Following last week’s explosive revelations concerning his partner’s alleged harassment of Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson’s wife, it was hard to envision a scenario where Senators forward Mike Hoffman could remain in the nation’s capital.
The expected script played out with one trade Tuesday before a further twist added to the saga.
Hours after the Senators dealt Hoffman to San Jose in a swap that included four players and two draft picks, the Sharks flipped the 28-year-old to the Florida Panthers.
Ottawa’s Atlantic Division rival sent a 2019 second-round pick and fourth- and fifth-round selections in this year’s draft to the Sharks for Hoffman and a seventh-round pick in this week’s draft.
Earlier, the Senators traded Hoffman, prospect defenceman Cody Donaghey and a 2020 fifth-round selection to San Jose for winger Mikkel Boedker, defenceman Julius Bergman and a 2020 sixth-round pick.
The moves come after Melinda Karlsson, Erik Karlsson’s wife, filed a peace bond last month alleging that Monika Caryk, Hoffman’s fiancee, posted hundreds of derogatory online messages aimed at her and her husband.
In the sworn statement, Melinda Karlsson alleged Caryk "uttered numerous statements wishing my unborn child dead." The Karlssons’ first child, a son named Axel, was stillborn in March.
Panthers general manager and president of hockey operations Dale Tallon said on a conference call with reporters after acquiring Hoffman, who carries a salary cap hit of nearly US$5.2 million over the next two seasons, that he had looked into the allegations.
"We did our homework and we discussed it with a lot of different people," Tallon said. "We feel that’s in the past … we’re very confident he’ll be embraced by our team and by their wives and girlfriends. We have a strong culture down there now.
"Talking with Mike and all the parties, it will work out to our benefit."
In a news release announcing the trade with San Jose, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said the move will "strengthen the future of the team by improving chemistry, leadership and character in the locker room and on the ice."
The release made no mention of the allegations against Caryk, which Hoffman has denied.
Hoffman had 22 goals and 34 assists for 56 points in a miserable 2017-18 for Ottawa that saw the Senators go from double overtime in Game 7 of Eastern Conference final last spring to 30th overall.
"He’s 28, he can score, he can skate, he’s got a got a cannon for a shot," Tallon said. "We missed the playoffs by a point.
"We needed to add some speed and skill to our lineup, and this turns out to be the fit for us."
Tallon said he had discussions with Dorion about Hoffman last week, but felt Ottawa’s price, which included a player or players instead of picks, was too high.
"I was contacted (Monday) night by San Jose and asked if I had any interest," Tallon added. "We looked at the deal and we felt this would be a perfect fit for our team."
Boedker, also 28, had 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points for San Jose in the second season of the four-year, $16-million contract he signed with San Jose in 2016.
"Mikkel Boedker is a competitive, versatile, two-way forward who can play both wings," Dorion said in a statement. "He has a track record of playing his best hockey in the most important games, including the playoffs and internationally.
"His skill set — in particular his speed — along with his veteran leadership with our vision of the team."
The Senators told The Canadian Press in an email they would have no further comment on the move.
While it was clear Hoffman had to go, what Tuesday’s developments mean for Karlsson’s future in Ottawa remains to be seen.
Dorion has said he will offer his captain, who can become an unrestricted free agent and walk for nothing next summer, a new contract on July 1.
But with the Senators now lurching toward a full rebuild, will Karlsson want to spend his prime years with a team that doesn’t look likely to be back in Stanley Cup contention any time soon?
The alleged harassment story involving Caryk, Hoffman and the Karlssons was just the latest development in a turbulent stretch for Ottawa.
Last week, the Senators suspended assistant general manager Randy Lee, who has a court date in Buffalo next month for a harassment charge. Lee will miss this weekend’s draft in Dallas.
Meanwhile, former captain and fan favourite Daniel Alfredsson was quoted saying at an event he hopes the Senators are sold to an owner other than Eugene Melnyk to ensure their future in the nation’s capital.
Billboards were erected earlier in the year in Ottawa with the hashtag MelnykOut. Before an outdoor game in December in Ottawa, Melnyk threatened to move the franchise if attendance didn’t pick up.