Following today's news that Randy Lee and Pierre Dorion would be taking on Tim Murray's former role and responsibilities, the Ottawa Senators owner made an appearance on the FAN590's Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown and Elliotte Friedman.
To listen to the full interview, click here or you can stream the full interview via the embedded audio below.
As always, my thoughts in bold.
On feeling better about his hockey team of late…
“Well I think they’ve got their act… well, I think everything has finally started to come together for us and I’m very, very pleased that it has. I think that after a kind of shaky start, we’re now starting to show what we have as far as talent is concerned and we’re excited about it. We’re playing well.”
They've got their act together, I'll say it.
On whether there was a point when the team wasn’t playing well where he had to stop himself from making a move that was inspired by their play…
“The quick answer is no. You’ve got to try to, especially in this game, what I came to the conclusion of and I think Bryan (Murray) did as well, and we of course, Bryan Murray and I speak every couple of days, every day sometimes, it depends… but, when things go bad, we talk almost every day and when things are good, I don’t talk to him for a week. We came to the conclusion that what happened, I think, was that you had the exodus of a major player – Daniel Alfredsson, your captain – you bring in a somebody as big of a player as Bobby Ryan, you’ve got young kids growing up into NHL players and all of a sudden, everybody is now healthy. Last year, if you’ll recall, we had a disaster in injuries and now everybody is there. So all of a sudden, Paul MacLean, the coach, is handed a deck of cards and (is told), ‘Okay, this is everybody that you have to work with. Good luck.’ And, it took some time for them to juggle things around and see who gels with who, and I think it took that long for them to finally get it and figure it out and get the team to where it is today. And they’ve got a tremendous record now in their past 12 to 13 games, and hopefully going into Sochi, we’ve got 13 more games to go, that we can repeat that performance and we would be right up there (in the standings).”
Ottawa's record in its last 13 games is 7-4-2 and 7-3-2 in its last 12 games. I don't want to get overexcited about a small sample size like this, but the Senators have unquestionably played better since the beginning of December.
On Murray creating the impression that this team is willing to go for it with Bobby Ryan and Jason Spezza while they’re under contract. Is he now in a position to take on money and do that…
“Well, I think the UFA market is not a market I’d like to play in, at all. I think it’s an inflated market. I think it’s a market that I’d let other guys play in and good luck to them. They all overpay usually, but what I am interested in, is in bringing in pieces, if required, to fill in spots going into the trading deadline. That is where we can take on more money and ensure ourselves to be competitive into the playoffs and beyond. So that is kind of a change. It’s not really a change, but it is somewhere where we can loosen up some things. And we’re expecting a substantial regional (broadcast) deal for us on all our various rights that we have. Attendance is up. It’s doing very, very well, so we’re in a pretty good spot. The thing is… it’s a great problem that we have. I believe that the only currency in the NHL is not money, it is (draft) picks and prospects. It is as simple as that and we have so many prospects. We have guys that should be playing in the NHL next year for sure that won’t make the team because the roster is full. We were looking for, if you looked two months ago, we were looking for a (puck)-moving defenceman and all of a sudden, we called up a guy, Ceci, and the guy… he’s not going back, he’s part of the team now. So we don’t need (to make a trade to get that puck-moving defenceman). If you have an injury and then you have to fill a void, then absolutely, but I think that is where we’re going to be looking at. If we have to find somebody in the UFA (market), we’re going to be very, very cautious of how we spend our money. And at the end of the day, all that really counts is points per dollar and that’s the way I measure us and I think that’s the way every team should be measuring themselves.”
I understand and appreciate where Melnyk's coming from, but that UFA market also helped the Senators net perhaps one of the most egregiously undervalued free agents available in Clarke MacArthur. For all of the bad and impulsive buys, there are good deals to be found each and every year.
It's interesting that Melnyk makes no bones about linking the impending regional broadcast rights agreement with the team's ability to add at the deadline.
