Team owner Eugene Melnyk sees a very bright future for the Ottawa Senators, despite a very tumultuous 2017-18 campaign.
In a video posted to the team’s official Twitter and Facebook pages Monday night, Melnyk outlined his vision for the Senators for this season and beyond, while strangely being interviewed by veteran Senators defenceman Mark Borowiecki.
Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:
”I’m not going anywhere”
Among some of the Senators’ lowlights last season was Melnyk, himself, in mid-December threatening he would move the team “if it becomes a disaster.”
Apparently, last season’s dismal showing and subsequent cyber-bullying scandal wasn’t enough of a disaster because Melnyk now says he doesn’t plan on relocating anytime soon.
“Some people were talking in town, ‘Oh, he may move the team.’ Let me tell you something. First things first, I’m gonna stick around here for a long, long time. I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “And No. 2, the franchise is not going anywhere.”
The kids are gonna play
The over-arching theme of Melnyk’s message seemed to be one of hope and optimism, and he believes a youth movement will help the fans accept the direction he wants to push the franchise towards.
“Right now we’re kinda in the dumpster,” said Melnyk. “Everybody says, ‘Ah, they’re not gonna do anything,’ But I don’t believe that. I think that with character in the dressing room and people working very, very hard, we can accomplish more than a lot of people believe.”
“I think this coming year, 10 out of the 22 players are going to be youth,” he continued. “Meaning they’ll either be rookies, or they’ve played under 10 games last year. And then the following year it’s gonna go up to about 15 of the 22 – maybe 16. So that’s a total turnover, which is what exactly it should be in a rebuild.
“So you get excited,” Melnyk said, pointing to Borowiecki, “because they’re excited, which gets me excited, gets all our fans excited, and our sponsors.”
No mention of Karlsson
Strangely omitted in this clip was any mention of Erik Karlsson, the Senators’ superstar defenceman who has had rumours swirling around him since the trade deadline last season.
Though he didn’t directly mention the two-time Norris Trophy winner, Melnyk did make comments alluding to a future without Karlsson.
“It’s gonna be important for the team as a group to make sure that everybody gels together. You cry together, you laugh together and you celebrate together. And that’s all part of being a team and not playing as an individual.”
“It’s not about individuals anymore, because you’re not gonna win. One player. Two players, three players in the dressing room are not gonna do it.”
You can see the full video in the tweet near the top of this post.
The Senators will open their season on Oct. 4 at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.