Retired NHL defenceman Michael Del Zotto didn’t think very much of his time with the Ottawa Senators a couple of years ago.
Appearing on the podcast Daily Faceoff Live this week, Del Zotto was asked, based on his time with the Senators, about the need for the culture reset that’s now happening in Ottawa. “How much time do you have?” Del Zotto said with a laugh. “I couldn’t believe that that was an NHL organization when I was there. Just from top to bottom, how the players were treated, how the staff was treated.”
“I tell this story all the time, I was spoiled. My first year was in New York playing for the Rangers and it was first class treatment. Every single day, anything that a player could think of had already been thought of numerous times and had been perfected by the organization. So just even the food we’d have after home games, a fantastic spread of food, which I think maybe two guys would go there and actually make the most of it, because you’re in New York City, you’re going out for dinner after.”
“In Ottawa, I remember after my first game, we had boxed quesadillas in a warming drawer…So just little things like that. They (didn’t) give their players the best opportunities to succeed every night.”
Del Zotto believes the Senators may be missing their window of opportunity where they were expected to take the next step.
“They may have regressed,” Del Zotto said. “Is bringing in a 71-year-old coach the answer? Or a GM with no experience? I don’t know what the answers are, but something has to give at some point here. And if things don’t change, do you change the personnel?”
Del Zotto split his time evenly between Ottawa and AHL Belleville in 2021-22, playing 26 games in each city. The Senators almost certainly left him with a sour taste in his mouth, sending him to the minors after he had played more than a decade in the NHL.
That said, the rest of the league agreed last season with Ottawa’s assessment. Florida and Anaheim both had Del Zotto in their organizations and never brought him up from the AHL. Del Zotto retired in September.