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Senators players say viral video a 'hiccup,' team relationship with coaches strong

Last Updated Nov 7, 2018 at 12:40 am EDT

Ottawa Senators assistant coach Martin Raymond (left) and Senators forward Matt Duchene are shown during a team practice in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

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, most notably assistant coach Marty Raymond, appeared online on 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,” said Duchene.

“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 that 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.

Stone said that the video showing seven Senators players insulting the team and Raymond during an Uber ride is an internal matter.

“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 bit of humiliation for the organization, which has endured numerous controversies over the past two years. Owner Eugene Melnyk threatening to move the team, a bizarre alleged cyberbullying incident involving the wife of former star captain Erik Karlsson and harassment allegations against former assistant general manager Randy Lee are just the tip of the iceberg.

The video shows the players, including Duchene, Chris Wideman, Chris Tierney, Thomas Chabot, Alex Formenton (since sent down to his junior club in London), Dylan DeMelo and Colin White, discussing their ineffective penalty kill and mocking Raymond in what appears to be a recording from a camera mounted on the dash of an Uber driver’s van or SUV in Arizona last month.

“I can’t talk about it, but I think we’re all very sorry for Marty Raymond and we think he’s an amazing guy,” White said post-game Tuesday.

None of the players involved were made available to talk about the incident at Tuesday morning’s skate, leaving Stone to do most of the talking.

“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.”

In the video Duchene, who is 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 released Monday.

Raymond, who is 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 is currently 30th in the league.

Senators coach Guy Boucher did his best to sidestep the issue, saying the team had moved forward and was focusing on Tuesday’s game.

“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. “There you have it. Team wise we’ve moved on and we’re getting ready for (the game Tuesday night).”

During the morning skate Duchene was seen talking and laughing with Raymond as the two held a brief conversation at centre ice.

The incident, meanwhile, 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 on Tuesday.

Many Maple Leaf players questioned said it’s imperative for players to be aware of their surroundings when having a private conversation. And defenceman Travis Dermott expressed some sympathy for the Ottawa players caught up in the controversy.

“I mean, tough bounce for them. They’re going to have to deal with that, but it could happen to anyone, really.”

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby also felt bad for the Senators players.

“Those conversations happen all the time. Coaches know it, players know it. We’re together every day, so it’s pretty easy for that to happen,” he said.

Added Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves: “I would never expect a cab ride conversation to be made public, but that’s the world we live in right now.

“Everybody’s a snitch.”

— With files from Canadian Press national hockey reporter Joshua Clipperton in Toronto and freelance reporter Lisa Wallace in Ottawa.