He Isn’t the Senators’ Only Problem, Though
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From the 1976 to 1989, there was a baseball player named Dale Murphy who was the face of the Atlanta Braves franchise, for some reason. He was expected to provide much of the offensive support for a terrible team, and in return took a lot of money. After only one postseason appearance in 1982, the Braves finally wised up and dumped his ass onto the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990, thus putting Atlanta on the road to an impressive stretch of Pennant wins in the National League.
Philadelphia, however, floundered like a seafood restaurant that has to hide its sanitation grade. Then the Phillies wised up and dumped him on the Colorado Rockies in 1993, lightening their load. Then the Phillies had a very memorable World Series run. But don’t weep for the Rockies; after Murphy retired they found their berth in the playoff in 1995.
Why am I telling you this? Because Matt Duchene might be the next pro sports Dale Murphy. Strung along with the stories of his displeasure with the Colorado (Avalanche, not the Rockies. No, the OTHER Rockies. But not the Rockies, the Avalanche), he was mercifully moved to an Ottawa Senators team who looked to be pushing themselves all-in after a near Stanley Cup appearance, but since has seemed to have pushed their organization over a cliff. While on fire. Into a swamp filled with malaria-laden mosquitoes.
Meanwhile the Avalanche popped into a surprise playoff spot and did well for themselves, while Joe Sakic likely saved his job. Vegas was taking bets on who would leave the Mile High City first, him or Duchene. Ottawa lost its ability to win, Eugene Melnyk lost his damn mind, and they are possibly about to lose the face of their beloved franchise (and Captain Morgan impressionist) Erik Karlsson. So I ask you this: Did Matt Duchene unearth and take Dale Murphy’s cursed Tiki Idol while hiking the mountains of Colorado, like in the episode of the Brady Bunch, The Tiki Caves (guest staring Vincent Price)?
But hang on, this drama ain’t over yet, not by a country mile! Even though it would seem that the dust has settled on this trade and the winners and losers have been announced, Ottawa put an interesting wrinkle in the stipulation that nobody saw coming at the time of the trade. While the Sens shoved all the chips onto the table into the pot including their 2018 first round pick; something they’d hoped to be around number 30 or 31. But they protected it so that if it was a top 10 pick, Colorado would get 2019’s first-rounder instead. Nobody expected them to crash and burn as badly as they did, even Karlsson. While they finished with the second-worst record, they were awarded the number four pick after Bill Daily told everyone to step off, Carolina and Montreal are doing the hump jumping everyone but Buffalo.
To get mauled in a trade like this but protect their fourth overall pick might be seem like a hockey no-brainer, but the league should really look into the head injury thing, because Ottawa approached the powers that be to see if they could deal with Colorado to MAKE THEM TAKE THE FOURTH OVERALL PICK ANYWAY!!! Why? Because they might put themselves in mega-hey-Toronto-you-think-you-know-what-scorched-earth-is-but-hold-my-beer-rebuild! They figure that if they can’t get a top three pick this year and they’re very like to lose their franchise player in Karlsson, they’re gonna gamble that they will be better at being worse next season and hopefully land Jack Hughes.
Gary Bettman, being an agent of chaos, said “sure, why not?” Could this work? I mean, I guess. Could it all blow up very badly in their faces? Oh yeah! All I’m saying is don’t be surprised if you see Colorado approaching the stage on June 22 early on laughing manically the whole way.
Jim Howard is a Carolina Hurricanes fan and reformed baseball card collector who is trying to keep the hockey collection from becoming overwhelming. And while he wishes he could give Crosby the business with his mitt, he is in fact NOT the goalie for the Red Wings. ■