Just a few short years ago, no one in Ottawa could have predicted how beloved Mark Borowiecki would become in Ottawa.
As the team fell from grace, he and Cody Ceci became whipping boys for fans due to their constant defensive mishaps. A cringe-worthy staged interview with Eugene Melnyk days before the team traded away Erik Karlsson was the last straw for many fans, who hoped that he would join the slew of players heading out the door.
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But something’s changed in the past few years. Whether it was his thoughtful stances regarding both on and off ice issues, his vigilante justice routine, or a career season in 2019-20, the local kid has become a fan favourite in Ottawa and a leader on the up-and-coming Ottawa Senators.
Many fans see resigning Borowiecki as an easy decision for the team, but a recent Instagram story where Borowiecki praised the Sens Foundation on its shift to the Ottawa-Gatineau Youth Foundation after cutting ties with the Ottawa Senators.
Borowiecki has also removed any reference to the team from his Instagram account, leading many to speculate that the pending UFA already has one foot out the door. There’s an argument to be made as to whether or not Borowiecki returning next season would make sense for Ottawa, but from his perspective, moving on from Ottawa makes all the sense in the world for Borowiecki.
If he were to stay in Ottawa, Borowiecki would likely be part of a group of d-men including Artyom Zub, Christian Wolanin, Maxime Lajoie, Erik Brannstrom, and more all fighting for minutes at the NHL level. While going to a stronger team wouldn’t help his ice time, there isn’t a spot in the Sens lineup carved out for him either.
Borowiecki has also been in a leadership role in Ottawa, and could even be a dark horse candidate for the captaincy, but given that he’s likely only a short term option for the team that seems like a longshot. Wherever he plays next season, Borowiecki will be a leader on and off the ice, so there’s no reason for him to stay in Ottawa just to lead.
The other factor Borowiecki has to consider is the term of his next contract. No one knows what the next few NHL seasons will look like, but it’s safe to say that, as usual, a veteran like Borowiecki should be interested in getting as many years as possible to have some sense of security. Much of the talk about re-signing Borowiecki has been about a one-year deal worth between one and two million dollars, while he’s not likely to get a much better offer, by testing the market it’s quite possible that one of the other 30 teams offer him a two-year deal. If he were to accept a one year deal with Ottawa without testing the market, he’d never know if better and longer offers were out there.
Finally, there’s the aspect that we have the least insight into the personal factor. Borowiecki is an Ottawa native and has seemed to love his time in Ottawa and has become heavily involved in the community. But, as Sens fans are all too aware, sports is a business, and Borowiecki has the chance to make the best decision for his career this coming off-season, and while there’s still a place for loyalty, commitment, and all that fun stuff in the game, almost all moves are largely non-personal.
But if we are trying to take that into account, there’s still the looming cloud of playing for Eugene Melnyk that has resulted in so many players leaving town, and while amateur social media sleuthing should be taken with a heaping mound of salt, this week’s aforementioned events certainly shouldn’t be ignored.
While the team and fans alike may want Mark Borowiecki back, there are many reasons why that isn’t a formality. Boro is a free agent, just like hundreds of players every year, and is likely going to take his time to make the best decision possible, even if that means leaving the only organization he’s ever known.