The Ottawa Senators may have a chance to keep their franchise defenseman after all, but if I was a betting man I would argue that this is really no chance at all.
Over the past few days all eyes have been on the Ottawa Senators as talks have resurfaced indicating that there is likely to be a trade involving Erik Karlsson prior to the start of training camps across the National Hockey League. It's been Sportsnet NHL insider Elliotte Friedman that has been at the forefront of the reports regarding the increase in trade activity around Karlsson and although he has gone out of his way to be very careful on this topic he has dropped some interesting tidbits.
Earlier this week Friedman's comments indicated that he believed the Dallas Stars were perhaps the most "legitimate" contenders for Karlsson's services and he was also the insider who initially revealed that the Vancouver Canucks had shown interest in the possibility of acquiring the Senators superstar. Now Friedman has dropped perhaps his most interesting nugget of information yet but unfortunately I believe it's one that is likely to give false hope to an already downtrodden Senators fan base.
During an interview on Sportsnet 960 Friedman was asked a question that we have not heard posed to him very many times this summer, is there any way that Erik Karlsson would consider signing a long term deal with the Senators and remain in Ottawa? Surprisingly Friedman answered in the affirmative but there was a giant condition attached to it, Karlsson will only consider remaining if the team is no longer on the direction of owner Eugene Melnyk.
“Not under this ownership,” surmised Friedman as per Nichols on Hockey. “I have said a couple of times that I thought if the team was sold or he believed the team was going to be sold that might change things. I just don’t see it under this ownership. I just feel that he doesn’t think they’re going to have a chance to win.”
This has to feel like a crushing blow for a Senators fan base that already is desperate for new ownership. Melnyk has burned any social capital that he had among his own fans long ago and has quickly become one of the most reviled owners in all of professional sports, certainly among the most hated in the entire National Hockey League. For a fan base, one that would already love to see new ownership, to have to sit back and watch their very best player walk away from a city that he loves because of terrible owner is nothing short of heartbreaking.
This is now also another unfortunate situation for Melnyk himself, although you certainly have to put a great deal of the blame on his shoulders considering his position as owner of the organization. Melnyk was already one of the most unpopular figures in Ottawa and there have been reports that both Jim Watson, the Mayor of Ottawa, and Daniel Alfredsson, arguably the greatest Senators' player of all tine, have been working behind the scenes to try and help a change in ownership move forward. The addition of this new Karlsson drama will only make him even more unpopular in a city that wants nothing more than to see him gone.