Dorion right to renege: Senators' rebuild remains ongoing

Pierre Dorion had to walk back the excitement he showed before the season after Ottawa's awful start.

Video Transcript

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: To go with Ottawa. I mean, no reason to throw Jersey's last two games with wins over Carolina and Colorado. But sandwiched in between of those two big wins was another GM stepping to the podium, well not GM, because as we know Jeff Gorton is not the Montreal Canadiens GM, but the general manager of the Ottawa Senators, basically giving a State of the Union or taking questions at the quarter pole of the season. And the big news from that was that he reneged on his comment earlier, or before the season, that the core pieces are all in place. The rebuild is over, he's saying that now the core pieces are in place is what he meant. That's sort of peak Pierre Dorion to a certain degree. This is a guy who gets really excited and he wants to be feeling good about his team, he was at the end of last year. He felt that vibe, I guess, all summer long. He was very, very excited to say that the rebuild was over.

But even his adjusted statement, that the core pieces are in place, I'm just not buying that. If you have a complete tear down, if you're going to bottom out, if you're going to be bad, and you're believing that you're on the other side of it, you've got to have a superstar, right? And I'm a huge Brady Tkachuk guy, but this is a 50 point player max. It seems to me. At least at this point in his career. This is not an Auston Matthews, or a Connor McDavid, or Jack Eichel, or whoever you want to name. This is not the superstar player that is going to be the player that you build around. You're building around Brady Tkachuk, and again I love Brady Tkachuk. But it seems to me that the core pieces are not in place because there's no superstar.

And hey, they might get him this year. It's very possible because that's the position they're in. And maybe that was the timeline all along. But they don't have a superstar to build around yet, and they don't have a goalie, I don't think. So to say that the core pieces are in place, I think Dorian is just wrong.

JULIAN ,MCKENZIE: This team is not ready. I don't know why, but thinking of Pierre Dorion, I always think of that time from really this year with the Canadiens and Senators were playing and all these journalists, including myself, are trying to get onto an elevator go down to the press room. And the elevator is like filling up and Pierre Dorion is outside and he can't get in. And then he grumbles some word to himself and we all just laugh in there. He wasn't ready to get in that elevator, it's kind of filled.

Like, I'm sorry, buddy, but like the Ottawa Senators were not ready to take that step into the elevator of being an actual decent contending team. They're not ready yet. And there's no shame. There's no shame for the Ottawa Senators in saying that, hey, you know what, we still need a bit more time. Whether it's with the court pieces or just filling out the rest of this roster, to actually be a good team.

You're right they need a goalie. This is a team that just sent down Matt Murray-- Matt Murray-- down to the American Hockey League. They still need to figure that out. And you're right, like Brady Tkachuk, great player. Tim Splitsvilla, still trying to find his own groove. I know he finally reached the 40 point plateau in his career. This is a team that still needs some more players. They still need some more seasoning. They're on the right track. They have the right idea.

I still think DJ Smith is a good coach for this team, too. They're just not ready yet. And I don't think there's any shame in the Ottawa Senators saying that you know what they're not ready to be a true competitive team. I said at the beginning of the year you know what? It's not on them to be a contending team, but get some wins over some decent teams to kind of help the morale and the momentum on this team. Those wins against Carolina and Colorado, big wins for this organization this year. And I know after the Carolina win, DJ Smith was really happy about that. And like you said, they'll be able to take some wins off of some teams in their own division. So the fact that they were able to go out of their division, and beat those two teams, two teams that we think are going to be Stanley Cup contenders this year.

If nothing else, the Senators can always look back on this season and be like, hey, we were able to beat those teams at different points in the year. They're not ready to be a competitive team yet on a consistent basis, but they're still able to be scrappy and get some wins here and there. And there's no shame in that. Take your time with this rebuild.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, that was the next phase. The next phase was to do what you did at the end of the season last year for a full season. The expectation should have been, maybe they could be like the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are clearly at a talent disadvantage every night. But are playing really good hockey and are playing above what their projected record would suggest. They're just competitive night in and night out. And I think that's what we expected from an Ottawa Senators team coached by DJ Smith, but again, things have not went well.

And they don't have the talent to make up for the fact that certain things have not went well. This is one of the teams that dealt with COVID. This is one of the teams that has dealt with injury. Colin White and Shane Penrose, as Pierre Dorian mentioned, have not been around for the majority of the season. Like they are not deep enough to withstand injuries and adversity. And clearly they're not at that point yet, but he's right. There are a lot of good pieces. A lot of good pieces outside the organization. Tyler Kleven and Jake Sanderson, as he mentioned. I think Ridley Greig is going to be a player that's going to play a high profile role for Team Canada at the World Juniors.

Yes, there are players that have been-- there are prospects in the system, there is hope on the horizon. But to suggest that the rebuild is over is foolish because those players aren't even half the players that are going to make a big impact or even with the team just yet. And didn't they like, I don't know if they put Colin White on waivers, but they were like trying to get rid of him at the start of last year or something like that? And now he's this indispensable part of the team. There's definitely some hypocrisy going on. He got a little excited. I think we understand that this is a guy who gets a little too excited sometimes. But this was not a team that was ready yet. And it seems like a team, as I mentioned before, that should be in the bottom three this year to get one more good player to truly get them on the upswing. I think that's the most accurate reality right now for the Ottawa Senators.

JULIAN ,MCKENZIE: How much better are the Ottawa Senators from the day when Pierre Dorion was talking on SportsNet and was asked about the Senators and all he had to say was we're a team? Like how much better are they on that day?

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I mean, they can't be that much better, but the organizational outlook has to be better. Because since then he's made all those trades to get all those prospects in picks and as he mentioned, they've got a ton of picks in this year's draft. Like you're not through the rebuild if you haven't spent all your draft capital yet in terms of the surplus, right? So, they're in a better spot. You might worry about you know what the two Pierres are doing in terms of their-- we just talked about diversity with the Montreal Canadiens in terms of analytics and this and that. It seems like the buck stops with those two who could be the stars of the best reality TV show in hockey if they had cameras around these two at all times. The two Pierres would be amazing.

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