Just hours after the team was forced to forfeit a first-round pick as punishment for its mishandling of the Evgenii Dadonov trade in 2021, the Ottawa Senators made a change at general manager.
Pierre Dorion, who held the GM role in Ottawa for eight seasons, has "resigned," new Sens owner Michael Andlauer said at a fiery press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Andlauer added that former NHL defenseman Steve Staios, who he brought on as the team's new president of hockey operations almost immediately after taking ownership of the team this summer, will take over as the Senators' new GM on an interim basis. Andlauer and Staios captured two Ontario Hockey League championships together with the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Though the new owner is playing this up as a resignation on Dorion's part, it appeared from Wednesday's presser that this was almost certainly Andlauer's decision.
Just hours earlier, news broke of the Senators losing a first-round draft pick for their role in the Dadonov trade saga. Ottawa failed to disclose Dadonov's 10-team no-trade list after completing a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2021 for Nick Holden and a draft pick.
The Golden Knights later tried to flip Dadonov to the Ducks at the 2022 trade deadline, but were unable to do so as a result of the clause.
Andlauer said he received a 73-page report from the NHL concluding the team was negligent with the Dadonov trade, and added that debacle was the "last straw" for Dorion as the club's general manager.
The owner, who said he and Dorion had dinner Tuesday night where they mutually agreed to part ways, detailed what appears to have been Dorion's demise.
"Actions originated by our hockey club... were negligent in nature, and our duty of care was ignored, which set off events that embarrassed the league, and pissed off two other NHL clubs."
In regards to the team's search for a new general manager, Staios said the club will take a patient approach and have a wide look at all potential candidates before making a hire.
Andlauer blasts NHL over handling of Pinto, Dadonov investigations
Andlauer also commented on the Shane Pinto contract situation and subsequent gambling suspension, saying they put the Sens in a "pickle" that could have been avoided. Regarding the latter, Andlauer pulled no punches when asked to elaborate on the NHL's handling of the landmark betting ban.
"You look at a young man who is making millions of dollars and representing the community... but he's 21 years old. Wayne Gretzky goes on MGM and talks about betting. Think about being injured, having time on your hands and a cell phone...," he said.
The owner was also infuriated with how long the league took to actually conduct the investigation over the Dadonov ordeal.
"You'll have to ask the NHL why it took a year. Why I inherited this is beyond me. There's no reason to last this long," he said.
Both the Pinto and Dadonov investigations clearly rubbed the Senators owner the wrong way, but even more egregious if true is the allegation from Andlauer that the league didn't communicate the severity of either probe while he was in the process of finalizing his purchase of the team.
"Maybe they didn’t want to disrupt [the sale] to make sure the seller got the best price possible," Andlauer said.