Ottawa Citizen says NHL team refused to let reporter on charter

The Ottawa Senators appeared to fire another salvo in their ongoing battle with the Ottawa Citizen on Friday, with the newspaper saying one of its sports reporters was denied access to the team’s charter.

The development came two days after the newspaper said it would not take down a secretly recorded video of several Senators players from an Uber vehicle in Arizona despite a legal notice insisting that leaving it online violates provincial privacy laws.

Hockey writer Ken Warren was expecting to take the team charter to cover the Senators’ game at Tampa Bay on Saturday but was denied access to the flight, Ottawa Citizen editor-in-chief Michelle Richardson said.

“I can confirm it happened this morning,” Richardson said. “For us, it doesn’t really change our fundamentals. We’re still committed to covering the Senators, both the good and the bad. Our coverage is important to our readers and to their fans and that’s not going to change.”

Reporters, broadcasters, photojournalists and other travelling media members sometimes fly on team charters, which can be more timely and convenient than taking commercial flights. The Citizen, like most outlets, pays employee transportation costs when charters are used.

The Senators didn’t immediately comment when asked about the story. Warren declined comment Friday afternoon, referring questions to Richardson.

Newspaper rejected legal notice

“He was given the itinerary and didn’t know there was going to be an issue with it,” Richardson said from Ottawa. “But he’s still going to make it for the game. Just a little bit of a delay.”

Earlier this week, the newspaper flatly rejected a legal notice from the NHL team, saying a video shot surreptitiously by an Uber driver was circulating on social media when the paper decided to report on it.

In the video, seven players can be seen ridiculing Senators assistant coach Martin Raymond and scornfully discussing the team’s penalty-killing performance. The video was shot without the players’ knowledge by the driver of the Uber vehicle they were riding in while on the road in Phoenix.

A group of Ottawa Senators players got caught red-handed talking about their coach… but only because an Uber driver released his dashboard footage. Who messed up more? 1:17

The video shared by the Citizen also appeared on websites of other publications owned by Postmedia Network Inc., the paper’s parent company.

The players later apologized for their remarks. An Uber spokesperson said the recording was a “clear violation” of the company’s community guidelines, adding that Uber had helped to have the video taken down from YouTube.

With files from Canadian Press reporter Michelle McQuigge