Watch as Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn scores on a toe-drag snipe to put his team up with the opening goal in Game 4 vs. the Seattle Kraken.
OTTAWA – There was a time when the Ottawa Senators couldn’t get a date to the prom.
Now, everyone is fighting to get their attention.
Ryan Reynolds? Back off and get your own sandwich.
Snoop Dogg has got this.
Oh, wait, The Weeknd is on the line, saying: Just know that I would die for you. Baby I would die for you.
Alright, we can’t say for sure that those lyrics are directed at a hockey franchise, but it feels that way.
Over the weekend, multi-Grammy winner The Weeknd became the latest celebrity act to cast his lot in with one of the several serious bids to buy the Senators franchise.
As reported by Postmedia, the Weeknd (aka, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) of Toronto is now aligned with a bid headed by the Kimel brothers, Michael and Jeffrey. The brothers operate the Harlo Group of companies (including Harlo Capital and Harlo Entertainment) out of Toronto and were once part-owners of the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins.
On the face of it, the connection to Ottawa might seem as remote as the Neko Sparks-Snoop Dogg interest from Los Angeles, but The Weeknd actually has deep Ottawa ties. He is close with Ottawa rapper Belly, a pal of Tony Sal, one of the key members of The Weeknd’s management team. Amir “Cash” Esmailian, a graduate of Merivale High School in Ottawa, is the other key figure handling the Weeknd’s business affairs. And Belly remains an adviser.
If you think the Senators finished March strong, with four wins in six starts from March 20-30, The Weeknd was named on March 20 the world’s most popular artist by the Guinness Book of World Records, with 111 million monthly listeners on Spotify. No one had ever reached 100 million monthly listeners before.
That’s not small potatoes.
So, what does this all mean, exactly, where the Senators are concerned?
Is it not possible to buy an NHL team anymore without an A-list hotshot riding shotgun on the bid? Is this the new trend, sports teams requiring celebrity salsa to spice them up? Whatever happened to good old, boring, stable franchise ownership? Will Ottawa get both — fancy cake and get to eat it, too?
People are already joking that Justin Bieber is still out there, for any lonely bid lacking star status.
It feels a little bit like we are being distracted by “Blinding Lights,” to borrow from another Weeknd hit song. Without knowing the exact details of each prospective ownership bid, we are left to debate the merits of a Ryan Reynolds team vs. The Weeknd vs. Snoop Dogg.
The truth is, we don’t know how much these entertainers are going to be involved with the NHL franchise that they are trying to buy into. Reynolds at least has the street cred built from his heavy involvement with the Welsh football team, Wrexham.
For his part, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the Bob McCown podcast last week that these high-profile, celebrity-spiced bids could be a plus for any group trying to buy the Senators. But he cautioned that the “bids are going to have to stand on their own merit.”
Now, all of this star power is fun to contemplate during an otherwise quiet time for hockey in Ottawa, but if we are going to play this game, where are the female stars?
Most of us realize the world would be a better place if women ran it. And many hockey teams are getting women involved in meaningful roles on NHL clubs, with Hayley Wickhenheiser, Cammi Granato, Meghan Hunter and many more.
We thought it might be fun to suggest a few female music stars to spice up someone’s ownership bid for Ottawa.
Alanis Morissette: OK, this might get a little awkward as Morissette, the Ottawa singing star, did date Ryan Reynolds for several years and the pair were engaged to be married before their breakup in 2008. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Alanis went head-to-head with Ryan in a battle for the Sens. Hey, Alanis got here first — she sang the national anthem on opening night for the Senators in 1992 and has done other big games, including the 2007 Stanley Cup final between Anaheim and Ottawa. You oughta know she would be a great addition to any bid to buy the Senators.
Kathleen Edwards: Another Ottawa-born recording star, Edwards loves hockey. Her debut album in 2002 contained the single “Hockey Skates” and several years later she put together a hockey-themed video for her song, “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory” alongside ex-Edmonton Oilers Paul Coffey and Marty McSorley, former Hockey Night In Canada host Dave Hodge and Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo. Edwards’ song “Change the Sheets” was used as the intro to a Senators-Penguins Eastern Conference final broadcast in 2017. Until recently, Edwards operated a popular coffee shop in Stittsville, just down the road from the Canadian Tire Centre. The shop was called Quitters. But Edwards never quits. She keeps on going.
Avril Lavigne: Born in Belleville, Ont., home of the AHL affiliate B-Sens! Talk about hockey roots. Avril was a two-time MVP on her varsity girls hockey team at Napanee District Secondary School. She wrote (with the Matrix) and sang the hit song “Sk8er Boi” (more about punk lifestyle than hockey, but still — there is that skating reference). Lavigne is now 38. (Can’t be true.) She has 13 million Instagram followers. Lavigne’s debut album Let Go was the best-selling album by a Canadian artist this century. Any deal to buy the Sens would be “complicated,” as her song goes. Nonetheless, Avril, Kathleen and Alanis would be great additions to the Senators celebrity hit list.