Thursday News and Notes: Melnyk Sells Horses, Dreger Comments on Spezza Situation, Mendes Kills It

Lost in all of yesterday’s news that concerned general manager Bryan Murray publicly revealing Jason Spezza’s request for a trade was that Senators owner Eugene Melnyk released a statement indicating that he was retiring from the horse racing industry.

From the press release:

Eugene Melnyk, one of North America’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners, today officially announced his retirement from the sport of horse racing. One of Melnyk’s final acts to close out his impressive 20 year career in the sport of horse racing will see his racing and breeding stock dispersed at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Sale taking place on July 14, 2014.

“As a young boy who grew up watching and admiring the horses at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, it still remains very overwhelming to know how privileged and fortunate I have been to be part of such a wonderful and close knit community of people who share my passion for horses and the sport of horse racing. None of my horse racing achievements would have been possible without my staff at Winding Oaks Farm and Melnyk Racing Stables who all know how deeply grateful I am for their dedication and commitment to our horses,” said Eugene Melnyk. “While I will always remain a part of horse racing, I feel I have accomplished all that I set out to and now is a good time to step back from the sport. I came into this sport twenty years ago with plenty of dreams and I leave with a lifetime of memories.”

So for those of you keeping score, Melnyk has sold his junior hockey team and will sell his thoroughbred horses.

Looking at the Senators’ situation in which they will reap the benefits of the new regional broadcast agreement with Bell Media and the NHL’s new Canadian national broadcast agreement with Rogers Media, the Senators have maximized some of their most substantial revenue streams. Coupled with the team’s low payroll and the franchise value that has appreciated since Melnyk bought the club, I can’t help but wonder whether the time for Melnyk to sell the Senators or at least some stake in the organization is drawing near.

More Dreger on Spezza

In an appearance on TSN 1050‘s ‘Leafs Breakfast’ this morning, Darren Dreger commented on Bryan Murray’s comments yesterday to the media about Jason Spezza’s trade request.

“Yeah, well the only reason this is news is because Bryan Murray finally substantiated it yesterday. We’ve talked about it for what, several weeks now? It’s not a news flash that Jason Spezza is in play. He’s been in play for quite some time. The rate of return is going to be tricky. Bryan Murray is going to want to maximize his level of return. He wants something similar to what he had to give up to acquire Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks. There are (general managers) who in the last couple of days have told me that Murray isn’t going to get that. He might get a late first round pick and a decent prospect or a mid-first round pick and maybe a player or a lesser quality prospect and that might not be good enough because of the market. Now all of a sudden Jason Spezza, who probably would have been a target of the Anaheim Ducks as an example, has competition because we know Ryan Kesler is in play, we know that Joe Thornton potentially is in play and (Paul) Statsny is a free agent and on and on it goes. This is going to be a tough transaction for the Ottawa Senators, but what I know is that you’ve got both sides who want it dealt with in an amicable fashion. This could be a win-win whereby the team gets the right package for Jason Spezza and he gets a fresh start.”

Senators Want to Keep One UFA… Milan Michalek

As one of my friends joked, “Are they intending on bringing him back as a coach?”

I can’t fathom a scenario in which they give Milan Michael any kind of term on a new deal. Not with his knee problems and not without him proving to be largely ineffective during his time with the Senators while he’s played away from Jason Spezza.

As I mentioned offhand in a blog post a few days ago, depending on what kind of salary Michalek’s looking for, it’s probably not a great idea to bring him back when the team is trying to move Spezza.

Via HockeyAnalysis.com, here are Michalek’s numbers with and without Spezza on the ice at even strength:

When on ice Together
TOI GF20 GA20 GF% CF20 CA20 CF%
4160:43 0.856 1.000 46.1 19.76 18.93 51.1
2453:50 0.962 1.092 46.8 20.61 19.07 51.9
MICHALEK when apart
TOI GF20 GA20 GF% CF20 CA20 CF%
1706:53 0.703 0.867 44.8 18.52 18.74 49.7
SPEZZA when apart
TOI GF20 GA20 GF% CF20 CA20 CF%
1514:21 1.057 0.845 55.6 19.9 18.83 51.4

The numbers clearly reflect a player who’s on-ice numbers, whether it is his goal production or puck possession rates, are positively impacted or propped up by having Spezza play on his line.

Making matters worse, Michalek’s 29 years of age and given his medical history, it’s easy to believe that his best days are behind him. According to Behindthenet.ca’s numbers, Michalek’s goals per 60 minutes of ice time (0.67) in 2013/14 was the lowest of his career since BTN started capturing that data.

Without Spezza, it’s hard to believe the Senators will be getting a bargain here and if Michalek can’t produce in a top six capacity, you can add him to the litany of bottom six forwards that the Senators already have on the parent roster that help box in some of the Senators’ prospects (and cheaper alternatives) in Binghamton.

Depending on the associated costs, Senators fans may rue the day Ottawa signs Michalek.

Mendes Article

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading Ian Mendes’ latest blog on TSN.ca that outlines the erosion of Spezza’s relationship with the organization and why the Senators and Spezza were inevitably going to split apart. It’s an incredibly worthwhile read and why are you still reading this? Check it out, now!

Play-by-play Announcement

It’s not Senators-related, but I just wanted to congratulate AJ Jakubec on the announcement of being named the official voice of the Ottawa REDBLACKS on TSN 1200.

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