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Melnyk High on Sens, Low on Cash?

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk spoke to the media at the opening of the 'Sens Mile' on Ottawa's Elgin Street today. 

There were a few questions about the team on the ice, and how far they might be able to go in the reorganized Atlantic division after losing Daniel Alfredsson and adding Bobby Ryan in the off-season, but there were even more questions about the owner's ability or willingness to pony up the dough to make the team competitive. 

The Ottawa Citizen's Senators Extra has the full audio of Melnyk here (autoplay warning)

Among the stranger comments by Mr. Melnyk was when he was asked about the club's internal budget, and said that he'd "just found out yesterday" that they'd already exceeded it. This despite his admission that it was a statistical certainty that a team must be among the top half of the league to have any kind of success in a season (the Sens currently sit 26th in league spending per CapGeek.com a few spots behind the Phoenix Coyotes). 

Also of note was the Senators' owner's ongoing feud with the City of Ottawa and it's usually ubiquitous Mayor Jim Watson regarding Melnyk's dashed hopes to open a Casino at the Canadian Tire Centre. Watson's absence from the event was noted by Ottawa media (who really are used to seeing the Mayor everywhere) - but despite the snub, Melnyk appears to be softening his formerly aggressive stance somewhat.

Wayne Scanlan had that story:

Naturally, city reporters wondered if hizzoner was being snubbed, due to the hockey club’s ongoing battle with the city over a potential casino site next to Melnyk’s hockey arena in Kanata. The Senators owner was outraged over the handling of the casino file, claiming a marked card deck in favour of building one near the Rideau Carlton Raceway.

Melnyk has threatened legal action over the issue, and recently made some cutting remarks about Watson on a Toronto radio station.

But on Friday a more conciliatory Melnyk appealed to the city for co-operation to help the Senators “work through” the team’s problem generating the kind of revenues the owner says the team needs to thrive here.

“We’re now regrouping to see what we might be able to still do with the city’s co-operation,” Melnyk said. “At this point, we’re hoping for the best … all our options are open right now.”

Despite keeping his options on the table, though, Melnyk did commit to keeping the team in Ottawa - though he reiterated that he still has no plan 'C' after the Casino bid:

Melnyk reiterated he remains committed to the hockey club, but continued to sound the alarm on the difficulty of making ends meet running an NHL club in what he termed a “price-sensitive market” like Ottawa.

“As far as the organization is concerned, again … the idea of moving the team is just not a reality. That’s not going to happen,” Melnyk said.

Full story here

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, NHL Talk, NHL Business of Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: da+lil+guy, jim+watson, ottawa+casino

Comments

Avatar

I wish someone would point out these facts to Melnyk:
-The Senators were 6th in league-wide attendance last year
-They sit somewhere in the mid-teens in average ticket price (15th in 2011-2012; I couldn’t find numbers for last season)
-They went to the second round of the playoffs last year
-They drew 250K per local tv broadcast last season

And then ask him if the problem is with the market, or the league’s business model. Seriously, if a team that has all those things going for it can’t make money, something is seriously rotten with the system.

Posted by dzuunmod on 09/27/13 at 05:49 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Among the stranger comments by Mr. Melnyk was when he was asked about the club’s internal budget, and said that he’d “just found out yesterday” that they’d already exceeded it.

Not strange, he’s a lying liar who tells lies.  He’s lying one way or another.

Your owner, Sens fans!

Vote him out with your wallets if you don’t like him.

And then ask him if the problem is with the market, or the league’s business model. Seriously, if a team that has all those things going for it can’t make money, something is seriously rotten with the system.

Posted by dzuunmod on 09/27/13 at 06:49 PM ET

Let me introduce you to Rocky Wirtz.  Owner of the Chicago Blackhawks,  Very large, Original Six, US market.  Has won 2 of the past 4 Stanley Cups.  And still claims to lose money every year.

It’s a scam.  In both cases it’s owners trying to use their teams to cover up something else.

Posted by Primis on 09/27/13 at 08:01 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

well if he would stop keeping CSI Ottawa on retainer he would save some money LOL

Posted by Evilpens on 09/27/13 at 08:16 PM ET

Avatar

Let me introduce you to Rocky Wirtz.  Owner of the Chicago Blackhawks,  Very large, Original Six, US market.  Has won 2 of the past 4 Stanley Cups.  And still claims to lose money every year.

It’s a scam.  In both cases it’s owners trying to use their teams to cover up something else.

Or, you know, it’s not… and spending 64 million dollars on hockey players plus every other expense that entails (travel, hotels, doctors, front office… figure another 10 mil on all that easy) makes it pretty hard to generate money from hockey ops when you only have 41 home games, have to split your playoff gate with a bunch of dog franchises, and have a crap national TV deal.

The economics of the NHL have always historically been the ability of the owner to absorb losses, sometimes 8 figure losses, in hockey ops so they can break even on a larger scale with stadium ops and other peripherals while one hopes the overall value of the franchise increases over time.

The risk for owners is in how big they allow those hockey op losses to get.  This is likely what Melnyk is doing here.

Oh, I’m sure raw ego plays it’s own special part here too.  Being balked in an opportunity to enrich himself through public largess definitely raises the ire of the rich and self-important… but Melnyk wouldn’t cost himself too much money over that kind of pique.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/27/13 at 09:33 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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