With the playoffs over for his Ottawa Senators, owner Eugene Melnyk is doling out interviews more often than Glenn Healy can publicly fawn over Sidney Crosby on HNiC. While his sky is blue interviews for the Ottawa Sun and the Ottawa Citizen can be read here and here respectively, one thing that did stick out was this portion of his conversation with Bruce Garrioch…
Q: There’s been a lot of discussion about Jason Spezza and his no-trade clause. Murray insinuated on the radio that Spezza was very emotional and didn’t like being booed. Are we going to go through another summer where you’re going to be moving a star player?
MELNYK: That’s going to be Bryan’s decision. There’s a little bit of misconception about how hands-on I am. I keep myself knowledgeable. But at the end of the day, the people that I hire make the decisions because they’re accountable for those decisions and it’s their responsibility. Do we talk about it? Do I want to understand what is the rationale behind it? Absolutely. That to me is important to know the logic behind any transaction. (But) it’s their decision to make. If they came to me, “We want to do this or that,” then I’ll ask all the hard questions. But at the end of the day, it’s their decision and I don’t think I’ve ever overruled a decision.
It would be much easier to buy into what he was saying if he wasn’t the same owner who once said, “Anybody that says we should blow up this organization should get their own bomb and go blow themselves up. This is not an organization that is completely crippled. It needs fine tuning, it needs some tweaking, it needs a player here, a player there, a few good bounces and that’s it. But we are nowhere near that type of environment.”
Now, as a result, many fans like myself take The Euge with a grain of salt. From the to the perpetuated mainstream media opinion that Melnyk had his fingerprints all over the Alexei Kovalev signing, to Bryan Murray trading a first round pick for Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli, it has always seemed like the organization had a mandate to win now. Call it the Brian Lee corollary.
As a non-playoff team in the salary cap era, it never made any sense for the organization to peddle a high draft pick, the most valuable currency in the NHL, for a washed up UFA and healthy scratch on the Island. The only answer that I could come up with at the time was that the team wanted to inflate its win totals for the remainder of the season and demonstrate to fans that they weren’t as bad as some people thought.
Even the coaching decisions helped foster my belief. Look back to when Bryan Murray acquired a future number one starting goaltender in Pascal Leclaire (Ed. note: still hoping), Cory Clouston dressed Alex Auld for the bulk of the starts during the team’s final ten games. It’s not as though Auld’s value increased exponentially after those starts, it would have been more beneficial to let Elliott get in as many games as possible let help him develop for the future.
I think Ted Leonsis had it right when he wrote, And then I think this player should stand up and communicate to his team’s fan base about their plan to compete for a Cup and how they will qualify for the playoffs year after year. And then back it up. It is a simple formula: Outline a plan – communicate it – back it up.