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Senators handle Uber video nightmare in very Senators way

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The Ottawa Senators latest PR disaster (it’s already getting the “-gate” treatment) surfaced on Monday, as the Ottawa Citizen reported that an Uber video leaked of players trashing assistant coach Marty Raymond.

In true current-day Senators fashion, it seems like it’s only getting stranger from there.

One very “Senators” factor is that the players involved didn’t answer questions from the media after their morning skate on Tuesday. Instead, Mark Stone, Zack Smith, Mark Borowiecki, and head coach Guy Boucher were among those speaking for Thomas Chabot, Dylan DeMelo, Matt Duchene, Alex Formenton Chris Tierney, Chris Wideman and Colin White.

It’s crucial to note that, while the video leaked recently, it appears to have happened on Oct. 29, in the middle of a four-game losing streak where Ottawa lost to Vegas on Oct. 28 and the Coyotes on Oct. 30. That context helps explain why Stone and Boucher were among those explaining that the matter was already addressed, and that the team knew about it “long before” the footage surfaced.

“It was dealt with internally, the way it should be, we’re going to move forward and grow from it,” Stone said. ” … This is only going to make our team stronger moving forward.”

Such comments make you wonder if the video was leaked intentionally, or at least by an unhappy front office member. Considering how things are going – poorly – for the Senators from a PR perspective, management hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt.

Update: TSN’s Ian Mendes went in-depth to explain how the Senators knew about the video in advance, and more.

To paraphrase Heath Ledger’s Joker from “The Dark Knight,” what doesn’t kill the Senators might not make them stronger; it might just them stranger.

It’s tough to believe that any of this will really make the Senators kill penalties more effectively, score more frequently on the power play, or listen more closely in team meetings. Instead, this is just a reminder that the bloom is off the rose as they’ve fallen to 5-6-3 after a promising 4-2-1 start.

After all, it’s not exactly as if the Senators have rallied since … whenever this mystery team meeting took place. They’ve lost six of their last seven games, with their only win (4-2 against Buffalo on Thursday) immediately being followed by the Sabres getting revenge to the tune of a 9-2 shellacking on Saturday.

Now, to be fair, it’s not that unreasonable to imagine players on all 31 teams having conversations like the one Duchene & Co. enjoyed while unknowingly on candid camera. Zack Smith pointed out as much, saying that if a camera followed him around during his career, he doesn’t think he’d still “be in the league.” Some of this boils down to the fact that technology opens the valve for leaks like these to happen more and more often.

So, perhaps the distinguishing factor is that this surfaced, rather than being contained.

Whether it comes down to self-inflicted wounds or mishandling crises that would challenge even the most stable management, it’s been a dizzying stretch of terrible developments for the Senators.

  • If management had any sense of the trouble brewing between Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson, then it makes the drama that much tougher to stomach, particularly since embattled GM Pierre Dorion settled for pennies on the dollar in the eventual trades.
  • Now-former-assistant GM Randy Lee resigned over charges of harassing a hotel shuttle driver.
  • There are all sorts of questions about the Senators front office. A litany of moves look questionable, from the worse-by-the-day Duchene trade (and the draft pick implications), as well as Alex Burrows’ failed experiment ending with a buyout. Perhaps just as pressing: does Dorion really have any faith in Boucher, considering how he undermined him heading into what would be a turbulent summer?
  • Fair or not, a lot of the turmoil can be traced to owner Eugene Melnyk, whose bizarre video with Mark Borowiecki seems more and more like comic relief amidst all these nightmares.

Would the Senators even employ the same coaching staff that players criticized if their owner wasn’t so, um, budget-conscious? Could a crisis been averted or at least minimized if Karlsson was moved at the trade deadline? How unhappy are people behind the scenes? It’s easy to see why Senators fans aren’t pleased with many things, with the team’s owner ranking as possibly the biggest area of discontent.

The Senators ultimately face some crucial decisions after this latest headache emerged.

It would be rash to trade every player involved in that video, yet one cannot help but wonder if this is yet another sign that Duchene could find himself traded once again (the speedy, occasionally attention-lapsing forward is in a contract year). Chris Wideman is also slated to be a UFA. Conversely, Stone was not in that video and was instead tasked with facing the media, and he’s also in a contract year. What will Dorion do with players like these? How many of these players are part of the solution, particularly when all of these leaks feel like telltale signs of a sinking ship?

The Senators’ problems run deep, and putting them off might be why they’re in such a mess. Management has to start digging out of this hole, or the nightmares will just continue.

As poorly as the Sens have been playing, it’s probably a relief that they’re getting back on the ice, as Ottawa hosts the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Of course, if we’ve learned anything from the Senators, it’s that things can go sour fast … so expect fans to boo their own team, probably very soon.

Update: Matt Duchene spoke to the media following Ottawa’s 7-3 win against the New Jersey Devils.

Duchene made a brief statement before answering questions from reporters.

“I want to take this opportunity to extend my absolutely sincerest apologies to Marty Raymond,” Duchene said. “He’s a heck of a person and coach, and he did not deserve what we said. That’s all I can say on it right now, unfortunately. I sincerely, sincerely mean that, on behalf of myself and my teammates.”

Duchene said the win was big for the Senators, especially given the events over the past couple of days.

