The acquisition of Matt Duchene by Ottawa probably means more than just strengthening a mediocre attack and taking another step toward the Stanley Cup. The Senators who have been pressing for a new downtown arena to be built for quite sometime now, just took another step to get public opinion on their side and sway reluctant governments be they municipal, provincial, and federal to pledge public funds for such a project. In effect they are saying, “You won a Grey Cup when you rebuilt Lansdowne Park. If you want a Stanley Cup to go along with it, build us a new downtown arena. Trading for Matt Duchene shows us to be sincere.”
The owner of the Senators, Eugene Melnyk believes that the current arena, located in the suburb of Kanata is too far away to lure fans consistently and has his eyes set on developing a sizable piece of land in downtown Ottawa. While the new arena would be the centerpiece of such development, there will be other significant construction built around it, just like the recent development around the new Edmonton arena. So far, existing negotiations have not encountered the hostility and opposition that proposed new arenas in Phoenix and Calgary have encountered. There is a good chance that this project will get off the ground and become reality.
Trading for Matt Duchene spurs things along. Being a step closer to the Stanley Cup after last year’s run to the Eastern Conference Final makes things more tempting for the fans and puts pressure on the authorities of the various governments to give in to popular opinion. This gambit has been tried before successfully in Pittsburgh. There was hesitation and opposition to building their current arena until the owners using the bait of having Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and the prospect of losing them because the old arena would not generate the funds to afford the salaries of a championship team, finally persuaded authorities that a new arena should be built. Ground was broken in 2008; the Penguins won the Cup next year and have won two more in recent years. Championship teams mean new arenas or at least improvements.
Duchene is the marquee player on offence to go with Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson on defense. He will sell more tickets and generate more interest in the team. Ottawa came close once before since getting their team back to winning the Stanley Cup with Daniel Alfredsson as the leader and main attraction. The recent Grey Cup victory of the Ottawa Redblacks will also sway public opinion and the authorities to give a favorable response for public funding.
Ottawa wants to win it all now. They want their star forward. They want the Stanley Cup. They want larger attendance and that means a new arena.