Eugene Melnyk

“Any idiot” can spend to the cap, says Sens owner


Yesterday Senators owner Eugene Melnyk told the Ottawa Citizen he expected the club to break even, if not turn a profit, for the first time in a long time.

The key to the club’s financial turnaround was two-fold.

First, it cut salary.

Second, it won anyway.

Sort of like the Calgary Flames, except totally the opposite.

As it stands, the Senators are poised to make the playoffs with one of the lowest payrolls in the NHL.

“You can spend to the cap — it’s very easy. Any idiot can do that,” he said.

Melnyk would know. The Senators were essentially a cap team in 2009-10 when they lost in the first round, and payroll was similar last season when they missed the playoffs.

“The really elite teams are the ones that can (put in) elite management and elite coaching, that can put a competitive team on the ice year-after-year, and not have to buy that team,” he said.

However, the Sens aren’t an elite team yet, argues the Citizen’s Wayne Scanlan.

Ask yourself this question. Which team would you feel more comfortable chasing Stanley with this spring – the $64-million Pittsburgh Penguins, the $64-million Vancouver Canucks or the $51-million Senators?

Hey, the Senators could surprise some people — again — and do a bit of playoff damage. If they do, good luck wiping the smile off Melnyk’s face all summer long.

Realistically, it’s unspeakably tough to play giant-slayer four rounds in a row.

Scanlan references the “Moneyball” Oakland A’s who made the MLB playoffs with a rock-bottom payroll but never really threatened to win the World Series.

So, will Melnyk open his wallet when the time is right to put Ottawa over the top? Will he make the financial commitment to keep homegrown talent when free agency looms? Those are the questions Sens fans could be asking soon. Because you can cut salary — it’s very easy. Any idiot can do that.

Avs unveil new third jerseys

Avs Jerseys

The Avalanche will be throwing a bunch of different looks at us this season.

Having already released specialized “Mile High” jerseys for February’s Stadium Series game, the Avs unveiled new third sweaters on Friday — less than 24 hours after a bitter 5-4 home loss to Minnesota in their season opener.

(Guess Colorado wanted to send out some good vibes after blowing a 4-1 third-period lead.)

While undoubtedly exciting for the organization, the release of these new thirds isn’t taking anybody by surprise. Last month, several websites published leaked images of Colorado’s and Anaheim’s third jerseys, so the design has been in the public eye for several weeks.

The Avs will debut these new thirds on Oct. 24, in a Saturday night tilt against Columbus.

Related: Roy explains why he didn’t call time out

Report: Escrow set at 16 percent

Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr
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Hey, remember in June when the NHLPA voted to keep the five-percent growth factor in spite of increasing worries about escrow?

Well, here’s why that decision was a significant one, via TSN’s Frank Seravalli:

With early revenue projections in place, the NHL and NHLPA set the escrow withholding rate for players at 16 per cent for the first quarter of the season on Thursday.

That means every player will have 16 per cent of earnings deducted from their paycheque and put aside until after all of this season’s hockey-related revenue is counted to ensure a perfect 50-50 revenue split with owners.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the players will definitely lose 16 percent of their salaries. Typically, they receive refunds when all the accounting is done.

Still, 16 percent is a good-sized chunk to withhold. They won’t be thrilled about it.

Related: To understand escrow, consider Duncan Keith