“We’ve dealt with things and everything in here is good,” he said. “Just how I feel, it’s hard for me to even talk about it because it makes me emotional. That’s not the person I am or any of us.”

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Two suspensions in one week for Senators’ Borowiecki

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Well, at least Mark Borowiecki doesn’t have to worry about just being the guy who interviewed Senators owner Eugene Melnyk in that deeply strange video.

Now the veteran defenseman can also be known for … something that’s quite a bit worse. Borowiecki has been suspended three games by the NHL, a verdict that came during the same week as his one-game suspension. That’s almost impressive in a bizarro sort of way.

Let’s review Borowiecki’s wacky week:

Tuesday, Oct. 23: Borowiecki delivered this elbow in Boston’s 4-1 win against Ottawa, which netted him a one-game suspension.

Friday, Oct. 26: This was the game he sat out. The Avalanche beat the Senators 6-3 in Matt Duchene‘s first game against his old team.

Sunday, Oct. 28: In his first game back from that one-game suspension, Borowiecki was ejected for a hit on Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin.

Monday, Oct. 29: The NHL handed him that three-game suspension today. Here’s the hit and the league explanation:

So, with that, Borowiecki’s next week should be pretty uneventful:

Tue, Oct 30: suspended as Senators visit Coyotes.
Thu, Nov 1: suspended as Senators host Sabres.
Sat, Nov 3: suspended as Senators close out home-and-home by facing Sabres in Buffalo.
Sun, Nov 4: eligible to return against Lightning in Ottawa.

This immediate turnaround after Borowiecki said all the right things about changing the way he’s playing doesn’t speak well to him learning much of a lesson, but perhaps sitting three games will do the trick.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Senators’ Borowiecki ejected in return from suspension

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(UPDATE: Borowiecki will have another chat with the DoPS on Monday.)

Mark Borowiecki did not play for the Ottawa Senators on Friday night as he was serving a one-game suspension for elbowing Boston Bruins defenseman Urho Vaakanainen last week.

He might be hearing from the NHL’s department of player safety once again.

In the first period of Sunday’s game agains the Vegas Golden Knights, Borowiecki’s first game back after serving his suspension, he was given a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for charging Cody Eakin.

Here is a look at the play.

Eakin did not return.

The DoPS looks at everything, and the first thing they do as part of the process is simply look at the play itself, eliminating all names, past histories, and results of the play, to try and determine if it is worthy of supplemental discipline. If it is, that is when past histories and the result will come into play. And that would not be a good thing for Borowiecki.

[Related: Senators’ Borowiecki suspended for elbowing]

Not only was the player he hit injured as a result of the play, but Borowiecki has already been suspended two times in his career and was literally just returning from the second of those suspensions.

The Senators ended up losing on Sunday to the Golden Knights in overtime by a 4-3 margin.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Senators’ Borowiecki suspended one game for elbowing

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The NHL’s department of player safety announced on Wednesday evening that Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki has been suspended one game for an elbowing incident that took place in Tuesday’s game against the Boston Bruins.

The incident happened around the front of the Ottawa net when Borowiecki deliberately elbowed Bruins rookie defenseman Urho Vaakanainen.

Vaakanainen, the Bruins’ first-round pick in 2017, exited the game with a concussion and did not return.

Here is the play again, as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

Borowiecki was not penalized on the play.

He will miss the Senators’ game against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night and be eligible to return to the lineup on Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights.

This incident comes just a couple of days after Borowiecki was unhappy with the lack of a suspension for Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher for a hit he delivered on Borowiecki in a recent game.

Said Borowiecki, via the Ottawa Sun:

“I think you’ve got to make sure guys aren’t taking liberties on certain players because of who they are and because they’re strong. That was a hit I don’t like and I wasn’t happy about it. I told Gallagher I thought it was a dangerous hit. I understand George has an incredibly hard job and I respect him for it. I certainly never in a million years would want that position, and I think he’s taken it head-on and he realizes that there’s going to be criticism. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Now Borowiecki is the one serving the suspension.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Bruins rookie Vaakanainen concussed by Borowiecki; Discipline coming?

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(UPDATE: Borowiecki will have a Wednesday hearing with the NHL DoPS.)

Already playing without a couple of defenders (Torey Krug, Kevan Miller) the Boston Bruins lost another one on Tuesday night when rookie Urho Vaakanainen, playing in just his second NHL game, had to leave their game against the Ottawa Senators after he was elbowed in the face by Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki during a scramble around the front of the Ottawa net.

The Bruins later announced that Vaakanainen has already been diagnosed with a concussion.

You can see the play in the video above.

He was not penalized on the play, but that is not a good look for Borowieckiy because you can clearly see him look at Vaakanainen as he skates in and deliberately raise his elbow to hit him in the head.

I get that the front of the net is a tough area, but this isn’t 1980 anymore and that type of needless play should not be looked at as “okay” just because there is a scramble.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety will almost certainly review that play and he could be be facing some discipline for it. If the NHL determines it is a play worthy of discipline that could be bad news for Borowiecki because he has been suspended once before and the player on the receiving end of his hit was injured. Those two things always factor into the punishment.

Vaakanainen was the selected by the Bruins in the first-round of the 2017 draft with the No. 18 overall pick.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.