Melnyk Speaks – Some Listen, Others Cringe

With only a few games left in the season, I suppose it was only a matter of time before The Euge made another Fan 590 radio appearance. So grab your Kool-Aid and grab your Barbados rum, mix yourself a Huge Euge and listen to what he had to say.

As always, my comments will be in bold.

Q: Pertaining to the prognosis on Alfie and the speculation that his career could be over.

A: You know, I’m going to be in Ottawa later on this week for our last game and have a chance to chat with him and see how he feels. Daniel wants to play. Trust me. This guy is an animal. He can play with more pain than any player that I’ve ever seen. He recovers quicker and becomes healthier than any other player in the NHL in living memory. But it’s completely up to him. It would be great to have him because we’ve got four veterans that we’ve kept… that’s really what it is… from the original ’07 Stanley Cup Final team. And they’re there to mentor… well, they’re there to win of course… but one of their key roles is also a mentoring role for all of the young guys coming in and Daniel would be phenomenal in that role because he gets along well with virtually everyone. So, it would be a shame if the decision was made but it’s his decision. At the end of the day, it’s his body and it’s his life and I just really hope that he can play.

For a man who told fans earlier this season to, “Buckle up! We’re going all the way!”, the lack of false bravado here is noticeable. He sure as hell doesn’t sound like a confident owner who believes that an Alfie return is a foregone conclusion.

Q: Decisions regarding the future of the coach and general manager, accountability and has Melnyk started the process of figuring out what to do?

A: Oh yeah. You’ve got to be kidding… I’ve been thinking about this since the beginning of the year when things started going south for us. I really thought that on paper, we had the team that could go easily into the playoffs… the playoffs wasn’t even in the discussion… it was how deep would we go? And something went terribly wrong… To try and pinpoint it on any one thing is absolutely impossible because we’ve tried. I’ve lost sleep over it. Bryan’s lost sleep. Cory has lost sleep. Everybody… There is no one thing that you could point to say ‘A-ha! This is what happened’. It’s not like your goalie fell apart. It’s not like your veterans fell apart. It’s not injuries. It’s a combination of every… you know, the perf… I hate to coin the phrase but it was the perfect storm. Everything that could possibly go wrong but you can’t figure out what it was. So at one point, you have got to sit down and say, ‘what went right?”. And the one thing that we do know is that if we played in the beginning of the season and into the mid-season the way we’re playing now, we would be a playoff contender. You see these kids coming out there and try and fight their way into the NHL, it’s just one of the most rewarding things to see. But that’s what they’re doing. They’re fighting and this is their shot.

Damn. As a listened to The Euge list the excuses, I was hoping he’d lump in, “I told my GM to sign Alexei Kovalev.” It’s pretty interesting to hear him bring up the perfect storm analogy. Did he start owning the New Jersey Devils all of a sudden? Or am I wrong to believe that a perfect storm requires a rare combination of circumstances for it to occur?

In its preseason prediction piece, The Hockey News picked the Senators to finish out of the playoffs, writing: 

Unrestricted free agency cost the Senators a tough-as-nails defensive defenseman, but they gained one of the best, albeit aging, puckmoving blueliners in the game. Sergei Gonchar was brought in to help out the league’s 21st-ranked power play next to youngster Erik Karlsson. Without any other off-season moves to address a shaky situation in goal, however, it will be a touch-and-go year in Canada’s capital. Without an extravagant 11-game winning streak in 2009-10, the Sens wouldn’t have finished as high as they did and a run like that can’t be expected again.

Granted, what happened in Ottawa was a pretty shitacular but it’s not like what happened was unforeseen. With one of the oldest rosters in the league, Pascal Leclaire in the nets and significant knee injuries to two of the teams top six forwards, it’s not too hard to see why this team unraveled. Looking at the last few sentences, it certainly looks like Melnyk is getting caught up in the youth movement. Hopefully he doesn’t overestimate what these kids can bring to the table next season. I’ll get to the what went right thing a little bit later…

Q: Have you decided what you’re going to do in regards to the coaching and management?

A: Yep.

But that can change. He’s whimsical like that.

Q: Want to tell us?

A: Nope. It was really tough. It was unbearable to finally admit that you are a loser.

Charlie Sheen co-signs this message.

[…]

Once you’re in a death spiral, it’s over. You can’t dig yourself out of those holes. It just gets worse and worse and worse… and the next thing you know, it all falls apart. What we did is one month before the trade deadline, we made the decision that we’ve got to pack it in and we’ve got to rebuild. And we’ve started that process and Bryan has done an excellent job in doing that. Listen, a lot of GMs and people in general would just sit there and say, ‘Listen, I’ve got no guarantee that I’m around next year. Why should I bust myself to try and do something here? I’ll do it for somebody else.’ He did a 180-degrees of that and was able to do the best that he could do and brought in some fantastic talent. The latest being this NCAA kid who is a phenom. Da Costa is just one of these guys who everyone was after and we landed him and now he’s probably going to play, if he plays up to par, he’s going to be our second line center. So, you pick these kinds of people up for under a million dollars and I think that’s a huge score. We’ve got 5 draft picks in the first two rounds next year. We’re going to be able to trade up if we want to. And that’s the only reason, I thought it was going to take… I was ready for 3-4 years… I think it can be done in a couple…

Q: Really?

I would have interjected with a “I’d like some of what you’ve been drinking” comment but carry on…

A: Oh yeah! When the decision was made, it was like ‘Buckle down for four years,’ but then all of a sudden you started seeing him at work and what we were able to get for guys like Fisher and some of the other players that we traded away. This could be… We could be back in the playoffs next year and we could be a major contender within two years.

Yes, credit to Bryan Murray for doing a decent job at the deadline for peddling some expendable assets and acquiring some draft picks that can be packaged to move up in the draft. But who’s Melnyk kidding when he says that other people wouldn’t have busted themselves when they could have done it for somebody else? Bryan Murray is 68 years of age and is from Shawville. Where else is he supposed to go? Looking at the talent that has been brought in and used in a top six capacity at some point this season, Da Costa and Butler aside, most — Wick, Condra, Greening, Regin — have been John Muckler draft picks.

I don’t think anyone will question that Da Costa’s (now dubbed ‘Le Phenom!’) signing was good for the organization because it was of the low risk/high reward variety. So credit to the organization for signing him, but there’s a reason why Ottawa was competing against Minnesota and Florida for his services. With most teams vying for playoff spots, most couldn’t afford to guarantee him playing time at the NHL level right now. I get that Melnyk feels obliged to spin everything positively because he is the owner and needs to sell some tickets but just listening to what Melnyk has to say about Da Costa and the accelerated rebuild movement, I can’t help but shake my head.

Q: That sure sounds like an unqualified endorsement of your general manager.

A: Well, we’ve got to be careful though. What I’m saying here is that I’m speaking to character as well. And there’s a lot of good guys in our organization because we’ve gotten rid of all the bad guys. And my hat is off to him actually stepping up to the plate very similar to what Dave Cameron did. Here’s a guy – he doesn’t have to go back to the OHL. He’s in Binghamton already. His next step is an assistant or even a coach in the NHL and he comes back to help me out. I put a lot of weight into people who are loyal and it’s not easy to find in professional sports. And once you do find these people, you have got to think real long and hard before you move in a different direction.

“We’ve gotten rid of the bad guys?”

Melnyk, you arsonist. Way to pour some gasoline on those flames. Here are the odds for who he could have been referring to:
Kovalev 2:1
Elliott 4:1
Leclaire 10:1
Campoli 25:1
Kelly 50:1
Fisher 100:1

If you want to listen to the audio, you can listen to it below.


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