NHL Week in Review (October 3-5)

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It isn’t even a week into the NHL season and already things have gotten weird in Ottawa, which isn’t much of a surprise.

The Senators were the Cinderella story a few times in the last couple of years making the playoffs and making a serious run.

In 2017 they found themselves in the Eastern Conference finals with a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.

They lost that series but the season was a big one for the team as there was some hope for a team that was considered middling at best.

The hope was that they could build on that showing and become a team that could compete in the playoffs for years to come.

That never came to fruition though as the Senators went from that high to missing the playoffs altogether in 2018.

The season was not a good one as they never seemed to have a plan to get the team back on track sitting in between rebuilding and competing.

While they struggled on the ice things got strange off of the ice as well, with ownership playing hardball with the city.

The distractions were many as the Senators were looking for a new arena in Ottawa and owner Eugene Melnyk continued to talk about it whenever he could.

He lobbied for the city to invest in the team or the team would have to think about leaving the city altogether.

It is a common debate in the NHL as teams are beginning to realize that their stadiums are out of date both in location and in facilities.

The Senators wanted to move closer to downtown Ottawa rather than 30 minutes outside of the city itself.

Eventually, a deal got close to being done as the Senators seem to have a new place to put an arena with an agreement almost ready.

That distraction off of the ice certainly didn’t help their on-ice performance and without much depth, they sunk to the bottom of the league.

This offseason was just a continuation of that season of disorganization with the team continuing to trap themselves in between two ways of thinking.

They seemed to fully commit to a rebuild when they traded away Erik Karlsson and Matt Hoffman.

Then again there are a number of players on the team that could have been dealt for prospects but were kept on the team.

It seems like to some the idea is to reload more than rebuild but for most, the reload won’t work too well.

The predictions for this team have not been very promising and a lot of it is how this team is being managed.

Only a few weeks ago the Sens decided to put Zack Smith on waivers allowing any team to pick him up for the new season.

It was one of the strangest decisions as they could have likely received a pretty good deal for Smith had they wanted to get rid of him through a trade.hockey-sidebar

Instead, they were just letting him leave to any team willing to sign him and it confused a lot of people.

Players began coming out and stating that they completely disagreed with the decision to waive Smith claiming it made no sense.

Eventually, the Senators brought Smith back to the team and kept him in the lineup but the move sent some chills down the spines of the Senator fans.

That move was a microcosm of what many thought the season was going to mean for the Senators.

A lot of strange decisions with not a lot of success leaving them sitting in a weird spot at the end of the season.

It’s not a new story by any stretch as the Sens are just falling into a spot that so many other teams have been before.

They don’t want to rebuild or claim that they are rebuilding because they don’t want fans to stop tuning in or everyone to just forget about them.

At the same time, they are not good enough to compete at the top level and they are nowhere close to taking a shot at the Stanley Cup.

They can’t compete and they won’t rebuild caught in the middle and when that happens nobody wins.

The Senators may surprise and prove everyone wrong but this season could be a rough one for a team without an identity.

 

Overtime

Gritty Takes Over

The Philadelphia Flyers announced a new addition to the team before the season began and that new addition made plenty of headlines. This was the first time in decades that the Flyers would have a mascot but when Gritty was announced the talk became about his terrifying appearance. It was likely never meant to be as big of a joke as it has become but the Flyers are leaning into the criticism. There is no mascot talked about more than Gritty right now as he has been on TV and all over the internet. From videos of him shooting a T-Shirt cannon at Flyer employees to falling on the ice on the same night, he has been talked about. It has become a brilliant marketing ploy for the Flyers whether it was meant or not.

First Suspension Already

The season had yet to start and already a controversial hit has stolen the headlines when Tom Wilson collided with Oskar Sundqvist. It was a high hit and a dangerous hit without much purpose behind it aside from getting his body on somebody. The reason this made more headlines than usual though is that Wilson has been in trouble for this exact thing before. He has gained the reputation of a dirty player and this hit only adds to that reputation. Largely because of the reputation the NHL gave him a 20-game suspension that he and the NHLPA have appealed but regardless this suspension is a message that a bigger ban could come if he does this again.

Newest Team Close

Just before the season began the NHL made a big decision on the future of the league deciding to recommend that the NHL expand to Seattle. It was the second step in a long process that seems to be headed towards a 32nd team in the NHL. Recently Seattle approved a larger scale renovation of the KeyArena that would make it up to date to the arenas that currently hold professional teams. With that renovation, the league decided that the best option for expansion would be to go to Seattle. The final step would be the Board of Governors agreeing with the recommendation and approve the ownership group. The renovations would need to take place and an expansion draft organized but the biggest hurdles seem to be passed opening the door for hockey in the Northwest United States.

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