If you thought the Bryan Colangelo stuff out of Philadelphia was weird, as the days go by, the story that is the alleged harassment by Mike Hoffman’s fiance on Erik Karlsson’s wife just gets stranger and stranger. No official word has come down from the Karlsson camp that confirms the rumors Karlsson has requested a trade, but should that happen, it won’t come as a surprise if the allegations prove to be true — perhaps even if they don’t.
This is a crazy time of year for NHL teams. The NHL Entry Draft is only weeks away, the courting period for free agency begins right after that and then free agency opens up. Ottawa was already going to be a busy team, but when news broke that things between two of its best players might be sticky and things between their two wives hostile, things in Ottawa just got ugly. Well, uglier.
Hearing the allegations that Karlsson had a good reason to leave Ottawa for any other reason than money was hard enough for fans. To hear now that a player who was potentially already going to be traded has all but chased him out of town is troublesome. If you’re a fan of the NHL and you’ve been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, here’s what’s going on.
Karlsson and Hoffman: The Trade Bait
Both Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman were on the trade block earlier than this week. The Senators are denying any desire to trade their star defenseman but it will likely come out sooner than later that Karlsson will be moved and for a hefty return.
The rumors are that Ottawa was planning to offer a long-term contract to their best player but also that he was more-than-likely going to turn it down knowing that if he tested free agency, he was going to make crazy money. No doubt, Karlsson was bound to get rich anyway, but the Senators are known for not wanting to spend money and while he’d have gotten wealthy, the team around him might not have been terribly strong.
The Senators would have had a problem come the end of the 2018-19 season if Karlsson hadn’t agreed to an extension. They would have been forced to trade him for assets prior to losing him for nothing and he’s far too valuable to let that happen. Meanwhile, Hoffman has been the subject of trade rumors because he’s part of the team’s effort to retool after a disappointing season. Rumors are the team is planning to ship him elsewhere by the NHL Entry Draft and that there are interested teams, but none that have ponied up what the Senators might be looking for yet.
Then Came the Pipebomb
While the team was examining their options, news broke that Karlsson’s wife Melinda Karlsson filed an order of protection against Mike Hoffman’s wife, Monika Caryk. It was a stunning accusation that alleged Caryk had been cyberbullying Mrs. Karlsson for a while, including the hopes that someone might take Karlsson out with a devastating injury and accusations that Melinda was popping pills and wishing death upon Melinda’s unborn baby — a son named Axel, who was stillborn in March.
Mike Hoffman immediately denied being connected to all of this when asked for comment but his agency hasn’t stepped forward with any further comments and the NHL is launching an immediate investigation into the allegations. Wives of formers Senators players jumped in with both feet coming to the support of Melinda Karlsson. Both Marlee Hammond (Andrew) and Julie Turris (Kyle) along with two other hockey wives, Kodette LaBarbera (wife of goaltender Jason LaBarbera) and Taylor Winnik (wife of forward Daniel), made sure the public was aware they were backing Melinda.
First, if this is true, the world is feeling for the Karlsson’s, especially Melinda who couldn’t possibly have deserved such an attack. Second, this was not publicity the Senators needed. Already in the news for having an owner that is, if nothing else, controversial and an assistant GM who is headed to court to answer questions about harassing a hotel shuttle driver in Buffalo during the NHL’s pre-draft scouting combine two weeks ago, the Sens could have used some good news. This is not it.
— Ottawa Citizen (@OttawaCitizen) June 12, 2018
Third, anyone who thought there was a prayer Karlsson might stick it out in Ottawa can kiss that idea goodbye.
What’s Next for Karlsson and Hoffman?
No one here is accusing Hoffman himself of doing anything wrong. He seems outraged by the idea that his long-time girlfriend could even be accused of something so heinous. But, even if this proves to be inaccurate and it wasn’t Ms. Caryk who did what she’s being accused of, there’s no going backward from this.
The Karlsson’s likely have it in their mind that they need to make a change and right away. The Hoffman’s probably have it in their mind that they are shocked their teammate and his wife would think they did something so awful. There’s no way these two can co-exist in a locker room now and there’s no chance the wives will be anywhere near each other. It won’t take long for the organization to realize that even shipping out just Hoffman won’t do the trick. Karlsson won’t want to the stink of this left on the rest of his career.
Perhaps unfairly, this could also affect Hoffman’s trade value and the number of teams interested in acquiring him. There were already rumors the Senators were being lowballed. With this news, true or not, he’ll have a reputation for his personal life is a potential problem. If it does prove true, there will be a number of teams who won’t want to touch him with a ten-foot pole.
What has happened now is the timeline for these trades has been pushed way up. It was already looking like Hoffman was being pushed out the door. Now the team can’t get rid of him fast enough. Karlsson was rumored to be wanting out. This drama all but confirms there’s no reason to stay.
Things in Ottawa were messy. They’re completely ugly now and everyone’s fate is pretty much sealed.