Listen up, I’m very happy with Pierre Dorion’s performance as the GM of the Sens through this rebuild. Sure, he may have lucked into some great results on trades during the teardown (*Cough* Norris and Stützle+ for Karlsson) but overall this rebuild is right on track because of his work. It could even be considered ahead of schedule, despite the Sens being among the last 10 teams in the league again this season. The future is surely bright and Sens fans are beginning to have a more positive outlook things in general.
He’s done a satisfactory job up to this point. Good enough to keep his job, in my opinion.
There are fans who would disagree because they associate Dorion’s tenure with extreme pain and suffering, but they can’t ignore the fact that this rebuild has been a success, as sour as they may be. Pierre stripped the roster right down to the chassis and put in place legitimate, brand new, high quality parts that should be a component of this team’s core for many years in the future.
Great Job, Pierre. Kudos, you iPad loving, Navan arena frequenting, cup throwing, chip eating executive, you!
I’m proud that Pierre was able to get us to this point, but that doesn’t mean I think he couldn’t use the help of an experienced NHL executive for the next phase of this rebuild: Levelling up from a bottom feeder to legitimate playoff team.
With that being said, let’s take a look at a few options Eugene and the Sens could explore this offseason to insulate their front office by bringing in a President of Hockey Operations. Eugene, if you’re reading this: Budget for one of these guys if you wanna see that Unparalleled success you’ve been talking about.
(and before you go off on me about how these are all ‘old hockey men’ - guess what? That’s what this team needs right now)
Too soon? In a shocking turn of events. The New York Rangers have fired John Davidsson today as their POHO, after just shy of 2 years, along with Jeff Gorton, who was GM.
Apparently, this news has nothing to do with the recent statement put out by the Rangers social media in regards to the Tom Wilson incident from Monday, but that’s neither here nor there (I also don't really believe that to be true).
I’m just going to come out and say it: This is the clear number one choice to fill this position for any team in the league, including Ottawa, and he’ll have no trouble finding another gig which means he’s unlikely to come at a Eugene friendly cost - but also, this is not the kind of position you would want to fill at a discount, anyway.
Davidson has 15 years of experience as POHO over tenures with St. Louis (2006-2012 - Mutually terminated contract), Columbus (2012-2019 - resigned), and New York (2019-2021 - fired). He is extremely well respected in the league and would make the perfect set of eyes to help Dorion evaluate where the team is currently at just like he did with Jeff Gorton, who despite also being fired, did a solid job of pulling off some deals that made the Rangers a competitive young team in the very difficult East Division this season.
Dorion is going to need help negotiating what will hopefully be long term deals with key RFA’s Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson and Artyom Zub. Davidson has been a big part of completing some doozy signings in his day, and his experience and expertise in that department would be a great addition to the Sens front office.
As for how likely it would be that he even considers working for Ottawa; I wouldn’t count on it. He won’t come cheap and just like it is with player Free agents, I don’t think executives are jumping at the chance to live in Ottawa, let alone to work directly under Eugene Melnyk. John is used to calling his own shots and I’m not sure Eugene would take the back seat he would need to for a guy like this to do his thing and commit to joining Sens brass.
Also fired this season (by the Penguins), Jim Rutherford is another very well respected NHL executive who has been around the block a time or two and has a wealth of experience with building around Teams who are in or around their window to win.
He’s expressed his interest to return to the NHL since his being relieved of his duties in Pitt and would make a welcome addition to Ottawa’s management group.
He helped build the Hurricanes cup winning team in 2006 and he won 2 more cups with the Penguins in 2016 and again 2017 (Anyone here remember that years playoffs?).
Another guy who calls his own shots though, so I would say it’s unlikely that he looks at Ottawa as an option as long as Eugene is the owner here. There were some rumours that part of the reason he resigned as GM in Pittsburgh was because ownership was too hands on and wouldn’t let him operate autonomously. I can’t speak to how hands on Eugene is with Hockey Operations, right now, but I assume he would need to remove himself from any of those decisions if they hope to bring in Rutherford.
Shero hasn’t worked in the NHL since he was let go by the Devils, who replaced him with Lou Lamoriello, in 2020. However, expect him to jump back into the NHL ranks as early as next season, if given the opportunity.
The ultimate roster tweaker, Shero had much success as the GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning the cup in 2009 and making the finals the year before that. His fingerprints were also still all over the 2016 and 2017 PIT cup winning teams.
His work with the Devils following that wasn’t what I would call a success, but he did make some noticeable maneuvers, including signing Taylor Hall as a Free agent and acquiring P.K Subban via trade. This tells me he is bold enough for the work that might need to be done in Ottawa down the road. His outlook might be just what Dorion needs - as it’s likely that Ottawa will have to part with one or two of Pierre’s beloved prospects or young players in order to tip the team over the top in their window of contention.
Consider some of the bold acquisitions Shero made when the Penguins were contenders that eventually led him to the aforementioned cup in 2009: Acquiring veterans like Gary Roberts, Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis and Mark Recchi to surround his young core. Dupuis was the only player still around for the 2009 cup, but to me, those type of solid vets are the kind contenders need to acquire to win.
Of the 3 listed options. I think Shero would be the most likely to consider inking something with the Sens.
Of course, the organization could just as easily decide to stay the course and put all their eggs in the basket that is Pierre Dorion as the sole leader of Senators Hockey Operations. In fact, with the current climate of the economy due to the pandemic along with the reputation of ownership, this would be the betting odds favourite.
Another option would be to allow Pierre Dorion’s contract to expire at the end of next season and simply hire a GM with more experience who is better suited to create a contender.
Ball’s in your court, Eugene.