Eugene Melnyk Speaks In Brydenisms

At a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sens Mile this afternoon, Eugene Melnyk proceeded to get everyone excited for the sesaon by discussing the organization’s financial wherewithal.

You can find a full transcript of the Euge’s comments on the Senators’ official blog Inside the Senate (which by the way is maintained by Chris Lund who’s doing some excellent work for the organization), but you can read what I found interesting below.

As always, my thoughts are in bold.

On if the budget will change for potential rental players:

“We're already are over budget, I just found out yesterday, but as I said we'll do whatever it takes. We've got to be smart about it, I'm not a big fan of rentals, but if we need to fill a spot I'll leave that to Bryan (Murray) to come back and say this could make a big difference for us, especially if we need to fill a spot so that's not beyond the realm of reality that we have to live with. As things stand now we have so much depth in our organization, down in Bingo and even guys we're sending back to junior, one of our good problems is we have so many good, young players. It's tough, I was at yesterday's game and the game before and guys that you thought just weren't going to cut it all of a sudden are stepping up and it's unbelievable what's going on. I just don't know at this point.”

The Senators are already over budget on the money allocated for paying player salaries? To put this in perspective, the team has the 28th lowest salary cap payroll at $56,935,833 and the 27th lowest real money being spent on payroll at $52,377,500. Although they're not a cap floor team per se (note: the salary floor is set at $44 million), relative to their peers, they are definitely on the low-end of the scale.

Whether it’s been management or the owner, the organization has repeatedly said that it can spend and add to payroll if it sees fit. However, what are they going to say otherwise? Every time Melnyk opens his mouth, it turns into a mild PR disaster and it’s not like the organization is going to send a message to its fan base that it’s unwilling to spend the money necessary to build this once-rebuilding franchise into a contender. Eventually the time will come for ownership to shit or get off the pot and when that time comes, you can bet the fan base will stop paying attention to the organization’s lip service.

On the casino deal and his involvement with the club:

“Well, you know what I've decided to keep quiet about it for about a month, but no, my involvement remains — I'm a natural hockey fan, this is not a business but you have to treat it like a business because otherwise you're not going to have a business and you're not going to have a team. There was no plan C and we're now regrouping to see what we might be able to still do with the city's cooperation and at this point we're hoping for the best, but as far as the organization is concerned, again, the idea of moving the team is not a reality. It's not going to happen, but what is going to happen is if the salary cap is going to increase — I know it, it's just going to happen, the revenues of the league are going very, very well, they've fixed all the problem franchises and now people are spending to the cap. We spent to the cap two years in a row and didn't make the playoffs so I'm not a big fan of spending because you've just got to spend, but we need cooperation and help, it's as simple as that, because we're being outspent by everyone else and to be competitive you have to be at least in the top half of spenders. That's a stat, it's not just something I've made up, you have to be in the top half — we are — if you're not you don't have much of a chance, it's just not going to happen.”

This is vintage Brydenism – a classic class of appealing to some level of government to give the organization a break and in the process, fandangling the optics to ensure that hockey fans will be sympathetic to their pleas.

As justified as Melnyk’s vitriol towards City Council’s decision to single source the casino bidding process has been, I reserve some skepticism whether the Senators owner would reinvest the revenue generated by a casino back into his hockey team’s payroll.

The greatest fear in all of this is isn’t that the Senators aren’t financially viable and are destined to move. They simply won’t. Moving the team won’t happen because Gary Bettman won’t let it happen. I know much is made about how Melnyk saved this organization (and built up a lot of equity with this fan base in the process) from a prospective move to an area like Hamilton, but the NHL Commissioner never gets credit for doing his part to keep the franchise in this city.

No, the greatest fear is that all of the hard work and effort done by the Senators management and scouting staff throughout this rebuilding process will be for naught. If the payroll is already exhausted at $52 million, how are the Senators going to remain competitive when the cap ceiling is expected to reach the $70 million threshold next season? And moreover, how is a stringent internal budget going to entice impending free agents to remain in Ottawa if they can’t afford to surround them with talent?

This Plan C keeps getting brought up over and over again, and the City even acknowledged it saying, “When you have a Plan C, we’re ready.”

Well, considering the life expectancy of an arena is typically in the 30-40 years of service range, Plan C will hopefully center on the location of the Ottawa Senators’ next home.

On if the team is in jeopardy:

“No, if you recall 10 years ago I was the only guy standing, there was no one else. People say "Oh you could get an equity buyer" or you could do this, I don't see anybody, I don't get any phone calls. Those people don't exist, but the best thing to do is you have to turn it around and just work the problem. That's what we've got to do we've got to work the problem and without — this is a price sensitive market and we need to be able to compete and we're doing everything we can to do that. But no, there's no jeopardy there.”

This sounds like a bit of an about-face on the possibility of sharing ownership with another individual. At the time that Hockey Central broke news that Melnyk was looking at possibly selling some stake of team and Bruce Garrioch reiterated to Hockey Central’s panel that Melnyk told him that ‘He’s not that kind of guy (to take on a partner).’

So far, everything that Hockey Central said back in October of 2012 has checked out, so why should we believe Melnyk when he says that no one has shown interest in coming on board as a minority owner now?

