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Ryan Reynolds should buy the Senators and how that connects to both Matt Murrays
Hockey is a game, it should be fun.
This story is going to somehow try and connect Ryan Reynolds, soccer, the Ottawa Senators, and the goalie situations in both Dallas and Toronto.
Will it work? No idea, but let’s have some fun.
I’m a huge soccer fan. Each weekend I probably watch parts of three or four games, with a direct focus — and personally planning — on finding a way to have nothing else to do when Tottenham plays (frustrating loss to Liverpool on Sunday).
I grew up in a soccer house, in fact I don’t remember having many of the American-style “catches” with my dad, but we did pass the soccer ball around quite frequently. My sister played college soccer, my grandparents are in the Randolph (NJ) High School Hall of Fame for starting soccer programs. When MLS launched, my family had season tickets for the New York/New Jersey Metrostars.
But for all the soccer games I watched this weekend, I didn’t watch the MLS Cup. In fact the majority of my MLS consumption is limited to CONCAF Champions League (I find that more interesting) or FC Dallas games that my old pal Owen Newkirk may have been calling.
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The championship of the top league in America wasn’t worthy of my planning or attention. But I did go out of my way to watch the FA Cup game on Sunday morning between Wrexham AFC and Oldham Athletic, a first-round game, mind you, where neither team has any real chance of even dreaming of reaching the final.
That’s why it’s welcomed news that Ryan Reynolds is interested in owning the recently-put-up for sale Ottawa Senators.
Reynolds and fellow actor Rob McElhenney bought Wrexham AFC in February of 2021 and have put the small Welsh club on the American map. Using Hollywood connections a TV series was launched, “Welcome to Wrexham,” and the success of the series on FX has led to cross-promotion of Wrexham FA Cup games on ESPN platforms.
It was the perfect storm of celebrity ownership, platforms that could work together, and already established streaming deal that with FA Cup rights. It worked, I care and want to watch Wrexham’s next FA Cup match, and likely will as long it doesn’t happen at the same time as a Tottenham match.
And Reynolds, with help, could have a similar impact on the Senators, and therefore the NHL.
Reynolds, even if he had McElhenney join him, couldn’t buy the Senators alone. Wrexham was a purchase in the neighborhood of $3 million (USD). The Senators, as I wrote about this week at EP Rinkside, are likely going to sell for closer to $800 million.
Reynolds most realistic path to “ownership” of the Senators is doing so as part of a group, where he can be the vocal front man and others can provide the majority of the funds required to make such a purchase.
Let’s assume that’s possible, maybe whomever wins the Powerball gives the actor a call, and that the Senators are in line for a Hollywood style takeover that happened with Wrexham.
Hockey is a niche and regional sport, you have to be able to acknowledge that as a fan if you want it to get better. It’s also a sport filled with natural gatekeepers (both human and otherwise) that limit it’s growth. An NHL team thinking “outside the box” is rarely that innovative by actual business standards, and the sport overly caters to it’s existing base that will continue to watch no matter what — yes, you, the person who is claiming you are “done” with hockey on Twitter.
I have a good friend who has never been to an NHL game. Aside from being polite to me about my profession, he doesn’t care what happens in hockey. But he also happens to be a massive collector of Marvel memorabilia, if the Ottawa Senators were suddenly owned by Reynolds, he’d probably buy a Funko Pop that featured Deadpool in a Senators jersey.
Whether they watched the game or not, and I would argue in today’s TikTok world actually watching a full game doesn’t even determine fandom anymore, more people would care about what happened to the Ottawa Senators.
It would also create more possibility for a hockey-based TV show that goes beyond “this guy is tough and coaches praise blocked shots,” which a lot of hockey behind-the-scenes shows become, not because of producers, but because teams get a say in what the finished product looks like.
Reynolds’ potential purchase of the Senators would, of course, have blowback from some traditional hockey voices. And you know what, screw them. Those people will watch either way, hockey’s issue is getting new people in the door — which became even harder this week with certain actions by a team in the Northeastern United States.
And speaking of the Senators, let’s talk about the Matt Murrays.
Yes, both of them.
One Matt Murray is a former Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was with Ottawa before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs and is currently working his way back from injury.
His injury was one of a handful of actions that led to the Maple Leafs signing AHL goalie Keith Petruzzelli to an NHL entry-level contract. Roughly a week earlier the other Matt Murray signed an NHL deal with the Dallas Stars because an injury to Jake Oettinger opened the door for him to turn his AHL deal into an NHL contract.
For both Murray (the Dallas one) and Petruzzelli, it was an exercise in the value of AHL contracts, particularly for goaltenders.
While Murray (assume we are talking about the Dallas one unless I say otherwise) and Petruzzelli signed with the parent clubs of the AHL team’s they were on, they weren’t limited to signing for those clubs. AHL-contract players are also NHL free agents, so in theory any other team could have signed Petruzzelli or Murray to an NHL deal during the season. And maybe another team would have after seeing Petruzzelli’s 6-0 start and .922 save percentage thus far for the Toronto Marlies.
It’s one of the hidden benefits of the AHL contract. A player on an AHL contract could earn a potential spot with 32 different NHL teams midseason, and not just the one that owns their NHL contract.
For a goalie in Murray or Petruzzelli’s shoes, it’s an ideal bridge to potentially finding your spot in the NHL. Both were college free agents and neither had the promise of an NHL GM telling them, “You are part of our future,” that they could rely on for future opportunities.
Instead they built their own opportunities with their play, while maintaining a level of future NHL flexibility that they could have used across the league instead of relying solely on the depth chart of one team.
They kept options open, just like the NHL should be open to the option of Ryan Reynolds owning the Senators.
See, told you it would all connect.
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