Senators waived Zack Smith to send a message to the team

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Zack Smith skates to the puck against the Arizona Coyotes during a game in March. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Zack Smith skates to the puck against the Arizona Coyotes during a game in March. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

As we suspected, the Ottawa Senators have confirmed that they are dirtbags.

It was announced on Tuesday morning that the team would be placing Zack Smith, their longest tenured player, on waivers. Coming off a disappointing campaign where he scored five goals and totalled 19 points in 68 games, it wasn’t shocking that the rest of the league wasn’t lined up to claim the 30-year-old with three years at $3.25 million remaining on his current contract.

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With Smith now back with the squad and set to play in Ottawa’s preseason contest against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City Thursday night, we received an explanation for the move from Senators general manager Pierre Dorion.

Are you kidding me, Ottawa? Why do you feel the need to single out a guy like that, especially someone like Smith? After a season in which your squad finishes 30th, I think it’s fair to say that there were numerous “performance related” issues in the dressing room. Unfortunately for him, it looks like Smith became the team’s scapegoat for last year’s dumpster fire of a campaign.

I understand that there are times when players need a kick in the ass, but why does it need to be done in such a public, embarrassing way? Things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows in Ottawa. Is that a reason to hang out the dirty laundry for all to see, though? Even your most dramatic Facebook friends don’t switch their relationship statuses to “it’s complicated.” So, why did Pierre Dorion and the Senators organization decide to handle things in this manner instead of internally?

When asked about the situation earlier this week, Smith’s teammate Matt Duchene described it as “a kick in the balls.” And that got me thinking — Smith’s demotion might actually be a brilliant move.

Smith is your classic, tough-as-nails, heart-and-soul NHL player. He’s never the quickest or most skilled guy on the ice, but he gives it all that he has no matter what. He’s respected in the dressing room and liked by his teammates. That could make tossing someone like Smith on waivers the perfect wake up call for the Senators. This situation is something they can rally around and could potentially light a fire under not only Smith, but every single player that makes that opening night roster.

It really isn’t much different than Herb Brooks calling out an injured Rob McClanahan during the opening game of the 1980 Winter Olympics.

With all that has happened in the Canadian capital this offseason, Ottawa is looking to throttle low expectations once the puck drops in early October. If the dressing room is strong and they’re able to perform on the ice, I’m sure Dorion won’t mind being seen as the bad guy for a little while.

Like a kick in the balls, this situation is shocking and painful at first. However, with time, the discomfort will subside and the desire to extract some revenge takes over. For Smith and Co., their revenge will be proving the Senators front office that they made the wrong decision here.

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