'We're going to have a great season'
Melnyk convinced Sens have 'everything we need' to succeed
"I think we're going to have a great season," Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said before taking in Ottawa's home-opener against the New York Islanders at Scotiabank Place. "I'm not just being optimistic. I've seen what's happened (so far). I was at the Leaf game (a 2-1 Senators victory in Toronto on Tuesday night) with Bryan (Murray, the Sens' general manager) and we kind of picked apart the team and what we have.
"We pretty much have everything we need. All we need now is for everybody to play up to their potential. If that happens, we'll be as competitive as any team in the league and I really believe that. It's not hype, it's reality ... We've got grit, we've got the attitude now. You look at the veterans who have been here for some time now. If they all play to their potential, we're there."
While fans haven't quite warmed up to the team yet — the home-opener was attended by 18,075, not quite a sellout — Melnyk understands their cautious attitude. But he believes it won't take long for the fans to share his level of optimism about the team.
"You're coming off a season where you had distractions," he said. "We had distractions during the summer ... We didn't make the playoffs. So everybody sits back. But I really think it'll take just a few games for people to see this is the real deal and I think it is.
Melnyk also acknowledged that Murray was handcuffed through the summer by the trade demand of Dany Heatley, who was finally shipped to the San Jose Sharks last month for a package that included forwards Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo.
"It just shows you how experience at the hockey management level really comes through, because anybody less than a Bryan Murray couldn't have pulled off a deal handcuffed the way he was," said Melnyk. "To be able to bring in the quality players that he did under those circumstances ... hat's off to him and I congratulated him."
"At the end of the day, we made the best of a situation that was very, very difficult."
After visiting the Senators dressing room before the game, Melnyk came away with a good feeling about the quality of the team that is wearing the red, white and black this season.
"You can see the attitude of these players," he said. "It's a show-me attitude. Once we put some points up in the standings after half a dozen games, people will all of a sudden realize that you know what, we're a real team now and we really are a great team."