Eugene Melnyk is mad at an Ottawa newspaper

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Outspoken Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk took aim at one of the local newspapers today, submitting a lengthy piece to the Ottawa Citizen, which had tacitly criticized him for an unwillingness to pursue an outdoor game at TD Place Stadium.

“It has been a week since the federal government rendered its decision to not support the outdoor game on Parliament Hill,” Melnyk wrote. “It was a decision, that, while disappointing, involved no shortage of effort made by us to try to make it happen.

“And now, I read Tuesday’s editorial implying that, as the owner of the Ottawa Senators, I should have rushed to endorse a deal to bring the ‘cash cow’ outdoor game to TD Place – and if I don’t, then I am not a ‘smart businessman.’

“And so it seems, rather than applaud our attempts to do something spectacular for Ottawa and our hockey-loving nation, your editors would rather point a finger of blame – squarely on the Senators and me.”

Melnyk may also have been put off by the Citizen’s argument that pursuing Plan B, a game at the city’s CFL stadium, would be “a chance for the Senators to build some goodwill as they negotiate for a new rink downtown, a project that will inevitably require public support.”

Though he didn’t specifically reference that part of the editorial, he did say this:

“Running the Ottawa Senators is not an easy business. Consider the fact that the team is currently eighth overall in the NHL and the second-best performing Canadian team, and yet we are far from sellouts at our home games.”

Related: Melnyk says he won’t sell the Senators ‘at any price’

Indeed, the Senators had an announced crowd of just 14,265 for Sunday’s 2-1 OT victory over the Wild at Canadian Tire Centre. Through nine games, their average attendance is 15,023, the lowest of any Canadian team.

Melnyk finished with a gusto:

“Inevitably, more stories will be written by this paper and other media outlets who would simply like to point blame and accuse me of shortchanging the city for not jumping immediately to commit to another venue for an NHL outdoor game.

“It is unjust, unfair and misrepresents everything that my ownership and the Senators mean to this city.”

/rant

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.