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Michael Del Zotto: the Senators sent him to the AHL in 2021 to punish the rest of the team

We’ve always heard the phrase “what happens in the hockey locker room, stays in the locker room”, but with the rise in popularity of podcasts, many players decide to tell anecdotes that may shock. This time, it’s Michael Del Zotto, who talked about his nightmare with the Ottawa Senators in 2021 during his appearance on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast.

Del Zotto was sent to the AHL in December 2021, while playing for the Ottawa Senators. The story remained unclear until he told his tale in the episode that went public on Tuesday.

To sum up the situation, the Senators weren’t doing well and the coaches were looking for a way to shake things up. So they decided to trade Del Zotto to their AHL affiliate, only because he was one of the most well-liked players in the Ottawa dressing room.

In the end, this technique didn’t work, as the Senators still finished 26th in the league. Even though the situation wasn’t improving, management refused to bring Del Zotta back to the NHL. So the defenseman spent the rest of the season with Belleville.

That clears up a lot of things, because he didn’t deserve to be sent back to the AHL at all. In fact, he was producing at a good rate. He had already accumulated 13 points in 26 games, giving him a point for every two games. Only one other Ottawa defenseman can boast a better point-per-game ratio in 2021-22, and that’s Thomas Chabot.

On top of that, Del Zotto only had a -4 record, which isn’t too bad for a bottom-ranked team.

Despite all this, the Senators refused to bring him back to the NHL and he never returned. In fact, he never returned for any other team and spent his final season in the AHL in 2022-23, because Ottawa decided to buy out his contract in the summer of 2022. He hasn’t played professional hockey since last season.

D.J. Smith was the Senators’ head coach during this incident. Yet another reason for Senators fans to hope he’ll be fired this season. In four seasons at the helm, he’s never made the playoffs, and that doesn’t necessarily bode well for this season either.

You can listen to the full podcast episode here :


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