Even at the time, Melnyk may have been the last one standing but he was far from the only one who showed interest. He may continue to try and build up equity in the fan base by portraying himself as the white knight who saved the franchise, but we can’t pretend like he was the only one who was interested. Nelson Peltz, described as a notorious tire-kicker by Elliotte Friedman, was another prospective buyer.

Having attended a Senators game during the preliminary process, Bettman said of Peltz at the time, “This doesn't mean anything is imminent and I really don't want you to think something is going to happen just because he's here. He's taking a look at (the Senators), but he's not the only one."

Eugene Melnyk Speaks Some Nonsense


*don't publish this yet, still editing*


Lost in all of the lockout conversation around these parts has been the voice of Eugene Melnyk. Well, no more. Yesterday the Senators owner broke his silence joining Bob McCown and Damien Cox on Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590. 

Winter Classic, Brad Fritsch, ECHL

During the 4 o'clock hour of PTS as McCown is setting up the show does allude to the rumours that surfaced again last week pertaining to the Senators being for sale.

To listen to the interview in its entirety click here

As always, my thoughts are in bold

Q: The greatest fear is that hockey goes right out of peoples’ consciousness entirely.

“Yeah, I don’t think that I’d get in trouble for telling you one thing. I remember in 1994, I was a rabid baseball fan; like I’m talking about being a 40 to 45 game guy when I still lived in Toronto – or I just moved away but I was watching… I watched all of the World Series and (Toronto) winning it and I went to Atlanta, the whole thing. I was a crazy, crazy baseball fan and after the strike, I was gone. I could not tell you… I know one guy, and it kind of shows where my head is at, I know there is a guy called Rodriguez who makes a lot of money; that’s all I know. I’m telling you, I could not name another player *laughing* and I don’t care.”

Eugene Melnyk is laughing about being a rabid baseball fan and no longer caring for the sport following the player’s strike in 1994. Does he not understand how fucking ridiculous that makes him look?

Q: Having sold your junior hockey franchise, you’re right out of the hockey business too with the Senators not playing.

“Believe it or not, I really track… not only Binghamton, Binghamton is the big leagues. I track the Elmira Jackals. It shows you where I am at. I’ve got five players on the Elmira Jackals and I bought the season package to watch it on my computer! And they jacked up the prices five-fold during this lockout.”

Imagining Eugene furiously trying to find illegal ECHL streams.

Q: Is there any danger that this being the second lockout in seven or eight years, do you get concerned about corporations that tire of this and decide to take their dollars somewhere else?

“It’s a good question. ‘Do you get concerned?’ I’m concerned every day about everything. You’re talking to the guy who watches the Elmira Jackals, don’t you forget.”

Q: What’s their record, the Elmira Jackals?

“I think they’re… last I checked, I don’t know how they did last weekend. Oh, yes I do. They’re six and two. They split with Hershey. You understand that we’re talking about the ECHL?”

Elmira is 5 and 1. On Friday, October 26th and Saturday, October 27th, they played two games Cincinnati. There is no team from Hershey in the ECHL. The Hershey Bears are the AHL affiliate for the Washington Capitals and they last played two games against the Binghamton Senators on the weekend of October 19th through 21st.

Q: So get back to the sponsors, do you worry that if this season is lost, isn’t there some danger that some of these guys will not take a chance on investing in your product?

“Well, that’s where we cross the line into me needing a cheque from you for $250,000 for my (NHL-imposed) fine. I’d rather plug that team that I was talking about earlier. Yeah, I can’t comment on that.”

Q: Do you have at team policy in terms of your employees during this – that you’re going to layoff, not layoff at a certain point? What’s your policy?

“Yeah, we have a set policy that was put in place a long time ago. We did let go, it was very public, so it’s not something I’m saying out of turn, a substantial amount of people. Behind the feds (Federal Government), we’re the second largest employer in Ottawa, period. We’re huge. Yeah, we’re huge. It does make a difference to a lot of people and we had to put a plan in place that would reflect that. It’s sad. These are real people looking for real jobs so we’re cognizant of that. We’re trying to do our best; that’s the best that we can do.”

A few things here: a) It is absolutely awesome to see the Euge use the word ‘huge’; b) The Senators layoffs were well publicized but the team declined to comment on how many people were affected. Cyril Leeder would only go on to say, “It's a significant number — more than 10 (laid off). It's a significant number. We provided notice about a month ago and it took effect today,”; and c) I’m as confident that the Ottawa Senators are not the second largest employer in the city of Ottawa as I am confident that Elmira does not have a record of 6-2.

Q: Would there be more layoffs coming if this continues?

“There usually would be. I’m not sure of the exact plans, but I do know that there is a plan in place. You try to minimize it as much as you can, and I think we have got a cohesive plan together and I think we’ve implemented a big portion of it already.”

Q: Would I be wrong to assume that these people will get their jobs back when hockey resumes?

“Yeah, pretty much so. Absolutely. These are hockey people. People that are game day people that come out just for the individual games, concerts and that sort of thing; that still exists… so you do have a core (group of) people that has to be there regardless. Other than that, we have literally thousands of people that work for us and are specific to hockey.”