Eugene Melnyk is not happy with his team’s play, and he let the world know it Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, the Ottawa Senators owner put his management, coaches, trainers and players all on notice after watching the Sens tumble out of the playoff race.
“We’re going to have to make changes for next year.
“I’m looking at all of it. It’s right across the board,” said Melnyk, who was made available to speak about the Senators’ 25th anniversary. “There’s nobody safe when you have a year like we just did. No way. The status quo will just get us back [here] again next year.
"This team cannot survive not making the playoffs. We have to do it by guts, we have to do it by hard work, and we can get there. That's what we need to do."
Melnyk said his team is riddled with inconsistent play and should be among the top five or six clubs in the league. Yet the Senators (34-31-8) have slid to 12th place in the Eastern Conference.
"Some days they look like Stanley Cup champs, and then they look like EHL players," he said. "We gotta make some changes, I know that."
Among his criticisms, the owner described the decision to start young goaltender Matt O'Connor in the home opener as "stupid."
When asked if he needed to spend more money to make the club more competitive, Melnyk scoffed.
"That's baloney. Absolute baloney. We throw $68 million U.S. at this. That's our payroll. Let's get that straight. Which puts us way up there. Way over budget," he said.
"You can't just throw money at these things. We all know other teams that throw money at these things for decades, and they've gotten nowhere. So we need to do it a different way, and I think we are."
"One day it's going to all come together, and we'll get the same kind of rush that we got last year," Melnyk said. "Canadian teams aren't in the playoffs — none. We're the best ones. Figure that."
Senators head coach Dave Cameron, who also expected Ottawa to be a playoff team, responded to Melnyk's comments Tuesday morning.
"I'm disappointed too," Cameron said. "That's the owner's prerogative. He pays the bills. He's the man who's put the money on the line. He has a right to make changes. That's solely up to him. If he's going to make changes, he's going to make them."