It finally happened. The Senators were due for another scandal or bad news story after it had only been under two months since the Erik Karlsson trade.
The Ottawa Citizen broke a story about a group of Senators players including Chris Wideman, Thomas Chabot, Chris Tierney, Matt Duchene, Dylan DeMelo, and Alex Formenton who trash-talked the coaching staff and laughed at their poor defensive play while they were in an Uber in Phoenix. They were obviously unaware that the conversation was being recorded, and it had been posted online (and later deleted). Here is the four minute conversation:
It's quite a bombshell of a story, if you ask me. None of what these players said is particularly unusual or different from what literally ever NHLer would say about their coaches or previous coaches. But this looks a lot worse because they got caught, and I summed up my thoughts on Twitter:
Gonna be really awkward in the room, but also like...There isn't a single hockey player out there who hasn't trashed talked some of their coaches before. This happens all the time, it's just it never gets recorded
It would be strange if somebody had never made fun of their boss before, just like these six players did. I can't imagine Guy Boucher or Martin Raymond being happy at all with what they heard, but they'd be pretty naive to think that things of that nature had never been said before. It's also just incredibly unfortunate that the video got posted, and it's a pretty slimy thing to do for whoever uploaded it. I'm assuming this person got paid, but it was at the expense of wreaking havoc on a dressing room that needed to be healed after last season.
Chris Wideman was the most vocal of the group, as he was getting the conversation going. I can't blame him for being bitter about the coaches considering he averages only 13:56 of ice-time per game, and has just 13:44 per game in his career. That's despite putting up good results in a sheltered role, too. Since he is a UFA in the summer and a player who seems most likely of the six to leave the Senators organization anyway, I seriously wonder if he is going to get traded soon.
The plan might have been to trade him before the deadline anyway even without this news, but I can certainly imagine a scenario where Boucher comes to Dorion asking to "fix" this issue. The funny thing is that the only thing that will fix the issue is by getting better coaches.
At the end of the day, I put zero amount of blame on the players for this. Sure, maybe they could've realized that the Uber driver might be taking in this information, but you also can't live your life expecting your conversations to be recorded. As I mentioned, literally every hockey player has talked about their coaches like this, and it speaks more about the Senators coaching staff than it does the players.
This quote from Wideman is incredibly damning of Martin Raymond:
"Do you notice that when (Raymond) runs the video, if you actually do pay attention, he doesn’t ever teach you anything? He just commentates what’s happening"
Duchene also added these two points:
"Here’s the other thing, too. We don’t change anything, ever. So why do we even have a meeting? I haven’t paid attention in three weeks.”
“Marty Raymond, the only coach in NHL history to have the worst power-play and the worst PK within a calendar year."
The man they are talking about is in charge of the special teams? That doesn't exactly give me much faith. Perhaps you could look at it from the other view and say that these players are lazy and aren't willing to learn, but they've been around long enough and if they're all in agreement about where the team sits, I'll take their word for it.
This is another embarrassing event to happen to the Senators, and it's unfortunate that the league has to focus on a circus once again. This is definitely not going to be the last we have heard of Ubergate.