When we talk about anything related to sports, everyone has an opinion. Usually these opinions fall far on the “greatest of all time” and “worst thing ever” ends of the spectrum. But if we take a fair look at things, the truth usually falls right into the middle of things. So, in order to get to the bottom about how Sens fans should feel about certain folks and events, we bring you “Yay and Nay,” an exploration of the positives and negatives to come up with a conclusion as to how far towards “greatest of all time” or “worst ever” we should feel about things.
Today, we kick off “Yay and Nay” with a post trade deadline analysis of Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion.
Yay: He throws drinks with the poise of a professional darts player.
- Look at the form, the way the drink flies gracefully through the air. This guy is the Daniel Alfredsson of throwing drinks in frustration during regular season overtime losses. Don’t mistake him for stoic or chilled out, and definitely don’t make GMPD mad, lest you end up with a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Frappuccino with extra whipped cream in the face.
Nay: The guy says really dumb stuff to the media sometimes - "Today is one of the proudest days I’ve had in the NHL." 50 points to you if you can guess the context of this Pierre Dorion comment. Was it when the team clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017? Maybe it was when he drafted Brady Tkachuk or Tim Stutzle? Of course not, this was when he traded fan favourite Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights. Let’s also not forget that “on the 8th day, God created Erik Karlsson”, but 15 months later he was in a San Jose Sharks jersey.
Yay: His trading record - He got Josh Norris, 3rd overall pick Tim Stutzle and four other pieces for a one legged Karlsson about to sign an 8 year $92 million deal. He got a first round pick (Lassi Thompson), Vitali Abramov and Jonathan Davisson for impending UFA Matt Duchene. He got two second round picks and Anthony Duclair for current Ottawa Senator Ryan Dzingel. He managed to ship out whipping boy Cody Ceci to the Leafs for Nikita Zaitsev and Connor Brown, who happens to have a longer record setting goal scoring streak this season than Auston Matthews does. He also filled out the roster beautifully with under the radar pick ups in 2017 ahead of their playoff run with useful players like Tommy Wingels, Alex Burrows, and Viktor Stalberg. Nay: His trading record - He banished Mike Hoffman for an overpaid Mikkel Boedker and two mid-range picks, only to see Hoffman back in his division two hours later for a better return than Ottawa got. He swung for the fences to get Duchene that ended up costing them the fourth overall pick and sent fan favorite Kyle Turris to Nashville. He sent fan favorite Dylan DeMelo packing for a bag of magic beans. The trade for Matt Murray wasn’t bad, but the contract he signed right after sure was. You know what, let’s call his trading record a wash, because it’s about as consistent as an Ottawa Senators goaltender the last four years.
Yay: He cleans up after himself and is good at fixing his mistakes - You’ll notice I didn’t mention the Mika Zibanejad trade in either of the previous categories. This one gets complicated. Brassard was a key contributor as a second line centre in the 2017 run, including beating out Zibby’s Rangers in the second round. Zibby has exploded since then, and Brassard is holding on to his NHL career by his fingernails in Colorado right now. Sounds like a terrible trade in hindsight right? Well, it might have been, but in 2018 Dorion parlayed Brassard into a first round pick that turned into future Chabot D-partner Jacob Bernard-Docker and Filip Gustavsson, a goaltending prospect that turned a lot of heads during a recent hot streak, as good a bet as any for the team’s future number 1 netminder. Not bad for cleaning up after yourself.
This season, he brought in a bunch of vets that were shipped right back out by the deadline, recouping several picks in the process, but not before players like Erik Gudbranson and Braydon Coburn shared some wisdom and professionalism with the young players. These signings were mistakes, but at least they have picks to show for them. Think about it, most fans were furious when the 2017 team was dismantled and sold off. However, Mark Stone notwithstanding, most of these players are shadows of who they were in Ottawa and now appear to be shrewd moves to cut bait when they did. Erik Karlsson is the most overpaid player in the entire NHL right now. Kyle Turris is holding on to dear life as the 4th line center in Edmonton. Mark Borowiecki has 1 point in 22 games for a middle of the pack Nashville team. JG Pageau is doing well in NYI, but that 6 X $5 million contract would not look good here.
Nay: He tows the line for ownership a little too much - It’s no secret in Ottawa that everything money related goes through Eugene Melnyk and his thrifty ways. Things have gotten better in that department in the last year or so, but GMPD has more than a few occasions of spinning cost cutting measures as actual hockey moves. He always makes a point to thank Eugene Melnyk whenever he brings in a new player. It’s not hard to wish that he could handle ownership the way that Bryan Murray used to, with firmness and professionalism and an obvious “the buck stops here” attitude. Dorion does not express that sort of gravitas for a franchise that could sorely use some these days. It’s easy to wish that he was a little bit more of a straight shooter.
Yay: He’s a hometown boy who obviously loves this team - “Pierre from Orleans” is an Ottawa native who has given his career to the Ottawa Senators, at least if you disregard being an amateur scout for the Montreal Canadiens from 1994 to 2005. He’s grown as an executive and manager under the enviable tutelage of the immortal Bryan Murray. He inherited a team that was on its last shot. His giddy excitement when he makes a trade or a draft pick is infectious. His personality fits the general vibe of many Ottawa residents.
Yay: His draft record as both a GM and head scout is borderline legendary - His record as GM includes first round picks like Brady Tkachuk, Jacob Bernard Docker, Colin White, Tim Stutzle, Jake Sanderson, or later choices like Shane Pinto, Drake Batherson, Alex Formenton, Joey Daccord. Regardless of the round they’re taken, that’s one heck of a cupboard restock from the charred ashes of the 2017 roster. When he was head scout, all he did was find guys like Stone, Pageau, Hoffman, and Dzingel in the mid to late rounds while going off the board in the first round for future superstars like Zibanejad and Karlsson. Like any GM, he has a few whiffs, but at least half the league would trade their last 15 years of drafting history for Pierre Dorion’s track record.
Nay: He leaves a mess in the press box - No one wants to be left cleaning up splatter in the press box after an overtime loss to Toronto. Won’t anyone think of the poor arena janitors? We here at Sens Nation Hockey don’t forget the MVP efforts of those who brandish the mops and buckets.
So to conclude, is it a yay or nay on Pierre Dorion as General Manager of the Ottawa Senators? As we stand right now barely on the other side of a pandemic induced mid-April trade deadline, we give Pierre roughly a 60% Yay rating. The pieces are in place, but the real judgement will start next season, when expectations really start getting turned up. This coming off-season will be the defining one of his tenure as General Manager. Another finish in the bottom three in the standings next season, and we’ll be talking about Pierre Dorion’s tenure in the past tense. For now, we say Yay, but not without some Nay.
By this time next year, the pendulum will have swung more conclusively one way or the other.
By Andrew Sztein | Sens Nation Hockey