Author’s Note: First of all, and due to the general satirical nature of this article, I want to break character here and send my condolences to the Melnyk family at this time. Rest in peace, Eugene.
(Also, like many of my articles, I relied heavily on cap friendly to gather the necessary details.)
Unloved by the author himself and never completed, Franz Kafka’s novels have challenged and fascinated readers, critics and scholars for the better part of a century. Whether it was due to drug abuse, internal turmoil or financial hardship, the Beach Boys gave up recording Smile in the late 1960s and since then he’s taken on the legacy of the hypothetical greatest album. popular music. A budget and logistical nightmare, producers pulled capital from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune in pre-production in the 70s. How much could we have gained culturally from this work if it had been completed in their time? Have we gained more as a society sifting through fragments for decades?
I ask myself these questions and then I think of the general manager of the Ottawa Senators, Pierre Dorion. The majority of fans tend to either buy into Dorion’s ideology as a good general manager at the dawn of hockey greatness, or see him as a good scout who probably finds himself in over his head with all management. What if there was something beyond this dichotomy?
Personally, I have to believe in a third theory which suggests that Dorion may not be out to create a winning hockey team for the sake of it. What if Dorion simply engaged in the art of asset management as an art form in itself? What if we hadn’t learned to appreciate his job?
Looking back now on Dorion’s five years of change as general manager, I can’t tell you for life if he made the Senators better or worse. What we can say for sure is that he has been constantly moving furniture for half a decade like someone writing a doctoral dissertation in Feng Shui. Once in a while, Dorion makes a great trade that inspires confidence in the fanbase, then, without fail, he’ll make a conversely bad trade or acquisition afterwards. Either the muses have spoken to him and set him on a quest to perfect the art of absolute mediocrity, or, being the good Orleans native that he is, he cannot in good conscience win a trade without passing on good fortune to the next GM. in line.
Ok, I probably should have started a few paragraphs earlier by clarifying what I mean. Let’s start with the acquisition of Dylan Gambrell. I love that one. You start by acquiring San Jose’s seventh-round pick for Christian Jaros (sweetheart) in January, then you trade that pick directly to San Jose in October. You get a nice perfect symmetry with no leftovers (sorry Jack Kopacka). I like the shuffling even more because both players cleared waivers, so the swap seems almost completely pointless. So, “Why trade?” you can ask. Well, why mow the lawn if the grass is growing back? Why make food presentable if you’re only sticking it in your pie hole anyway? Well, it’s called art. Have you heard of art? It’s Zen in the art of swapping hockey players without making your hockey team better or worse and it’s magic.
“What immortal hand or eye Dare to frame your fearsome symmetry? asked William Blake. Pierre Dorion did. Everyone loves the crafts of Vladislav Namestnikov (yes, we are visiting the Dorion exhibition at the gallery right now). You trade your good fourth-round pick to the Rangers in October 2019 and you get the bad fourth-round pick from Colorado back in February 2020 (and you don’t even want to know what he did with that pick. We don’t talk in front of the children). Speaking of fourth round, critics are also raving about the fact that Dorion traded former fourth round Nick Paul for former fourth round Mathieu Joseph. with a fourth-round pick and let’s not forget that Ottawa withheld 44% of Paul’s salary. Don’t tell me it’s not some kind of art four centered because it really sounds like it to me.
A Logan Brown trade for Zach Senyshyn always made too much sense not to happen and it took a long time but we finally got it (sort of). Besides Ottawa’s connection for the latter, the Senators and Bruins needed to wash their hands of failed first-round picks. Ottawa drafted Brown, offering Charlie MacAvoy to Boston while the Bruins in turn drafted Senyshyn, offering Thomas Chabot to the Senators. It took two separate trades, but Dorion did it and they both include playthroughs on the draft picks involved (and both players have cleared waivers again this season, making you question your own sanity!). Dorion turned a (probably) fourth round into a (definitely) fifth round and possibly a seventh round. If those numbers sound familiar, it’s because Dorion dispatched fourth-rounders for Josh Brown and Zach Sanford and collected fifth-rounders (and got seventh-rounders for Braydon Coburn and Erik Gudbranson (pace is everywhere)). Dorion probably also felt bad for turning Mike Reilly into a third-round pick from a fifth-round pick via Boston. He owed the Bruins a solid.
Do you think Jackson Pollock cared how many Stanley Cups his paintings had won? No. He just wanted to give a voice to the colors themselves. And another thing about Erik Gudbranson: remember when Dorion first signed Tyler Ennis? Well, he traded Ennis for a fifth-round pick, used that pick to acquire Gudbranson, and then re-signed Ennis. Do you remember when Ottawa and Tampa traded the 155th and 157th overall picks in their December 2020 trade? Name another GM who makes this kind of statement. I’ll wait. I mention this trade because in the acquisition of Cédric Paquette, Dorion accelerated the process of reacquiring Ryan Dzingel. The Dzingel trade (the first) stands out as perhaps the best of Dorion’s tenure. So you better believe he made sure to a) send Columbus a seventh-round pick he basically got as a gift from Los Angeles (via Calgary), b) trade the pick to Columbus second-rounder for Derek Stepan (nothing), c) trade Columbus’ other second-round pick for Matt Murray (maybe also nothing), and d) let Anthony Duclair walk for nothing. Have you ever seen one of those modern art installations where money is burned just to make a point about capitalism?
A hardworking local kid at heart, Dorion just can’t accept a free lunch. In hindsight, it seems a little bourgeois for the Islanders to have sent first and second round picks to Ottawa for Jean-Gabriel Pageau, so I can understand why Dorion sent the second round to Toronto as a trade for the pleasure of an exchange (Tyler Kleven). On the subject of doing a favor for our struggling neighbors in Toronto, remember the third-round pick Dorion traded Cody Ceci for Nikita Zaitsev? Well, that pick goes back to Pittsburgh (via Columbus) as part of the deal with Derick Brassard. Those greedy bastards wanted Filip Gustavsson, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Jonny Tychonick and another one an asset for Brassard? (and by extension Mika Zibanejad and also a second-round pick). In this economy?! Return to Rockcliffe. It goes both ways though. If Vegas thought they could just get Marc Methot and therefore a second-round pick, then they don’t know Pierre Dorion. We are one Egor Sokolov the best for this (not wasting, not wanting). Dorion does not subscribe to this corporation of thieves of analytically inclined young NHL general managers. He always does it for the thrill, baby.
I hesitate to call Dorion a good general manager because, frankly, his teams lose a lot of hockey games. I also can’t dismiss his work as I literally watch every trade he makes and see his opus coming together in front of us in real time. Maybe one day we will see Dorion as a man out of his time. Maybe we just can’t appreciate his vision because of our own biases and limitations. Blame it on Stockholm syndrome, but for some reason (probably the memes) Dorion fascinates me in a way he shouldn’t, given the Senators’ years of mediocrity. You can certainly say that as General Manager, Dorion is tasked with building a winner and not the abandoned build in front of us. But I think I have a job to write about hockey and I wrote this instead, so maybe Dorion appeals to me like a kindred spirit.
Oh wow, you’re still reading this. Isn’t that something? Look, if you’re like me, you saw the Senators trade a third-round pick for a Travis Hamonic contract that no one would touch with a ten-foot pole, and then you thought at least Ottawa got that choice basically for a free signing Evgeni Dadonov as a free agent before then you saw a group of people arguing online about asset management and wondered if you are still following this team for entertainment or not . Do trades and signatures count as entertainment? Is it important? I don’t know and I don’t think anyone knows – probably not even Dorion himself.