No doubt about it, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is one of the most divisive owners in the NHL. Since buying the team out of bankruptcy back in 2003, Melnyk has been notoriously tight fisted. The Senators are one of the lowest salaried teams in the NHL and Melnyk always seems to take issue with fans and media who call him out on his cheapness. There’s also a belief that Melnyk asserts much too much control over personnel decisions, a trend that’s not likely to stop given that he recently christened himself CEO of the organization.
Earlier this season, with the Sens at the bottom of the NHL standings, Melnyk made some controversial comments about potentially moving the team out of Ottawa if the team doesn’t receive fan support.
“If it doesn’t look good here… it could look very, very good somewhere else. If you open a grocery store and nobody comes to your store, but two blocks down there’s a lineup to get into another store… where are you going to put your store?”
Needless to say, these comments did NOT go over well with Sens fans who revolted back with the #MelnykOut campaign:
No doubt that things have gotten ugly in Ottawa. Fans want Melnyk out, yet Melnyk refuses to leave or make any attempt to mend bridges. Enter NHL commission Gary Bettman.
Bettman was asked point blank last night about the situation in Ottawa and Sens fans may not be happy with his assessment of things. Put bluntly, Melnyk isn’t going anywhere.
Gary Bettman on the #sens: I can tell you for sure that the franchise is not for sale.
In other words, don’t expect a White Knight to come swooping in to save this team from Melnyk anytime soon.
If you’re a Sens fan, how deflating is this news? Melnyk has repeatedly said that he has no plans to sell the team EVER… despite whatever ridiculous offer he may get. In effect he’s holding the team hostage… yet he claims that he continues to lose money season after season. Something’s not adding up and frankly we feel bad for fans of this franchise. Until this team gets an ownership group that’s committed to doing whatever’s necessary to win and be successful, they’re going to face an uphill battle every season.