The Verdict Part 4: The Real Problem


Eugene Melnyk First off, I am very glad that Eugene is healthy again. Thanks to an extremely brave and unspeakably generous person he’s been given a second lease on life. Lowkey,  the most amazing fan moment in team history.  Oh, you threw a hamburger on the ice and Curtis Lazar took a bite of it, Sheldon Cutestory?
How about this person saved the owner’s fuckin’ life and hit him with the wild “Now win us a Cup.” Swish from full court…backwards.
Okay, these real-talk transitions  don’t get any easier to do, so in the spirit of “now win us a Cup” I’ll just dive in.
As all three of you may have noticed reading through the previous 3 parts of this series, aside from coaching, the actual changes I would make to player personnel are more complimentary than core. Would I part way with guys like Wiercioch and Chiasson? Yeah, but they aren’t making or breaking the team. Despite a bad performance this season, I’d like many of the players to remain on the team.
My biggest gripe up to now was always the need for a proven top 4 defenseman. Now that it’s been addressed, I wouldn’t be against giving a similar lineup a mulligan. Especially with a healthy Turris, MacArthur and non-broken finger edition Bobby Ryan. I don’t think they’re ready for the President’s Trophy but in a Florida leading the division with a 66 point, 44 year old leading scorer paradigm,  I think the East is still open enough to do some damage without having to sign Stamkos (whom I hear is very interested in signing in Ottawa for a discount).I was okay with Murray stepping down and Cameron getting the axe but really, if they got one more year too, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Actually, Cameron played Mark Borowiecki as a forward more than once so…good luck in future endeavors (Last time I will bring that up, I promise).No, in all seriousness, for me, the main issue holding this franchise back is ownership. Eugene Melnyk saved the Sens from Bankruptcy when he came in and bought the team and now he’s ruining them. He’s BEEN ruining them for a minute too. It’s one thing that his personal finances have deteriorated. It’s another that he’s stepping on the coach and management’s toes and meddling with their ability to make the “on ice product” the best it can be. Think potential coaches didn’t notice that Dorion said the money was there to sign a big name only to be contradicted by the owner like a day later?
If you can’t pay them you can’t pay them, why state your reluctance to sign the cheque to the media? I thought this guy was a fucking businessman. I’m a BLOGGER [who’s definitely not a virgin] and even I know that was a dumb move.I’ve heard it said the The Euge is the owner with the passion of a fan. That’s true but here’s the thing: I talk about hockey with a lot of different people. He does talk like a fan but he talks like the type fan that 2 minutes into talking to them I think to myself, “This guy doesn’t really know what he’s fucking talking about…but, you know, love the passion!” What kind of fan does he sound like? Ah, yes, the type of fan that you’re glad isn’t the one making the decisions. That’s where things are messed up in the organization. He’s imposed his influence, he’s meddling and he’s not a professional. No greater proof of that than how he handled the question of Dave Cameron’s future in the press. He should take a queue from the Anaheim Ducks owner and how they handle press…oh wait I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA WHO THAT IS BECAUSE YOU NEVER HEAR ANYTHING ABOUT THEM. Euge isn’t the only owner who has had a reputation for being what leading anthropologists classify as “The Worst.” Daryl Katz, Charles Wang, “Dollar” Bill Wirtz, and hell, peace to the originator Harold Ballard [thanks for making the leafs awful btw!] come to mind. Most of the time, if you know the the name of a sports franchise’s owner it is because they are: Meddling with operations, broke, holding the team back out of sheer cheapness, or threatening to move the team if some expensive toy they want isn’t handed to them [usually by the city] on a silver platter. Any of this sound familiar?

Personally, for a long time I’ve thought that Bryan Murray has flattered The Euge’s penny pinching with many of his signings and trades. But you can only really get away with dealing with those kind of constraints for so long before the cracks show. This was probably best evidenced by Alfie’s failed final contract negotiations and the “you can have Spezza OR Ryan but not both” ultimatum. See also: the current downplaying of re-signing the team’s leading goal scorer. Some of these magic moments can be blamed on managerial blunders but others are definitely due to just not being able to make certain financial commitments work because of lack of available resources.

Operating under the cap in spending is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a blessing to have payroll flexibility with a team as young Ottawa’s. As kids develop and perhaps emerge as core players they will ultimately earn bigger pay days. You have to factor that in so you need some cap space to keep them in the fold down the line. But “flexibility” isn’t really what the Sens have, do they? No, it’s a money in, money out fixed internal cap. Again, Murray’s Turris, Karlsson, Stone, and Methot contracts (among others) were amazing. A first line centre for under 4 million? A two time Norris winner and team captain for under 7? Two of the best deals in the league / sports (and for term!). Those aren’t the kind of deals that you’re going to be able to lock down over and over. Especially when trying to fill needs on the market. Also, Turris and Karlsson and Stone are going to need to be re-signed at some point. I’m sure this is the first you’ve heard of this. We Sens fans are not absolutely obsessed with this at all.

Not that you needed any of this pointed out [sad!] but why I feel like Eugene is the biggest problem facing the team is this:  Deep down I believe he is stalling the sale of his team as long as he can and operating the Sens on a shoestring season after season to pay down debt so the franchise is worth as much as possible when he eventually does sell it. It’s his business to run and I get why this would happen. However, if he truly loved the team as much as he says he does he’d realize it could be much better and more stable without such tight constraints on spending “when the time is right.”
I don’t know what to believe when he speaks (problem: I rarely believe him). I’m no Dom Trumps, you know, the business genius who bankrupted a casino, but when he says that in this market, you need to make the 2nd round of the playoffs to break even I don’t know how to make sense of that. The numbers show that attendance is very good compared to the rest of the league. This despite Ottawa being a city of 1 million people whose hockey fandom is divided in three among smart, good looking Sens fans who have pleasant smelling breath, and the remaining fucklords who attempting to connect with their parents, cheer for one of two other cities stupid, dumb teams [for jerks]. The team operates millions and millions of dollars under the salary cap, recently got a TV deal, the owner also owns the arena where Garth Brooks just had a sold out, month long residency. Oh and by the way it’s not always pretty but the team DOES make the playoffs most years. They’ve only missed 3 times in the 12 seasons he’s owned the team. The Panthers are older than the Sens, just made the playoffs for the 5th time EVER and didn’t even sell those games out. How are they making it work?
I digress. Operating the way he asks, he can’t expect things to somehow improve. We’re going to games, we’re buying the merch. We’re doing our bit. We’re also supposed to believe that the plan is that the Sens just magically make the playoffs past the first round every year, as is? That’s a risky plan when you consider the Islanders just won ONE round for the first time since Mika Zibanejad was born. They didn’t do it one time under the sole ownership of notorious cheapskate and Proto-Melnek, Charles Wang.

The Sens are still a relatively new franchise and I think a lot of current fans were converted during the Sens powerhouse years.  Melnyk is not helping develop the brand by creating an environment to scrape by in, badmouthing his employees and the players while threatening and even in some cases blaming fans in the media.

He is simply too broke to be in the business of winning anymore and it becomes more obvious with each passing season. His attitude toward his paying customers is contemptuous and alienating and this almost worries me the most as a person who lives and dies on Senators hockey. Thank you for saving the Sens, Eugene. We had a hell of a run with you writing the checks but face it now someone needs to save you.


Verdict: Sell the team to Rich Uncle Space Clown.



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