In the aftermath of an NHL investigation, the Ottawa Senators have dismissed their general manager. Pierre Dorion was relieved of his duties on Nov. 1 for his involvement in the invalidated trade of forward Evgenii Dadonov. Consequently, the Senators will also forfeit a first-round draft pick within the next three seasons.
In July 2021, the Senators traded Dadonov to the Vegas Golden Knights for a third-round pick and defenseman Nick Holden. A year later, Vegas attempted to trade Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks to open up cap space on their roster. The NHL became aware of a major problem with this trade during this process.
Hours after Vegas announced Dadonov’s trade, they stated they had "become aware of an issue with respect to the trade" and were in contact with the league.
Unbeknownst to the Golden Knights, Dadonov had previously signed a 10-team no-trade clause while with the Senators. Coincidentally, Anaheim was one of the teams that Dadonov could not be traded to. However, Ottawa management withheld this information from Vegas during Dadonov’s original trade.
Ultimately, the NHL rejected Dadonov’s trade to the Ducks because it violated his contract.
In 2022, Golden Knights management approached the NHL, asking that the Senators face punishment for not disclosing Dadonov’s no-trade clause. ESPN reported that the “Ducks were also looking for ‘their pound of flesh’ after believing Dorion botched their deal.”
In a recent press release, the NHL announced that the Senators will have to forfeit a first-round pick in one of the 2024, 2025, or 2026 drafts as punishment. Ottawa management is required to decide which pick will be forfeited “within 24 hours of the conclusion of the draft lottery for that year.”
This decision comes at a challenging time for the Senators, who are currently last in the Atlantic Division with only ten points.
After receiving this news, Senators new owner Michael Andlauer met with Dorion to discuss how serious the situation was. Andlauer and Dorion mutually decided that it was best for Dorion to resign and part ways with the franchise. The fallout from the invalidated trade and subsequent penalty significantly influenced this decision.
“At the end of the day, we are at fault for what transpired. We can argue about how harsh this penalty was, but ultimately this could have been avoided. And the accountability is at our hockey club, and [Dorion] was ultimately responsible for the hockey operations of this club,” said Andlauer. “As a member of this league, we have to be held accountable for our actions. And while this was done before my watch, I must respect the league’s decision.”
Andlauer, along with his partners, gained ownership of the Senators less than two months ago. However, the NHL agreed to sell the Senators to Andlaurer’s group back in June, which is when he found out about the Dadonov situation.
Dorion had been with the Senators since 2007 when he started as chief amateur scout. He worked his way up through the franchise for several years before being named general manager in 2016. Until his resignation, Dorion had been the seventh-longest-tenured general manager in the league.
In his first season, Dorion helped the Senators advance to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals; however, they have yet to make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs since then. Dorion also played a pivotal role in several trades that backfired against the Senators, including the recent Alex DeBrincat move.
Overall, Ottawa had a 225-261-59 regular season record with a .467 points percentage under Dorion’s tenure, ranking them 29th overall in the NHL during that time.
As the Ottawa Senators navigate through this challenging period of change, the team and its new ownership face an opportunity to reshape their trajectory. With the departure of Pierre Dorion, a seasoned figure in the franchise, the Senators are at a crossroads.
Fans, players, and management alike await the unfolding chapters under the leadership of Michael Andlauer. The decisions made in the coming months will not only shape the team's future on the ice but also its identity in the eyes of the hockey community.