OTTAWA, Ontario — Matt Duchene and the Ottawa Senators are attempting to put the drama behind them after a viral video of him and some teammates criticizing the club and assistant coach Marty Raymond emerged online Monday.
Duchene spoke publicly about the incident for the first time Tuesday night after the Senators beat the New Jersey Devils 7-3 in Ottawa.
“I want to take this opportunity to extend my absolute sincere apologies to Marty Raymond. He’s a heck of a person and coach and he did not deserve what we said. I sincerely, sincerely mean that on behalf of myself and my teammates,” Duchene said.
“It’s been a tough couple of days for a lot of people and we needed to respond and we did (with a win). We’ve dealt with things and everything in (the room) is good. We’re moving forward and it’s hard for me to even talk about because it makes me emotional and it’s not the person I am, or any of us. We’ve done a heck of a job bouncing back tonight as a whole group and I’ve said it all season and I’m going to keep saying it, we have a heck of a group in here.”
Ottawa forward Mark Stone said earlier in the day the latest bit of turmoil in the ongoing saga of the Senators is a “hiccup,” and that the team has already done work to repair the frayed relationship between players and coaches that was laid bare in the video.
The video showed seven Senators players during an Uber ride in Phoenix last month insulting the team and Raymond. Stone said Tuesday the matter already was addressed before the five-minute clip surfaced.
“It’s disappointing the way the video got released,” he said. “We dealt with this long before this video was released. As a coaching staff, as management, as players it was dealt with internally and the way it should be, and we’re going to move forward and grow from it.
“We don’t want negative stuff surrounding our team and this is a hiccup. I think guys have made a great effort to repair relationships. This is only going to make our team stronger going forward.”
The video was the latest humiliation for the organization over the past two years: owner Eugene Melnyk threatening to move the team; alleged cyberbullying involving the wife of former star captain Erik Karlsson; and harassment allegations against former assistant general manager Randy Lee.
They were discussing the team’s ineffective penalty killing and mocking Raymond in what appears to be a recording from a camera mounted on the dashboard.
Uber Canada’s General Manager Rob Khazzam said on his Twitter account that video taken of a private conversation without passenger consent is a “clear violation of our terms of service.” He said such conduct is “totally unacceptable” and merits investigation.
None of the players involved discussed the video Tuesday.
“As a leader of this team I want to be supporting my teammates,” Stone said. “It’s something I never want anyone to go through with it. As a coaching staff and management and players, we’re trying to form a bond that turns this team into the right direction and this is a hiccup, but I think we’re on the right track of doing that.”
Defenseman Mark Borowiecki acknowledged the Senators would have to deal with the “consequences” and “ramifications” of the video.
“But we want to keep this in house as much as we can and deal with it appropriately,” he said.
In the video, Duchene, one of the Senators’ alternate captains, is heard saying: “Marty Raymond, the only coach in NHL history to have the worst power play and the worst PK within a calendar year.”
Duchene later adds that he hasn’t “paid attention in three weeks” in Raymond’s meetings.
The players apologized to Raymond in a statement Monday.
Raymond, in his third season with the Senators, was responsible for the power play for much of last season and is in charge of the team’s penalty killing this year. Ottawa’s penalty killing ranks 30th in the league.
Senators coach Guy Boucher said the team is trying to move forward and concentrate on Tuesday night’s home game against New Jersey.
“I don’t know who makes decisions to put things like that out there, but when you purposely try to hurt another human being, I don’t want to spend too much time on that, and especially probably the best human being I know (Raymond), that’s personal,” Boucher said.
During the morning skate Duchene was seen talking and laughing with Raymond as the two held a brief conversation at center ice.
The matter has raised concerns about player privacy.
“We’re all totally aware that any time someone says to you this is off the record … nothing is off the record in your life. So let’s get that straight,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said at the Maple Leafs’ morning skate Tuesday.
Many Maple Leafs players said it’s imperative for players to be aware of their surroundings when having a private conversation. And defenseman Travis Dermott expressed some sympathy for the Ottawa players.
“I mean, tough bounce for them. They’re going to have to deal with that, but it could happen to anyone, really.”