Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is adamant that he is not selling the franchise after rumours suggesting he was circulated Wednesday.
“I am NOT selling the team — period,” Melnyk wrote in an email Wednesday to Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch. “My kids (had) first call on the franchise long ago.”
The rumours began thanks to a post on LinkedIn titled “WHEELIN’ WEDNESDAY – SENS SOLD?” written by hockey historian and former Ottawa Sun hockey columnist Liam Maguire.
“Everybody has their ‘sources’. I’m no different folks,” Maguire wrote. “I talk to a few people who talk to a few people so take this for what it’s worth which is probably nothing but – word is circulating that Melnyk has given up the pursuit at least to some degree and the Ottawa Senators have been sold and it will be announced earlier as opposed to later. Now, is this in full or in part, don’t know. Is this with any conditions of him having any further involvement in a Lebreton Flats development, don’t know. Also the name that is surfacing on this report as part of a new ownership group is Jeff Hunt.”
Hunt is the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group president of sports.
Maguire equivocated that what he was being told was “probably nothing” but the story — or non-story, according to Melnyk — caused some commotion in Ottawa and Melnyk felt the need to address the speculation.
“Let me set the record straight. I have no idea how a reporter fabricated a fiction about my selling the team,” Melnyk told Garrioch. “These stories pop up out of nowhere probably from someone ‘hearing something’. (The) only thing I can think of is our routine refinancing of our debt involves a financial ‘roadshow’. Virtually every major Canadian, international and American bank have attended one of over 20 presentations in Toronto, Ottawa and New York. This involves accountants, bankers and lawyers. I am not directly involved in this process except for the occasional visit and greetings. Hence, where the sale story must have come from.”
Maguire also felt the need to mention in his post that he wrote about the St. Louis Blues having interest in Wayne Gretzky during the 1995-96 season. Maguire explained that he was laughed at for what he wrote yet two months later The Great One was dealt by the Los Angeles Kings to the Blues.
Melnyk, 58, purchased the Senators franchise in 2003.
“I understand that it may be a slow news month but some of the nonsense is laughable,” Melnyk added. “Let’s concentrate on some of the good things I do decide on — like bringing an outdoor game to Ottawa.”