisation, and certainly not one a successful franchise brings upon itself…I give you the 2019 Ottawa Senators…
Perhaps the saddest part of all is what this speaks to on a much deeper level. That it’s become just another chapter in what was once a great, consistently contending team devolving into a laughing stock, a constant punchline whose own fans are tired of defending it. It’s more gasoline on the tire fire they scramble daily to put out, but can’t get ahead of. Reputable outfits don’t need this, and certainly don’t allow it to happen.
That’s not to say even the most successful teams are devoid of issues, or discontent within the fan base, but they address it, professionally, like an adult. They speak to the fans, address their concerns, and try their utmost to turn things around before they escalate to this pathetic state. They’re honest and not so deluded that they can’t see they’re the ones standing in their own way, that the discontent and struggling box office are a direct result of their own actions. Or so prideful that they cling to ownership desperately, without the means to run things properly, even if it torpedoes the franchise itself. They try to make right by the fans they need in order to have the ‘unparalleled success’ they’ve envisioned. Not call them ‘fake’ online, like some petulant teenager, for refusing to support someone who’s driven the franchise into the ground, then backed over it.
To make matters worse Melnyk went on local radio, in Toronto (because of course), with Bob McCowan on SportsNet’s 590 The Fan and continued to blather on, making fun on the rival Maple Leafs rebuild, as I’m not sure he understands the term fully. This despite the fact it’s competitor TSN who hold the broadcast rights for the team and puts millions in his pocket. Then when back in Ottawa, he proceeded to call one of, if not the most respected journalists in town, Ian Mendes of TSN 1200, bush league, as again, he may not fully understand the implication. All because Mendes dared to ask the very reasonable question of why GM Pierre Dorion would consider trading star player and the guy many saw as their next captain, Mark Stone the best day of his career. Also, one can’t help wondering exactly what made that particular day so much more special than when he traded Turris, or Karlsson, or Dzingel, or Duchene…?
Currently the Sens are trying to find someone to come in as a President of Hockey Operations, or perhaps ringmaster, and Elliott Friedman wrote today that the NHL itself may be involved in the process. How bad have things got when that’s probably a best case scenario? When every time Eugene opens his mouth it’s another PR disaster? It’s no wonder they have these bots do the dirty work for them. Who else would defend their actions? Stand up for this clown? What PR firm could even help them? That’s what should truly concern fans and the league. That they have to create these personas willing to stick up for them because nobody with any shred of dignity will. Or that they don’t even seem to realise how bad it makes them look. Even some of the oft sycophantic Ottawa media were quiet on the subject as there’s no other way to spin it. I guess it’s not just a “few hundred” people online who are fed up. How can the league abide this? And how long is it until they tell Eugene Melnyk to ‘log’ off?
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