Report: Former Sens executive sues owner Eugene Melnyk, alleging ‘abusive’ behavior

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Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is back in the news again — although this time, it has nothing to do with a feud involving Sidney Crosby.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, a former team executive by the name of Peter O’Leary has recently sued the club and Melnyk for $1.55 million. Per the report, the lawsuit alleges abusive behavior from Melnyk to club executives during a particularly difficult time for ticket sales in 2016.

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O’Leary’s 23-page claim provides a rare glimpse insides the Senators’ front office dynamics, revealing not only dysfunction but also alleged abusive behaviour by Melnyk.

Specifically, the claim alleges Melnyk “at times used profanity and levelled insults at executive team members, including constantly calling into question their competency. Mr. Melnyk sent abusive emails to the executive team and frequently threatened to dismiss them.”

O’Leary was hired on Aug. 21, 2014 to be the Senators’ chief marketing officer and vice-president of ticketing and was fired by Melnyk on Dec. 12, 2016, according to O’Leary’s statement of claim.

Melnyk and his Capital Sports holdings group, represented by Toronto lawyer Laurie Jessome, have filed a notice to defend. Contacted by the Citizen on Thursday, Melnyk said via email, “We believe it is inappropriate to comment on litigation before the courts.”

Melnyk purchased the Senators in 2003.

On numerous occasions dating back several years, he has denied the club is for sale (2012 and 2016), however there have been reports he has also absorbed financial losses of more than $100 million since he became the owner.

Last year, prior to the end of the regular season, Melnyk directed some strong public criticism toward then head coach Dave Cameron, who was fired once the regular season ended.

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.