In the end, Erik Karlsson was not traded by the 3 p.m. deadline, allowing Senators fans to draw their first clean breath in two days.
Then came the nagging second thought — that Karlsson is now likely be traded at or around the NHL entry draft in June. General manager Pierre Dorion promised to make Karlsson a contract offer “if he’s here on July 1,” hardly reassuring. One former NHL GM termed that comment “peculiar.” Karlsson is under contract until 2019.
Thus begins the awkward dance between a fan base and its apparently lame duck superstar over the final six weeks of what is undoubtedly the most distressing, gut-wrenching season in the 26-year history of the franchise.
Since 1992, the team has been up and down, lousy and near-championship-great, they’ve been flush and bankrupt, but never has there been such a disconnect between the hockey club’s operation and its patrons. In Ottawa, the Senators are more than a sports team, they are a community treasure, our one major league entity. And people are heartsick that, around the league and around town, they have become an embarrassment and laughing-stock, 29th place and with no direction home, to borrow from Dylan.
Even in the fast-paced world of professional sport, the turn of events involving the Senators over the past nine months is surely unprecedented.
Flash back to the last week of May, 2017 when the Senators were one overtime goal away from reaching the Stanley Cup final (Pittsburgh scored that goal, in double OT, eliminating Ottawa).
This was not long after Dorion had said of Karlsson:
“They always say God rested on the seventh day. But I think on the eighth day he created Erik Karlsson.”