Updated: Jan 21
I knew it wouldn’t last. I am pretty sure Senators GM Pierre Dorian knew it wouldn't last. But it was a good feeling. And it got me thinking.
What is the current feeling of the fan base?
A guy I volunteered with last year (2019-2020) bet me $10 that the Senators were making the 2020 playoffs.
I am now $10 richer.
But this year is different. The draft went really well. There were some trades and some free agent signings the likes of which Ottawa has not seen in recent history.
So how and what are the fans feeling now? I reached out to a few, who ranged from healthy skeptics to completely delusional.
I was pleased to see a variety of responses, both in length and difference of opinion. Fans were randomly selected, very unscientifically. Just your average guys.
This is what they said.
Where do you think the Sens are going to finish in the division standings and league standings?
Matteo: Northern division? Sens finish 3rd. The league, I'm not sure, I don’t know the other divisions well. Very underrated for young talent and goaltending is great, both starter and backup.
Matthias: 4th in the division. 19th in the league.
Nevill: 5th in division! And 17th overall 💪
Alexander: 2nd in the division, 9th in the league.
Mustafa: I think the Sens will finish second last in the division with either the Habs or Jets coming in last. In the league standings I think they will finish bottom 10, closer to 6th worst.
How far out do you think the Senators are from being a perennial cup contender (never is an acceptable though unappreciated answer...just look at the Leafs).
Matteo: I think a few more years of development and, with a couple of key players, the Sens can be a Cup contender. We do need more experience - talented experience - in order to be a Cup winning team. Our young core is amazing, but experience is key.
Matthias: 4 years.
Nevill: Hmmm 2-3 years. Must sign Brady, though!
Alexander: We are one new owner and a downtown arena deal away; 3-5 years on the short side. Although, miracles do happen.
Mustafa: I think the Sens still have 3 seasons until they can be near a Cup. By then, Brady and Chabot will be experienced players in their prime, and guys like Stützle and Sanderson will be playing at their full potential. Depending on the draft in the 2021 season, we might even see another top rookie on the team by then, giving Ottawa a good chance at the cup. They will also have Murray still in net, still in his prime.
Do you think the Senators Hockey Ops are doing a good job?
Matteo: I think hockey management is good. I think they look at ways to improve each year and you’re never going to make everyone happy. So I'm happy.
Matthias: Not really. I liked their initial approach with all the draft picks, finding a scoring winger in Dadonov and a starting goalie in Murray, but then I was caught off guard by the crazy amount of veterans Pierre Dorian brought in (who are now taking away ice time from the young guys).
Nevill: Scouting is consistent as always to find new talent. Dorion as GM is still up for debate as I think his hands have been tied due to Melnyk cutting costs and being a budget team. Overall, 7/10.
Alexander: All things considered, I think the team is doing a lot with a little. This is hardly Billy Beane’s Athletics (Moneyball). However, I do think that, in the face of all the internal and external obstacles hockey operations management has to contend with, they are making the best of a difficult situation. The development and drafting being done is impressive and the on-ice product is nearly as good as it can be in respect to our cap hit. Finally, just the fact that they continue to remain motivated in spite of an owner who is clearly not interested in making the investments necessary for continued Cup contention impresses me daily.
Mustafa: I think Dorion has done a good job with the rebuild. He traded high end players when they had lots of value and got picks and young rookies that had lots of potential. This season, he's done a good job of bringing in older players like Stepan to help the kids grow. To me, the Mark Stone trade is the biggest bruise to his rep. With Sanderson being drafted as a defensive defenseman to balance Chabot or Brannstrom’s offence, this means that one of them will have to play on the second pairing, probably Brannstrom. And I would not trade Stone for a high talent second-pairing defenseman. We can only hope Brannstrom develops well. DJ Smith has been really good, he seems to really believe in the "best player plays" culture.
Do you think the overall Senators Sports and Entertainment management is doing a good job of managing the team, current situation, business, etc?
Matteo: Sens management is doing an amazing job. I’d say we have top tier scouting, we brought in stacks of talent. In terms of Dorion, he is great and Eugene needs to learn to just stop talking because he digs himself a hole the more he talks. Obviously, dumping the entire roster wasn’t a good look, but the rebuild has been great and credit to Dorion on this. Belleville still has great talent and we have the ability to pull young guys into an active squad. I think Formenton deserves a shot on the main roster, though.
Matthias: The rebrand was fantastic. I think it’s great for the team’s reputation and the feel around this team has been revitalized. Hard to say any more, business-wise, with there being no fans allowed at the CTC.
Nevill: SSE is improving overall. PR for Melnyk is key to a lot of this and the vibe around the Sens is considerably more positive and energetic as a result of this!
Alexander: No. Not overall. I think the treatment of fans, athletes, staff, and city partners is all the evidence one should ever need to prove what upper management thinks of all involved. To an outsider, the situation reads like a whole lot of take and very little give. As someone nearly willing to purchase season’s tickets, I remain mystified by upper management’s decisions that make it harder and harder for me to justify the purchase.
Mustafa: From a business point of view, the fact that fans are not allowed makes it hard to see if ticket sales will go up. I am still mad over the way the arena move went down and think the Sens really need a new arena but the owner has been good [this year]. As long as he can stay away from drama and just keep chilling in Barbados.
Would you go to a game if tickets were released this year? What precautions would you take, if any, or why not?
Matteo: Hell, yes! I would go. I would just prefer that they separate seating (have the 2 meter spaces in between) and offer “ordering food/beverage from your section”, whether it’s by app or having a servers...eliminate more in person contact [in the lines].
Matthias: Absolutely I would go. Without precaution.
Nevill: Definitely would get tickets this year! Releasing seats in small clusters throughout CTC makes sense like what the Bills are doing. I’d wear a mask if needed but kinda hard to down a beer that way!
Alexander: I would gladly attend a game if the proper precautions were taken re: capacity, seat spacing, parking access, etc. That said, I will not bring my family to a game this year regardless of precautions. The complications involved with bringing young children coupled with the effects of the pandemic response are too much hassle to be offset by whatever fun the kids might have.
Mustafa: I would not go to a Sens game if they sold tickets this year because of COVID. Recently the cases are very high. If the games were outdoors with social distancing, I would go for sure. I would love to see the NHL do more outdoor games in football stadiums or something, especially in COVID.
Bonus question! In brief, how are you feeling about the Sens RIGHT NOW?
Matteo: SPICY 🌶
Matthias: Hyped!!! But honestly just so grateful for hockey again.
Nevill: Cautiously optimistic.
Alexander: They’re entertaining as ****.
Mustafa: Hungry. I'm hungry, and so are the Sens 😋
Happy to hear your comments in the answers below, as the last question is, of course...How are you feeling about the Sens RIGHT NOW?
By Jonathan Gilman | Sens Nation Hockey