Insider Trading: Is there a feud between Keefe and Marner?
The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss the Senators exploring a sale of the team, whether there's a feud between Mitch Marner and Sheldon Keefe, when we are likely to see Barry Trotz behind a bench again, and more.
James Duthie: Full slate of Insiders Chris Johnston, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun: the Ottawa Senators up for sale according to Sportico, just seven months after owner Eugene Melnyk's passing, what's the process here, CJ?
Chris Johnston: Well, what's most significant is they've retained a big-school bank, Galatioto Sports Partners, which does this sort of thing, mergers and acquisitions in the sports world, and they will essentially be handling the potential back-and-forth between potential buyers for the Senators. It's a little early still in the process to identify who those buyers might be, but I am told by multiple sources that we should be talking about this as a sale that keeps the Senators in Ottawa. It's not a relocation type of situation and there's going to be a big price tag there: some think it could be as much as $700 million dollars or more for the Ottawa Senators.
Duthie: Frustrating times in Toronto, Mitch Marner was sat for a shift in the third period after a couple of mistakes in that overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks, any fallout from that, Dregs?
Darren Dreger: Well, I can tell you first of all, emphatically, some close to Mitch Marner say there is zero truth to this ongoing speculation that he has an issue with his head coach Sheldon Keefe. Now, do they love the fact that they're not playing great hockey? Of course not, that includes the coach, that includes the star players, that's everyone associated with the Toronto Maple Leafs. But there are some wondering whether or not the tinkering by Sheldon Keefe specific to Marner might include managing his ice time a little bit. Mitch Marner averages anywhere from 20 minutes per game to 27 minutes per game, so perhaps by backing that off a little bit he's more fresh, you invest some of that ice time into your bottom six and it turns out to be a win-win for all.
Duthie: With Sheldon Keefe on the hot seat, Barry Trotz's name comes up a lot in Toronto but Barry Trotz's name comes up a lot anywhere where a coach is on the hot seat... when are we likely to see Barry Trotz behind a bench again, Pierre?
Pierre LeBrun: Right, James, his name should come up, he's Barry Trotz, and he's going to be in demand when he's ready. This goes back to an interview I did with Barry Trotz last month where he said that he "wasn't quite ready yet" to put his name in the NHL hat. He still has some things to take care of in his personal life and my understanding is, coming in to today, that that is still the case and that he's not ready to come back to NHL life until probably December at the earliest so that's still a bit of a ways away. He will want to come back, just not right now so keep that in mind. In the meantime, speaking of Leaf coaches, they're still paying a former coach in Mike Babcock $5.8 million this season, the last year of that eight-year deal going back to 2015 they're paying him through June 30. I bring this up because if the Leafs do decide to make a coaching change at some point, consider that they're still paying Babcock, Sheldon Keefe makes just under $2 million, so that would be $7.8 million dollars that they'd be paying former coaches if they make a change, not to mention the salary of a new coach. So we know MLSE has deep pockets, but it's something to consider.
Duthie: November 1 is exactly one month from December 1, calendar expert that I am, which is the deadline for NHL teams to sign restricted free agents. Where is Alex Formenton and the Ottawa Senators, where are they at?
Dreger: Well, they're not moving very far and this has been a real quiet stalemate between Formenton and the Ottawa Senators. Obviously, the Ottawa Senators have reasons for slow-playing this situation but your dates are accurate in terms of the calendar and what that means is the clock is clearly ticking. Two options here: you either sign Alex Formenton and keep him with the Ottawa Senators, or you trade him to get him back in the NHL. Some believe a trade is more likely and I suppose Europe, long-term, could be an option as well.
Johnston: News out of Washington today, Dregs, that Connor Brown's season is done after having season-ending surgery on his right knee. I will say if there's any good news about a season-ending surgery it's that it was a clean ACL tear, there was no damage to other ligaments or the meniscus, so he is expected to make a 100 per cent return, and this is a big year for Connor Brown. Obviously disappointing news, but he's a pending unrestricted free agent next summer but he will make a 100 per cent recovery and be ready to go come next season.