I’ve waited a couple days. Taken time to reflect and make sure I completely understood everything I heard on Tuesday. Listened to the interviews multiple times, going over the details of what was said and trying to piece it altogether. At the same time, I’ve combined this with the additional information I’ve gathered from sources and contacts over the last couple seasons. And I’ve come to a conclusion.
Eugene Melnyk is completely full of shit. And I’m sick of it.
I’ll start with a bit of a disclaimer. I have no idea what Eugene Melnyk’s current financial situation is like. I don’t know how his other businesses are doing and I don’t know if he’s made money off this team over the last ten years. He claims no. I think otherwise. But again, I have no idea if he has money. So we’ll get that out of the way right off the bat. That’s not what this post is about.
No this is about the lies, the manipulation and the devastating reality that our organization will never win a Stanley Cup with Eugene Melnyk calling the shots.
I understand that he owns the team. That he is free to do with it what he pleases and that it’s not for me to decide how he should spend his money. But the way I see it, the Ottawa Senators also belong to this city and to the fans that have supported the team from Day 1, with their own hard earned money. Sure it’s not the millions required to run a hockey team but it matters. And right now, our Owner is running our team into the ground and lying right to our faces while he does it.
His primary talking point, over the last season and a bit, has become “spending wisely”. As though before this epiphany no thought went into the decisions. That he in his infinite wisdom has come up with a strategy that the rest of the idiot Owners completely missed. Rather than sign talented players for market value contracts, we’ll develop our own talent and at low, low prices! Genius. Super risky to keep sharing our secret strategy on the radio though.
Anyway, the idea here is that instead of spending money on existing talent and retaining franchise players, our money is now being directed towards player development. That even with the massive TV deals signed, we still need to focus our spending on player development. Sorry, Eugene. Bullshit. That’s easy to say, because as fans we have no way of knowing how much you or any other teams spends on “developing players” but I am pretty confident Ottawa isn’t outspending the top teams in this regard.
And on top of that, Eugene has the nerve to say that he “proved” he was willing to spend when the team added Ales Hemsky at the deadline. You remember, don’t you? When we gave away Cory Conacher, somehow loaned Joe Corvo to another AHL organization (I didn’t even know you could do this?!) and gave away an extra draft pick so that the Oilers would take on some salary and acquired that high price talent. Back up the Brinks truck, because Eugene is ready to spend!
I know that as the Owner of the team he needs to sell hope. I just wish he would admit that at this stage in his Ownership, his priority is making money. Whether it’s to recover some of the apparent losses from other seasons, or it’s a message to the city over the whole Casino thing, it’s pretty clear Eugene is done spending money on this hockey team. The guy who sold us on dreams of one day bringing the Stanley Cup to Ottawa, is dead and gone. This is business man Eugene. And he’ll do whatever it takes to turn a profit. If the team has success and makes the playoffs? That’s even better because it means more money.
It’s already been confirmed that the budget will be similar next season. Despite the deals with Canadian Tire and TSN, we’ll still be in the $56-57 million dollar range when it comes to payroll. Right near the cap floor and with the league’s bottom feeders in terms of player spending. Because just because you have money in your pocket, doesn’t mean you should spend it. He’s spent to the cap before and it doesn’t work. Eugene’s words, not mine.
I’ve seen it in the comment section and on Twitter. I’ve heard it in the rink and in bars. Fans are frustrated and they have every right to be. Internally, people are frustrated. In hockey ops. The players. The coaches. The sales people. The game day staff. Everybody is frustrated.
But ya know what? Despite all this, we still have a damn good hockey team. A strong core of young players that have been assembled over the years by smart hockey people not because Melnyk provided them with additional resources but because the hockey ops people we do have are damn good at their jobs. It’s terrifying to think where this team would be without Bryan Murray, Tim Murray before his departure, Pierre Dorion, Randy Lee and the scouting staff.
We’ve been able to acquire young stars like Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan, and sell them on our city not because of the Owner, but because this organization is filled with good people and because this fan base is one that players are proud to play for. Somewhat miraculously, the future remains bright for the Ottawa Senators. But it won’t stay that way forever.
Anybody who has followed this site knows that I am the most positive fan out there. Often to a fault, I’ve heaped praise on this organization, always choosing to look on the more optimistic side of things. When they signed that giant TV deal I thought to myself, finally. Finally we are free from the soul sucking internal budget and can get back to chasing the Stanley Cup.
Yet on Tuesday, it was another gut punch from Eugene. Melnyk had the nerve to lie to us one more time. To try and trick the people that pay for tickets and really keep this organization afloat. He had the nerve to point the finger at every single person in this organization- management, coaches, players, training staff, fans and not once point the finger in his own direction.
I’m as optimistic as they come. I want to be hopeful. I want to believe that the team that I’ve supported since I was 8 years old could someday be the last team standing at the end of the season. But the harsh reality is that as long as this version of Eugene Melnyk is the Owner; it’s just not going to happen.
And that fucking sucks.