Making one of his regular appearances on TSN1050, Darren Dreger hit on an issue which at least to this point has gone unremarked upon by most outside media – the outlook on the Ottawa Senators' financial situation.
When asked whether today's decision to demote Mika Zibanejad to Binghamton was driven by dollars and cents, Dreger said:
“Yeah, it is a real tough one. You know, when you talk to those inside that organization, they’re not really surprised by how well the team did last year. They certainly heaped expectation on how good they could be this year based on last year, but that’s because of how well this team has drafted and continued to develop (players) in the American (Hockey) League. But they have good young players who are ready to step into the National Hockey League, but because of the dollars that they’ve paid elsewhere in trying to build themselves back into contending status, they’re above budget. And another thing that needs to be considered here, and it was an Ottawa source who pointed this out, so I suppose it’s somewhat specific to Ottawa – the CBA hasn’t helped the budget teams in some differing ways. For example, business class for players who have to travel more than three hours from the American (Hockey) League or those types of things. The room on the road – the individual room on the road for players who are coming out of entry-level and all of that. And the medical expenses – the fourth and second opinion where clubs have to pay for that. In theory, it could cost the Ottawa Senators legitimately upwards of $2 million or more for one season. When you’re a budget team and you weren’t budgeting on that extra $2 million, that’s a pretty good player or maybe two pretty good players. So, there’s always going to be some financial woes that seem to hover over this club.”
Now the Senators have claimed they lost $94 million over the past ten years, so news of Ottawa's financial plight isn't anything new. I'm not sure what Dreger's going on about with these unforeseen CBA issues – unless it comes out that Milan Michalek's blood serum treatment in Germany cost the Senators a bazillion dollars.
Honestly Dreger is such an ownership shill that it's difficult to take this seriously.
Also making an appearance on TSN1050 today was the NHL Commissioner and he had the following things to say (h/t to Yost for tweeting the Dreger and Bettman audio):
On how with the strength of the Canadian dollar being what it is and having made the second round of the playoffs, the Ottawa Senators can be losing money in the current economic model…
“You know, I make it a practice not to discuss individual team economics and so, without hopefully disappointing you, that’s a question that you’ll have to ask Eugene Melnyk because I’m not going to speak to any club’s economic issues or opportunities; that’s really a club issue. We believe that under the system we have, every team should be in a position to afford to be competitive – that is the goal. I suppose in any particular year, a club could have some issues either on the revenue side or the expense side which could cause them not to have the bottom line performance that they want, but overall, the long-term goal is to keep everyone competitive in a way that they can afford to.”
On Ottawa being a team that requires having any extra attention for…
“They’re not as far as I’m concerned on a critical list. But you know, what’s interesting is the Coyotes, the Panthers and the Devils were the subject of incredible and intense scrutiny, rumour, speculation that they were in dire straits. They were probably never as bad off as was being suggested – some of that may have come from places that were hoping that one or more of the clubs would fail so that they would have to relocate to somewhere else. I don’t think we’re looking at any franchises that rise to that level that the speculation went to with those three teams.”
Classic Bettman, deny the problem and then go further and deny that a more obvious problem also wasn't a problem.
I'm just interested to see if Bettman tries to orchestrate a pow-wow between himself, Melnyk and Watson, much like he did with Daryl Katz and Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel last year. If that doesn't happen, kinda speaks volumes of how the higher ups at the NHL view the Senators owner.