By LISA WALLACE
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Thursday, September 13, 2018
GATINEAU -- Mark Borowiecki is making no apologies for playing a major role in the latest controversial move by the Ottawa Senators.
The rugged defenceman interviewed owner Eugene Melnyk in a team-produced video released Monday night outlining the Senators' plan for a rebuild.
The six-minute clip went viral and received significant backlash on social media, but as far Borowiecki is concerned, he did the right thing.
"I was approached and asked to help out with something for the team and I was told what it was and, as a member of this organization, we had a chance to get a message out to fans and seasonticket holders, and I think it's something fans deserved to know, and probably should have known earlier, and I was happy to kind of help get that message out," the Ottawa native told reporters before the team's annual charity golf tournament on Wednesday.
"I did it knowing full well there would be backlash, but that's part of being an adult sometimes."
Borowiecki said his priority is to help turn the Senators around after a disastrous run on and off the ice. The team finished second-last in the NHL and Melnyk hinted at relocation if attendance didn't improve, although he changed his tune in the wake of those December comments, and again in the video, saying the team is staying.
Things didn't get any better over the summer. There has been constant speculation about captain Erik Karlsson's future with the squad, which only picked up when his wife filed an order of protection against former teammate Mike Hoffman's fiancée for alleged cyberbullying. Assistant general manager Randy Lee, meanwhile, resigned after being accused of harassment at a predraft combine in Buffalo.
"It's cool right now to dump on this team, right? That's the cool thing to do online, I get it," Borowiecki said. "It's been a trying year for everyone. There's been things that have happened outside of our control that have reflected poorly on this organization and I get it, but I'm not going to participate in that. The easy way out for me there would have been for me to say no and keep my head low and let everything blow over and hope I'm here on the other side. That's easy.
... I put myself out there, I took a risk of potential backlash for me, but I was asked to do a favour for the organization and I did it."
After the Karlsson-Hoffman drama, players admit there were issues in the dressing room.
"You could see from the on-ice product something was not right and the onus falls on all of us for that, myself included," Borowiecki said. "It's time for us to step up and make sure we get this thing righted here. The easy way out on a lot of situations is to just sit there and keep your head low and not be involved, and I could have done that with Eugene's message, too. I did that last year with issues in the locker room. I just sat there and said, 'Well, I'm going to mind my own business.' "Shame on me for doing that, and this year it's not going to happen."