NOW’S NOT A GOOD TIME TO BE DO­RION

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - DON BREN­NAN dbren­nan@postmedia.com

There was a time not so long ago when you would very much have wanted to be in Pierre Do­rion’s shoes.

He was a re­spected NHL scout who sud­denly had a chance to be the gen­eral man­ager of a team in his home­town.

Does it get any bet­ter? Ap­par­ently, yes.

Do­rion’s first coach hir­ing would be Guy Boucher, who hadn’t been able to get a job in the league for years. Do­rion adamantly stated Boucher was his first and only choice. He was con­fi­dent in a de­ci­sion that turned out to be a very good one.

In their first year together, they led the Ottawa Sen­a­tors to the Eastern Con­fer­ence final. Do­rion was a fi­nal­ist for the GM of the year award, while Boucher re­ceived votes for the Jack Adams Award as best coach.

This was go­ing to be a good, if not great, mar­riage.

But ap­par­ently it also got worse.

Less than 12 months later, you wouldn’t want to be Do­rion. The team he runs is screwed. Do­rion has to trade Mike Hoff­man, but he can’t. No team is go­ing to touch Hoff­man. Not un­less the po­lice quickly con­clude their in­ves­ti­ga­tion and find that his fi­ancée Monika Caryk is in­no­cent of se­ri­ous ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions made by Melinda Karls­son.

If such turns out to be the case, Melinda will be li­able for defama­tion. She knew this go­ing in.

Do­rion has to trade Erik Karls­son be­fore the draft to get picks that the­o­ret­i­cally will de­velop a year sooner than the ones he would get for Karls­son next year, but he can’t. Not while there’s still a shadow of a doubt as to which of Melinda or Caryk is telling the truth.

The one that isn’t could spread more poi­son that would de­stroy her man’s next team.

Do­rion promised a group of fans he wouldn’t move Karls­son be­fore the draft, that he would of­fer him an eight-year con­tract ex­ten­sion on July 1.

That would be a waste of time now un­less Do­rion can some­how guar­an­tee the cap­tain that Caryk will no longer be a part of the Sen­a­tors fam­ily by the start of train­ing camp.

There’s only one way Do­rion can do that. Once no other team makes a deal for Hoff­man or claims him on waivers, Do­rion has to tell Karls­son the Sen­a­tors will pay the speedy winger mil­lions to stay at home in Water­loo for the next two sea­sons.

Even in that un­likely sce­nario, Karls­son will most cer­tainly want as far away from this crap show as pos­si­ble, pri­mar­ily be­cause of the ring­leader — and we’re not re­fer­ring to Do­rion.

There has been spec­u­la­tion the Sen­a­tors knew of this wives and girl­friends soap opera — by the way, if it does be­come a movie, Elisha Cuth­bert will play her­self — for most of the sea­son. Yours truly was even guilty of that.

It made sense. Do­rion has talked about the open-door pol­icy he has with Karls­son, say­ing the two have a strong re­la­tion­ship and con­tin­u­ally dis­cuss all mat­ters. Wouldn’t some­thing like this have been brought to the GM’S at­ten­tion? Wouldn’t Do­rion have traded Hoff­man the minute he found out?

Of course, the would be if Karls­son be­lieved all along that it was Caryk wag­ing the at­tack on Melinda. But what if he didn’t? What if Karls­son and the team only thought it was some whack job of a fan who was ha­rass­ing Melinda un­til af­ter the trade dead­line? What if any ev­i­dence they had against Caryk didn’t come to light un­til the sea­son’s end?

Another the­ory bounc­ing around is that even if Do­rion was told of a problem be­tween Monika and Caryk and knew he had to deal Hoff­man, he was in­structed not to by owner Eu­gene Mel­nyk.

It’s con­ceiv­able.

Af­ter trading for Matt Duch­ene and giv­ing up first-round picks in the process, Mel­nyk was all in for this sea­son. Trading away your top goal-scor­ing for­ward would be hurt­ful to that cause. Bet­ter to tell your peo­ple the scan­dal would set­tle on its own.

Either way, Do­rion’s hands were tied.

If, in try­ing to trade Hoff­man dur­ing the last few weeks, he has failed to men­tion the al­le­ga­tions against Caryk, well, that’s a whole other story. Ri­val GMS might have a lit­tle trou­ble trust­ing him go­ing for­ward. But re­ally, do you blame Do­rion? He would be able to make a trade if no one knew.

Oh, and the next man in his po­si­tion who doesn’t try to pull a fast one on a fel­low GM will be the first.

Mean­while, there are fans out there say­ing Do­rion should not use the fourth over­all pick in the up­com­ing draft, but in­stead trade it or give it to Colorado as part of the Duch­ene deal. But do you re­ally think Do­rion would bank on the Sen­a­tors be­ing worse next sea­son, which would give them another shot at a first over­all pick?

If the Sen­a­tors fin­ish 31st in 2018-19, it’s tough to see Do­rion still be­ing their GM.

There is a sug­ges­tion that Do­rion trades down in the draft, maybe gives up the fourth pick for the 27th and gets an as­set in re­turn, then flips the Avalanche the 27th pick. It would be a nice idea if it wasn’t an Ottawa orig­i­nal pick he had to give up.

It seems fash­ion­able to put a lot of blame on Do­rion for what’s go­ing on with the Sen­a­tors th­ese days, but he was, is and will re­main a smart hockey man. He could use some help, how­ever, but that call has to come from up top.

A tall, wise fel­low summed up the Sen­a­tors sit­u­a­tion by say­ing this: “Or­ga­ni­za­tional stan­dards are set at the top. Ev­ery­one takes their cues from that.”

In other words, the Sen­a­tors are screwed.

No, you wouldn’t want to be Do­rion right now.

ERNEST DOROSZUK

Sen­a­tors GM Pierre Do­rion has an un­en­vi­able mess on his hands as he tries to im­prove the for­tunes of the flag­ging fran­chise.

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