The Ottawa Senators seem to have some problems.
On the ice they were one of the worst teams in the NHL this past season and entered an offseason where it seemed likely that their franchise player — defenseman Erik Karlsson — was going to be traded.
Now that the offseason has actually arrived things have managed to get infinitely worse.
It all started around the NHL scouting combine when assistant general manager Randy Lee was charged with harassing a hotel shuttle bus driver. That hotel employee has since filed an order of protection against Lee, who will miss a portion of the NHL draft as he will be due in court.
The Senators only comment on the matter to this point has been that they are reviewing the situation.
On Tuesday, things became even more bizarre.
It was then that the Ottawa Citizendropped a bombshell of a report that states Karlsson’s wife, Melinda, has filed an order of protection against Monika Caryk, the fiancee of Karlsson’s teammate, Mike Hoffman, due to “a campaign of harassment that has plagued the Karlssons after the death of their son and through much of the last NHL season.”
From the Citizen‘s report:
“Monika Caryk has uttered numerous statements wishing my unborn child dead,” says Melinda Karlsson’s sworn statement to the court.
“She also uttered that she wished I was dead and that someone should ‘take out’ my husband’s legs to ‘end his career.’
“Monika Caryk has posted over 1,000 negative and derogatory statements about me as a professional.”
There is a lot to unpack here, but what makes it all especially disturbing is the sequence of events between November of 2017 and March of this year.
It was in November that the Karlssons announced that they were expecting their first child.
Tragically, their son, Axel Michael, was stillborn in March. Shortly after the passing of Axel, Karlsson publicly blasted an Internet troll in the comments section of his Instagram post mourning the loss of their son.
The comment that sparked Karlsson’s response was left by the username “@Sandydandy45” and said: “I feel bad for the baby he didn’t have a chance with Melinda popping pain killer medication everyday.”
Karlsson wrote in response: “How dare you. You have been making fake accounts and buying hacked ones for months to harass me and my wife but this is an all new low even for you. You are a disgusting person.”
The Citizen notes that the “@SandyDandy45” account, as well as a Twitter account that used an anti-bullying event to criticize Melinda, have since been deleted.
Hoffman, who has been a member of the Senators since the 2010 season, two years after Karlsson made his debut with the team, issued a statement to the Citizen.
Reached on Tuesday afternoon, Hoffman said, “There’s nothing really for me to say, at this time. That’s all I can say.”
In a subsequent comment, Hoffman said, “There is a 150 per cent chance that my fianceé Monika and I are not involved in any of the accusations that have been pursued (that are) coming our way. We totally understand there’s no place for cyberbullying.
“We’ve offered to co-operate and do anything it takes to find out who is doing this, and support (the Karlssons). Obviously this is a tough time that they’re going through, and we want to find out who is doing this, because for some reason it’s coming into our court, and it’s 150 per cent that it’s not us.
“We have nothing to hide. We’re willing to co-operate in any way to solve this and figure it out, and prove that it wasn’t us.”
More from the Citizen in terms of the ongoing investigation:
A peace bond, issued under section 810 of the Criminal Code, is similar to a restraining order, which typically only applies in family court situations. A peace bond is an order of protection issued by a justice of the peace when a person fears injury to themselves or to their property, or fears that someone is likely to commit a criminal offence, though one has not yet been committed.
This newspaper has also learned that there is an active Ottawa police investigation into the criminal harassment (stalking) allegations and that it is being probed by central district detectives. No criminal charges have been laid against Caryk and none of the allegations against her has been tested in court. No conditions have been set out in the bond either, since it appears to not have been served on Caryk.
Given the sub-par performance of the team on the ice this past season, the financial situation of the organization, and the fact Karlsson is a free agent after this upcoming season, it has been speculation that he could be traded this summer. Hoffman, who still has two years remaining on his current contract that pays him more than $5 million per season, is also rumored to be on the trade block.
UPDATE: The Senators have issued a statement:
“We are investigating this matter in co-operation with the NHL and will take whatever steps are necessary to protect the safety and privacy of our players and their families.”
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.