On whether he’d be open to acquiring pure rentals or would he be willing to bring in players with term left…
“Both. We’ll listen to anybody and we’re open to business that way. Like I said, we’re just not going to get silly, that’s all. But, there are spots that we may need to fill, but right now, I think we’re good. But, we’ve been blessed with a couple of things: one is, we haven’t had… knock on wood… we haven’t had any major injuries, unlike last year where we had five of our top players out of the lineup; and number two, after we lost to Anaheim in the Finals of the Stanley Cup, we had a ton of players that went over to the Olympics and we lost (Dominik) Hasek. That could have been… the goalie… that could have been the difference of the Stanley Cup for us and I did a study, a very extensive study on the correlation between the number of players a team sends to the Olympics and (the team’s) post-Olympic performance and there is an exact reverse correlation – meaning the more players you send, the worse you’ll do afterwards. It’s too bad for some of our players that aren’t going. I only have two. Back then, I think, I forgot who the Stanley Cup winner was, I think they had three or four or five…”
Elliotte Friedman interjects, “In 2006, it was Carolina.”
“Anaheim won because they beat us…”
EF: “Oh, later on… I see what you’re saying, yeah.”
“Yeah, that was the year that we lost Hasek. Hasek played goal and we lost him to an injury. A stupid injury. It was a groin injury and we lost in five games to Anaheim in the (Stanley Cup) Finals.”
He seems to genuinely believe the Sens went to the Stanley Cup Finals (which they did in 2007) in an Olympic year (which was 2006).
Hilariously Friedman's helpful prodding can't dissaude him either.
This is just as bad as the people who to this day blame Bryan Murray for choosing to sign Redden while letting Chara walk…BEFORE HE WAS THE GENERAL MANAGER!
Moreover, as someone who says he has done an extensive "study" into the correlation between Olympics participation (though if he can't keep simple things like years straight kinda calls into question the accuracy of said study), it would have been interesting had one of the hosts probed Melnyk a little bit further on the issue because in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the Stanley Cup winning Blackhawks sent six players to Vancouver and the other finalist, Philadelphia, sent seven players. Only Anaheim (8), Boston (7), Detroit (7), San Jose (8) and Vancouver (7) sent more. (Note: three other teams sent six players.)
Interestingly, the Western Conference Semi-Finals featured, Chicago, Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver while the Eastern Conference had Pittsburgh (5), Montreal (5), Boston and Philadelphia. At least in this instance, there wasn't really much substance to Melnyk's claim that rested teams fared better.
On whether he’s in favour of sending NHL players to the Olympics…
“I used to be as a patriot, but as an owner of a NHL team… of course we want to win a gold (medal), you’ve got to be kidding. I’ve gone to every Olympics to see these guys, but I’m not crazy about my players going only because of my fear of: one, being hurt; and two, think of my guys. These guys, they’re all asking me, ‘How are the Bahamas? Can we come to the Barbados? Can we go on a cruise?’ They are all going to be chilling out somewhere having pina coladas on a beach. And these (other players) are over there in Sochi, playing every day and going crazy in different time zones. And my guys are rested up and coming back just can’t wait to play. So you’ve got to look at it from a practical point of view, my guys… everybody that doesn’t go, gets a great rest. All those bruises heal. They chill and they come back to work and they’re fresh as daisies, so that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Someone start a petition requesting the Senators change their marketing campaign and hashtag from #fearless to #freshasdaisies.
On whether he has an in-house successor for Bryan Murray when he moves into the senior advisor position…
“(Laughs) I was wondering who was going to ask me that, but I figured I had at least a year to start that speculation. You see things way in advance, you guys are so forward looking. It’s great. In all seriousness, right now, it’s way too early. Come on, I just gave these guys huge promotions. They are excited. They are motivated. They are hungry. They can’t wait to get to work. They are starting their (scouting) meetings like (in) the next couple of days on the draft. They are going to be looking at what they can pick up for the playoff run. It’s way, way too early. You know Bryan’s got his hands full. Everybody’s just too busy to get near that subject. I think (in) a year or 16 months from now, we’ll start talking about it, thinking about it and we’ll go from there.”
Mark your calendars, May of 2015. Not only could we potentially be worrying about the contract status of Ottawa's veteran offensive forwards, we can add worrying about Bryan Murray's successor to the list as well.