By Sylvain Godin | OSJ Staff
Well, the Senators at least had a few months where it was all about the hockey.
Today’s article will touch upon the current situation involving Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk and his recently fired C.E.O. Jim Little. Before delving into this, I will say the following: it is a good thing that Ottawa is on the road this week in the west; they need to be as far of this story as humanly possible and disassociate themselves from the management side, no matter how tough that may seem.
January 10th, 2020: Jim Little is hired by the Senators to be their CEO
Little is hired from seemingly a retired life to lead the franchise through one of the worst stretches of bad press in its history. The challenge itself is immense: Try to change the fanbase's bleak outlook on the franchise and the loss of faith in its owner. Furthermore, it’s well known at this point that Melnyk is ‘not’ an easy person to work with. Little, faced with this challenge, decides to come in and try to be the champion. However, something caught my attention while listening to an interview that already worried me about Little’s buy-in.
February 12th, 2020: Little's Interview on TSN.ca
This was a statement from Little in Ian Mendes's article on TSN.ca: “I will become the face of the franchise. It’s not a role that I’m seeking, but it’s a role that I’m told is required.”
Incoming personal rant: Ok. Am I the only one that immediately went “Oh boy. Does this guy even know what his job is going to be then?” Or maybe “That doesn’t sound like someone who has 100% bought into his role given.” When someone is already a bit negative about his new job, and part of the role is to be this face of the franchise, that's a red flag. From this point on, the skeptic in me kept thinking that there will be a lot more issues regarding this person and his role.
Someone who cannot embrace a new role cannot succeed in said role. It takes commitment to succeed and this left me with some serious doubts.
Meanwhile, the hockey side of the Senators is still committed, still gives fans a reason to watch and, for once, it seems like the team is on the rise. Ottawa fans should be looking forward to the draft, as they now have potentially 3 first round picks coming this year in a deep first round draft.
Have the Ottawa Senators finally begun their comeback, about to become a respected team around the league and in the eyes of the fanbase?
“Hi, I’m the Ottawa Senators. You must be wondering how a franchise that has challenged for a Stanley Cup in the last 20 years has become the laughingstock of the league. Well hold on to your hats, kids, it’s about to get ugly!”
March 4th, 2020: The Ottawa Senators Fire Jim Little.
I remember reading Twitter and seeing an alert come by my screen, stating that the Senators fired Jim Little. Part of me wanted to stop and laugh my head off, saying, “I knew this would happen”. Another part of me honestly got angry at things turning sour yet again.
Little was fired for what the team called “conduct inconsistent with the core values of the team and the NHL.”
Oh, for crying out loud. In a time where the league has been seeing a lot of coaches dismissed due to their conduct: How is it that this guy's past somehow flew under the Senators' radar? I was personally angry at the team, angry at Little for making the team team look bad. Just generally pissed off. Thankfully, the Steve Warne Project alleviated my temper with the ever so knowledgeable words of Jim and Steve who pointed out that this isn’t the first organization where people sneak through after acing an interview. Yours truly has also seen it happen in the workforce.
The fact remains that something happened in Little’s past. We now know that Little's ex-wife has gone online to suggest he was abusive, although there's been no proof of that nor any formal accusation. Another issue: Swearing and yelling at your boss, which Little has admitted to, will usually give a company just cause to terminate. Because of this, and because of the heightened awareness of misbehavior in the league, the Senators had no choice but to act quickly, and with the rumblings that Little and Melnyk weren’t seeing eye to eye anyway, it was probably best to terminate the relationship.
Little is on record denying what his ex wife has spoken about and may be looking at litigation against her. The Senators may also get slapped with another lawsuit – they're already fighting one from their former partner in the failed Lebreton Flats project. While litigation can happen to anyone in business, it just seems like the Senators owner is a magnet for such things. No matter what it's about, it reflects poorly on a club that's already got a poor image.
It had been a good run so far with no real big news and the focus of the media centered once more on the hockey side.
Unfortunately, the ugly side of business reared its head, yet again, and distracted everyone once more. Fans of this team have honestly had enough of bad news the last couple of years.