It has been a refreshing change of pace lately to see the Ottawa Senators performing well, winning seven of their last ten games and reaching .500 on the year – a mark they never hit again last year after the sixth game of the season. Their success on the ice is not only a shift from the results over the past year plus, but also serves as a distraction from the continued concern over the team’s ownership issues and fiscal future. A new report today though will bring those problems back into focus.
The Kanata-based club has long desired a downtown Ottawa location for a new arena. The Senators rank dead last in the NHL so far this year in capacity percentage attendance, as they did in 2018-19 as well, and only part of that can be attributed to their play, while their inconvenient location also play a key role. The closest the team has come to finding a new home has been the LeBreton Flats development, an urban development project under the oversight of the National Capital Commission (NCC). At one point, the NCC was working closely with the RendezVous LeBreton Group, led by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. However, last December the NCC terminated their relationship with the RendezVous LeBreton Group amidst legal turmoil between Melnyk and his business partners and in February confirmed that their bid would not be considered. Yet, the NCC maintained that their plans for the project would be whatever best served the people of Ottawa, leaving open the possibility that an NHL arena could remain in the plans as a rental opportunity for the Senators. However, CTV Ottawa reports today that the LeBreton Flats development plan has finally been made public, and an NHL arena is not currently planned. There is space for a “sports complex” at the LeBreton Place location, but the likelihood of the Senators moving to the area looks doubtful at best at this point in time. This comes as another setback for the organization and yet another blow for a fan base with a growing resentment for ownership and management.
- The Boston Bruins plan to take their time with getting veteran forward David Backes back on the ice for game action. Per WEEI’s Matt Kalman, head coach Bruce Cassidy was happy to see Backes take part in morning skate on Saturday for the first time in several weeks, but wanted to temper expectations of an upcoming return. “Once you’ve had a few head injuries, you got to be really careful,” Cassidy stated, “we don’t need to rush anybody back right now, no matter who it is, especially in this situation. So, yes we’re being as careful as we need to be.” Backes, who has a history of concussions over his long NHL career, suffered yet another in a collision with Ottawa Senators forward Scott Sabourin earlier this month. Until now, he had only been training off-ice and skating by himself before or after practice and, as Cassidy warned, his non-contact participation in morning skate today does not indicate that he is ready to jump right back into the mix. Backes was only a part-time player for the Bruins even prior to his injury, so they will continue to be patient with the 35-year-old and wait for the proper time to bring him back.
- Eric Gelinas’ days in the NHL are likely over, but his hockey career continues overseas. The 28-year-old defenseman last played in the league in 2016-17 and left North America ahead of the 2018-19 campaign. After beginning last season with HC Slovan Bratislava of the KHL, Gelinas jumped over to Rogle BK of the SHL to finish the year, signing a contract through this season. However, with things going well in Sweden, Rogle announced that they have extended Gelinas through the 2021-22 season. With eight points in 15 games, Gelinas is doing well for himself offensively, even if he is only third among Rogle defensemen in scoring. More so, the team values his aggressive style and defensive ability and leadership. The former Devil and Avalanche defender has found a nice fit in the SHL and will continue to star in the league into his early thirties and possibly longer.