With no less than the future of the franchise at stake, the Ottawa Senators today announced the appointment of Tom Anselmi as the team’s president and CEO.
Anselmi will succeed Cyril Leeder, whom the club said will be stepping down.
Anselmi, most recently the president of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, is an experienced executive, and the Sens have a lot of things to get done in the next few years.
Chief among those things is getting a new arena built on LeBreton Flats
“Tom’s distinguished career in sports and his previous senior executive roles with two other Canadian NHL clubs will be invaluable as we continue our efforts to build an organization that will prepare us for the future and the exciting opportunities which lie ahead,” said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk in a statement.
This morning, Melnyk insisted to reporters that the change had nothing to do with attendance. But the fact remains, Sens attendance has lagged, and Melnyk has made no secret his frustration with the small crowds.
Last night, 16,683 was the announced attendance at Canadian Tire Centre to watch the Sens beat the Washington Capitals, 3-0.
Canadian Tire Centre, which opened in 1996, was built in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, and Melnyk believes its location hurts attendance. Hence, the plan to build a new downtown arena. Hence, the hiring of Anselmi to oversee that plan.