Melnyk Speaks – “We’re definitely not sellers”

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was interviewed yesterday as part of Hockey Night in Canada's pregame build up to yesterday's Heritage Classic. I embedded the entire pregame show at the top of this post, so if you want to skip to the Melnyk portion of the broadcast, his interview begins at approximately the 23:00 mark.

For those who don't have the luxury of being able to watch the video, I transcribed what Melnyk said below. 

As always, my thoughts are in bold.

On the rumours that the Senators want to do a Heritage Classic game of their own…

“We’re shooting for it and we’re hoping for it and I think it would be great for our fan base and great for Canada. It’s the nation’s capital so there’s no better place to do it in say 2017 when we have our 150th anniversary for Canada and it’s the 100th anniversary for the NHL, but we’re going to see and we’re talking to the league and we’re working through it. We’re really hoping that it happens. It’d be great.”

Rumours of the Senators bringing a Heritage Classic game to Ottawa date back to December of 2012 when there was a report in the Ottawa Business Journal that indicated the City of Ottawa would be throwing its support behind the team as it attempts to bring an outdoor game to Lansdowne Park.

From the report:

The idea is to have the Senators face off against the Montreal Canadiens, according to Ottawa Marriott general manager Daniel Laliberté, a member of the committee helping plan the city’s offerings for 2017.

Mayor Watson has had an outdoor game to Ottawa on his "to-do list' since 2010, and tweeted the following during the leadup to Ottawa's All-Star Game:

Just chatted with NHL's Gary Bettman and said it's time for Ottawa to get the outdoor classic! He said when you get a new stadium, it's coming. 

When Ottawa gets an outdoor game, I'm going.

On the number of NHL games that are being played outdoors and whether the league should continue playing them at the rate that they are…

“I think they should. It’s a big draw, especially to the city hosting it. I don’t think anybody is ever going to get tired of these kind of events. If you do them and spread them out over a couple of years – three years or every fourth year – I mean, it’s a huge draw. We’re going to have over 50,000 people here today, that’s a big, big draw; especially in the middle of winter when everybody is kind of thinking snow, cold and it’s really a great, great afternoon. A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.”

The Senators really need to employ a staffer to point out the team's record in afternoon games each time Melnyk shares excitement over playing one.

On whether the Senators are buyers or sellers at the deadline…

“I think that first of all, I leave all those decisions to Bryan Murray – that’s why he’s paid the big bucks. I hope he’s listening to this, but the main thing is that we’re easily considered a buyer if the opportunity arises. But we’ve got to be smart because things can get very, very silly – people overpay and everybody goes nuts. You’ve just got to be very focused. You have to be extremely disciplined in what you’re doing at what price and what that’s going to return. We’re definitely not sellers. We are definite buyers if the opportunity arises.”

Per Sportsclubstats.com, there is an 79.5-percent chance that the Senators will not make the postseason. I can't believe that the Senators actually think they have a legitimate shot at reaching the postseason. I mean, I think there's a rational argument to be made that the Senators could flip assets for players who can help the team now and down the road, but why limit your market to teams that have already fallen out of the playoff picture? IWhy not wait until the summer when the market expands and more teams will be looking to shake things up?

For me, it doesn't make sense not to consider selling its expendable veterans. It's extremely puzzling because this is same owner and management group who had a great deal of success doing the same bloody thing at the 2011 trade deadline.

Before Melnyk's interview, Elliotte Friedman said this about the Senators at the top of the pregame show: 

“Ottawa I’m not as certain if they understand where they are right now in their development. They’ve got two games to go before the trade deadline. I think this one and possibly the game in Edmonton on Tuesday night Ron, could lead to a lot of decisions about what they decide to do on Wednesday.”

I'm sure fans feel the same way – not knowing with any certainty what the organization's plan is. 

On whether he supports the NHL returning the next Olympics in 2018…

“Well, I’ve never… just recently… you know, I’ve always been kind of on the fence because I’ve got 29 other ownerships out there that have views. As a patriot, knowing that we are double gold medalists, it’s tough for me to be against it, but on the other hand, I’ve been burned before with one of our goalies. It was one of the years that we could have won the Stanley Cup and (Dominik) Hasek got hurt. He was playing for another country, so you know what, I’m torn between two lovers. On the one hand, you want to be in it because you know you can have the best team. On the other hand, are you prepared to risk your players in the middle of the season to potentially get hurt or injured? It’s a tough, tough, tough call and I think there’s going to be a lot of discussion, a lot of heated discussion, at the next Governor’s meeting.”

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