With the start of the NHL season about three weeks away, most hockey fans are gearing up for the upcoming campaign and counting down to puck drop. It’s unlikely supporters of the Ottawa Senators are approaching this year with the same gusto.
The Senators finished 30th in the league last season with a record of 28-43-11, season ticket sales haven’t been encouraging and their captain Erik Karlsson seemingly wants nothing to do with the franchise following off-ice controversy involving his wife Melinda, former Senators winger Mike Hoffman and his fiancée, Monika Caryk (amongst other things).
One person’s spirit that hasn’t been broken, however, is Senators owner Eugene Melnyk
“You get excited because they’re excited, which gets me excited, which gets all of our fans excited,” he told Mark Borowiecki while chatting about new players joining the team in a video interview released by the Senators’ official Twitter account late Monday night.
If you think the game between the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football was entertaining, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The Ottawa Senators are proud to share the vision for the future of our team and this organization. We are about to launch an exciting plan to rebuild our team and we are inviting you to be a part of our rise to new heights. #OttawaRising pic.twitter.com/hok2jYCUVi
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) September 11, 2018
The six-minute piece features Melnyk and Borowiecki sitting on black leather chairs with Senators memorabilia in the background. The set and feel is very “Between Two Ferns,” but the ferns have been replaced with nothing. That’s not even the best part of the look, though.
Despite the fact Adidas became the official jersey supplier of the NHL before the 2017-18 season, Melnyk is rocking a Reebok sweater.
They don’t come cheap.
The conversation between boss and employee is uncomfortable at times but does cover a lot of ground. One of the first topics discussed was Melnyk’s future with the franchise.
“Some people were talking in town that, ‘oh, he may move the team,’” said Melnyk. “Let me tell you something, first thing’s first, I’m gonna stick around here for a long, long time. I’m not going anywhere. And No. 2, the franchise is not going anywhere. That’s totally solid.”
Easy there, Eugene. These “people” weren’t just talking for the sake of a good chin-wag. These conversations were happening because you started them. With the eyes of the hockey world watching his team ahead of the NHL100 Classic against the Montreal Canadiens last December, he mentioned that he was considering moving the team during his media availability. Then, at the end of June, reports surfaced that he was thinking about selling the Senators.
With Melnyk making it clear he wants to keep the team and is invested in its future (for now), the discussion shifted to how they plan on getting back on track.
“This coming year … 10 of the 22 players are going to be new,” he said. “And then the following year, it’s going to go up (to) about 15 of the 22, maybe 16. That’s a total turnover which is exactly what should be in a rebuild.”
First of all, that’s an interesting conversation to have with a 29-year-old stay-at-home blueliner who’s going to become an unrestricted free agent following 2019-20. Speaking so candidly about the future with a player who might not be a part of it aside, Melnyk isn’t wrong.
The Senators have a number of young, thrilling prospects that have the opportunity to make a difference in the coming years. Brady Tkachuk, the fourth overall pick for the 2018 draft, has been living up to the hype surrounding him and scoring consistently in Ottawa’s rookie camp. Canadian World Junior teammates Drake Batherson and Alex Formenton have been doing the same.
Missed the #Sens rookie tournament win this weekend? No problem.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) September 10, 2018
Logan Brown, the Sens’ first-round pick in 2016, also has a real shot of making the team this season while Thomas Chabot’s offensive instincts may help fill some of the void that will come if Karlsson does end up being dealt. If only they had their first-round pick this year, which certainly would have been a boon to Melnyk’s cause.
As strange as this video is, it is encouraging that things appear to be a little more stable in Canada’s capital. Melnyk appears to be committed and the franchise has a plan in place to become competitive once again.
Melnyk doubled down on his talking points from the video Tuesday morning when a letter to the fans was printed in the Ottawa Sun.
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) September 11, 2018
It looks like this is just the beginning for Ottawa and, hopefully, this can be the start of a regular series on Twitter. Sign me up for monthly interviews/updates with Melnyk and other Senators. How about Craig Andersen talking about team drama in October? Or Marian Gaborik begging to not be bought out during the All-Star break?
Yup, the Sens are definitely on to something here.
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