Eugene Melnyk ahead of the 2013-14 season
Today was a festive one in the realm of Ottawa Senators hockey and the city of Ottawa as the Sens — led by owner Eugene Melnyk — opened up the "Sens Mile" in downtown Ottawa on Elgin St. At the event, Mr. Melnyk unveiled the Sens new "Fearless" campaign and presented a Sens jersey to a pair of local first responders
After his address, he met with some local media to discuss the season ahead for the hockey club as well as various issues surrounding the franchise.
Here's what he had to say...
On his expectations for 2013-14:
Well I think this time of year they're always very high. I'm very, very excited. I've seen all the games this week, I've seen all the young kids and the talent that we have, the depth that we have, the package is there, you just don't want to jinx them into believing that we're going to be a winner. You have to work every night, you have to work hard, stay away from injuries if we can and I think we're going to be pretty good.
On how far they can go:
That's a very loaded question for a guy like me right now, but I'm hoping we can go deep. I think we have the talent but again, let them do their stuff, let them show up and you can ask me again right after the Christmas break. I think at that point we'll have a great idea of how all the lines will gel, who's hot, who's not and as management we'll do what we can to get us deep as we can into the playoffs.
On if the budget will change for potential rental players:
We're already are over budget, I just found out yesterday, but as I said we'll do whatever it takes. We've got to be smart about it, I'm not a big fan of rentals, but if we need to fill a spot I'll leave that to Bryan (Murray) to come back and say this could make a big difference for us, especially if we need to fill a spot so that's not beyond the realm of reality that we have to live with. As things stand now we have so much depth in our organization, down in Bingo and even guys we're sending back to junior, one of our good problems is we have so many good, young players. It's tough, I was at yesterday's game and the game before and guys that you thought just weren't going to cut it all of a sudden are stepping up and it's unbelievable what's going on. I just don't know at this point.
On the casino deal and his involvement with the club:
Well, you know what I've decided to keep quiet about it for about a month, but no, my involvement remains — I'm a natural hockey fan, this is not a business but you have to treat it like a business because otherwise you're not going to have a business and you're not going to have a team. There was no plan C and we're now regrouping to see what we might be able to still do with the city's cooperation and at this point we're hoping for the best, but as far as the organization is concerned, again, the idea of moving the team is not a reality. It's not going to happen, but what is going to happen is if the salary cap is going to increase — I know it, it's just going to happen, the revenues of the league are going very, very well, they've fixed all the problem franchises and now people are spending to the cap. We spent to the cap two years in a row and didn't make the playoffs so I'm not a big fan of spending because you've just got to spend, but we need cooperation and help, it's as simple as that, because we're being outspent by everyone else and to be competitive you have to be at least in the top half of spenders. That's a stat, it's not just something I've made up, you have to be in the top half — we are — if you're not you don't have much of a chance, it's just not going to happen.
On if the team is in jeopardy:
No, if you recall 10 years ago I was the only guy standing, there was no one else. People say "Oh you could get an equity buyer" or you could do this, I don't see anybody, I don't get any phone calls. Those people don't exist, but the best thing to do is you have to turn it around and just work the problem. That's what we've got to do we've got to work the problem and without — this is a price sensitive market and we need to be able to compete and we're doing everything we can to do that. But no, there's no jeopardy there.
On if Daniel Alfredsson will be celebrated later on:
Eventually, sure. Look, Daniel had his own reasons for what he did and you know, we're moving on. The players that I've seen come and gone in my last 10 years — now, he's a special player, he's been with the franchise for so long. He did a lot for the community, he did a lot for the team and Detroit I guess is his last hurrah but after that I think he'll be recognized appropriately when he comes back to Ottawa, if he comes back to Ottawa or not. But I think he will at least be recognized.
On if something will be in Ottawa for him after retirement:
It's kind of tough when somebody moves down the road you know, it's like a girlfriend leaving you or something, but I don't know. Things change all the time, whoever thought he'd leave? You just never know.
On the franchise's relationship with City Hall:
Right now we're considering a lot of things and we're trying to work the problem with the city and I'm hoping that we can, but all of our options are open right now. I want to get the season started, I want to get to hockey for now, there's time to get things rolling. Things kind of move a little slowly at all levels of government so I don't think we're in a real hurry but we've got to move on knowing where we are so I basically have to leave it for now. Just let a month go by before we do anything.
On if the mayor was invited to today's festivities:
I don't know, this is my first time doing it so at this point I think he had other things that occupied. That's all I heard, I don't know, I don't deal with the invitations or non-invitations.
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