Monday Thoughts and News: Melnyk, Brassard and Maidens, Sens Summer Fan Fest

Much like his Ottawa Senators, Eugene Melnyk just can’t win these days.

After denouncing Russia and telling FIFA to get the World Cup out of Russia, Senators fans simply want their favorite team’s owner to get out of the news.

Since saving the Senators from bankruptcy in 2003, Melnyk has never been shy about stepping in front a television camera or a microphone and speaking his mind.

In fact, on my desktop sits a Word document that exceeds almost 4,000 words and chronicles many outrageous Eugene Melnyk sound bites, like:

  • In January, 2009, Melnyk encouraged Sens fans wanted the organization to bite the bullet and rebuild to “get their own bomb and go blow themselves up.”
  • In March of 2013, Melnyk talked about how he once knew an individual who participated in African cage fighting to the death.
  • During that same interview in March, he even played up the acquisition of Matt Kassian stating that “I’ve seen people go into the corner, they see him coming and they leave the puck behind and go away.”

In the beginning, the brashness and outspoken candour was a stark change from the Rod Bryden days when the Senators lacked the bravado. If Melnyk could shoot his mouth off and back it up by hosting a free Eagles concert or investing heavily into scouting, player development and the player payroll, fans could tolerate Melnyk or be humoured by the unintentional comedy of his ways.

Now 12 years later, the Senators are fielding a roster comprised of players who account for one of the league’s five smallest payrolls.

Deserved or not, Melnyk has and will continue to bear the brunt of the criticism for the Senators’ tight-fisted approach to spending money to improve the team’s on-ice product. (Mind you, it’s not like the organization is doing themselves any favours by repeatedly letting fans know that if the situation is right, they will spend money down the road.)

It’s to the point where he is an easy target for resentment.

In this particular instance, at least here in Ottawa, it overshadows Melnyk’s worthwhile cause and for that, he has no one but himself to blame.

As the Chairman of the Campaign Advisory Committee for United with Ukraine, Melnyk and give the 2018 World Cup to a more deserving nation.

From his press release:

“Major international sporting events such as the Olympics or FIFA’s World Cup serve as powerful forces of global unity and peace, not conflict and war. To allow Russia to host the World Cup would fundamentally undermine the spirit of international sport and the stated core principles of every corporate sponsor who has chosen to align itself with such an irresponsible decision.

“We are asking FIFA’s major partners to take a firm principled stand and demand FIFA immediately re-assign the 2018 World Cup to a more deserving nation.”

Francois Brassard & Jarrod Maidens Re-enter Draft

After being unable to come to terms on entry-level contracts with the Senators, both Francois Brassard (6th round, 166th overall in 2012) and Jarrod Maidens (3rd round, 82nd overall in 2012) will re-enter the 2014 NHL Draft.

Last April, it was reported that the Senators were shopping Brassard’s rights.

Senators are trying to trade the rights of G François Brassard. If they can’t, Brassard will be available for the June draft in Philly.

— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) April 4, 2014

Although it would have been preferable to move Brassard for a tangible future, if there is a silver lining to their inability to trade him, it is that management can point to their influx of young goaltenders like Robin Lehner, Chris Driedger, Marcus Hogberg and Andrew Hammond and say that there simply was not enough room for Brassard to get the playing time necessary to develop.

There is also the matter of the finite number of professional contracts that the Senators can dole out, so with their goaltending depth, maybe the Senators felt that ELC could be used more efficiently.

Brassard’s hardly a victim in all of this though. It is entirely possible that he looked at the Senators’ depth and did not see a lot of opportunity for himself either. Based on the strength of his junior numbers, he should be able to latch on with another team that lacks Ottawa’s depth at the position, he should receive the opportunity to catch on, play professionally and take the next step towards fulfilling his dream of playing in the NHL.

Maidens’ story is gloomier.

Projected to be a first or second round talent in his 2012 draft year, Maidens suffered a concussion after incidentally being kneed to the head in a game on November 30, 2011.

He has not played in a game since.

Included on Ottawa’s rookie camp roster last summer, there was hope that Maidens’ recovery had taken a turn for the better and improved to the point where he could step on the ice and play in a game. Unfortunately, Maidens suffered a setback and his concussion symptoms returned.

In professional sports fandom, sometimes it’s easy to forget that players are human beings instead of as marketable business-like commodities. Rather than bemoan the loss of a once-ballyhooed prospect that the organization took a calculated risk on or wonder about whether the Senators, or another team, will gamble on Maidens in 2014, people should be concerned more about the prospect’s health first.

Ottawa Senators’ Cap Situation

Capgeek has archived the 2013/14 season and rolled out their 2014/15 page.

According to their numbers, the Senators have 19 players already under contract on their projected roster for a total cap hit of approximately $50.4 million. Only the Washington Capitals have more players under contract on their projected roster.

By dividing up the remaining cap space by the number of openings, Capgeek projects Ottawa to have the third highest average number of cap dollars available ($5.17M) to spend on their roster openings – you know, if the Senators actually had the means or the willingness to open up the purse strings and spend money on their payroll.

Of course, the Senators have a lot of moving parts on their roster, so depending on what happens with some of their impending 2015 UFAs like Spezza, Ryan, Methot, Anderson and MacArthur, Ottawa’s payroll could stand to drop a little further.

Sigh.

Sens Summer Fan Fest

For those who may not have seen the news floating around Twitter, a Senators Summer Fan Fest has been organized by PhotoShop guru Kevin Lee (@BringBackLee).

Inspired by similar hockey fan fests that have occurred in other NHL cities like Columbus, the Senators Summer Fan Fest will take place on Sunday, August 17th from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at MacLaren‘s on Elgin Street.

The event will be highlighted by raffles, contests and some hockey discussion panels that will feature mainstream types like Brent Wallace, James Gordon and Ian Mendes. These panels may even include yours truly and other notable bloggers from around the Senators’ corner of the interwebs.

This blog has been around for some time now and I’ve never really met too (m)any of my readers, so if you’re interested in meeting up, have a beer and talk some Senators hockey, come. It should make for a really fun afternoon.

Tickets must be bought in advance of the event and they run $25 each. The cost of the ticket includes food, pool table rental costs, a raffle ticket as well as a donation to The Ottawa Senators Foundation.

Space is limited, so purchase tickets as soon as you can.

Anyone looking for more information can visit the event’s website or by contacting Kevin via Twitter (@BringBackLee).

 

 

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