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.”
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.”