It was an early November morning in 2001 when my parents unknowingly doomed me to what many people may call an early demise. By being in the wrong place at the wrong time, they had heedlessly played their part in me becoming a Sens fan later on in life.
And maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. So what if there’s technically nothing wrong with them settling down in the city of Ottawa, where they grew up, met, and graduated, to begin a family? But I may as well put the blame on someone since that’s what the Sens have taught me through their organization’s actions!
I didn’t actually start becoming a fan of hockey until I was 14 years old due to my whole family’s lack of interest in sports altogether, but it happened quick and it happened recklessly. I began following the Sens because, to be honest, they were the only team that I got on my TV channels. Simple as that. I’d fallen into the rabbit hole of supporting an organization that in the past had some hockey greats like Alfredsson, Heatley, and young Jason Spezza. And with Karlsson on the team there really was no fear to be had!
Unbeknownst to the naïve, young girl that I was, the negative attention that the Sens have gotten this past season has proved to me the mistake I made in supporting a team that was solely meant to disappoint me. And I guess that’s really what this whole post is about; How the Sens have ruined both me (a Sens fan) and their organization.
I should start with the organization itself. Or, more specifically, who owns it. In the eyes of the fans of the Ottawa Senators, I think it’s safe to say I speak on behalf of all when I say that Eugene Melnyk is the closest thing we have to the devil himself. The way he runs the organizations orbits around one thing only, the money he’s putting into his wallet. In my personal opinion though, the absolute worst part about him, even including his lack of knowledge on how to run a successful business, is how he treats the fans. Melnyk’s horrible reputation with fans of the Sens comes from the long line of petty and just plain stupid things he says and does.
For example, this man thought that it would be best to announce at a public press conference, right before the puck drop of our Parliament Hill outdoor game and in front of many local Sens fans, that he would rather move the team to another location rather than sell it to someone who is more capable of running a sports organization. Threatening fans to move their team if they don’t buy tickets is never good, but this was definitely not the time nor the place to do this fucked up thirst trap marketing scheme, Eugene!!!
I think that was the tipping point for fans, with the #melnykout campaign starting soon after. This was possibly one of the best things that this fanbase has ever carried out. The dedication and seriousness of this project was seen through the actual billboards fans rented out to make their message clear. Along with these billboards, there was a website created, livestreams, and Go Fund Me pages all set up at an attempt to get Melnyk to either educate himself on how to rebuild a franchise or to pass the torch onto someone who can.
Another inconceivable (read as: conceivable) and very surprising (read as: not surprising at all) thing that Melnyk was rumoured to be involved with was the creation of fake accounts to defend himself and the organization against the NHL fanbase and media. This is a grown, old man … hiring someone to create fake social media accounts to try to seem cool. It’s understandable now that fans literally cannot take anything he does or says seriously anymore, right? Like, who does this? Who deems it necessary to create fake accounts, with stock profile pictures easily found on Google, of girls living in the most remote places on planet earth, where hockey is most likely not watched, to defend themselves against internet trolls? How desperate do you have to be?
You can find the answers to all of those questions in the being of Eugene Melnyk, I guess. Of course he hasn’t confirmed or denied any of these rumours, but the overwhelming proof news platforms have pulled up on this issue and the decision to ban an insider to the Ottawa Citizen, the magazine that leaked this story, on the team’s charter flights seems to be sending a message.
There are many other things that have altered the Sens organization and how it is viewed by NHL fans, but I’m just going to skip over a few like the altercation between Karlsson and Hoffman because what is meant to remain private is meant to remain private. The thing I will touch on though is the Uber video that was already addressed by players in the organization. This was a breach of privacy on the players in the video, and their genuine responses speak to the characters they are. The incident was unnecessary to be revealed to the public but, in my opinion, it strengthened the team overall.
It’s genuinely good to be able to relate to your coworkers, and that’s pretty much all the video was showing. If that many players agreed that there was something that needed to be changed about the assistant coach’s way of coaching then there must have truly been an issue with it. Of course it could’ve been handled in a more private way that was not released to media, but being able to bond over something is important in a career that relies heavily on group chemistry.
Some fans believe that Chris Wideman was traded solely because of his front and centre participation in the video and that this was a way for the front office to send a message to players, but there were many other factors in the trade as well. Wideman needed to be traded so we could have enough space to call up other defensemen, such as Christian Wolanin, and Wideman had been healthy scratched multiple games due to underperformance.
The last thing plaguing the Sens recently in the media is the move of the arena to downtown Ottawa. Right now the arena is located about 30 minutes outside of the downtown area, making it difficult for downtown residents to get to games, especially during rush hour. Of course Melnyk had to make this situation as dramatic as possible because he wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t. At first, they wanted the government to pay for the building of the new arena, but they refused to. Then ,after a whole bunch of business meetings or whatever, Melnyk decided, fine, we’ll pay for it.
But, the person owning LeBreton Flats, where the new arena was planned to be built, apparently has some beef with Melnyk. I don’t blame him, because I know from experience that Melnyk is completely capable of making people have problems with him very quickly. And now Melnyk is suing the company $700-million because as mentioned earlier, all he cares about is the money in his pocket. Basically the only way the arena can make the move downtown is if the squabble between the two gets resolved within the next meeting they have. Even the mayor of Ottawa is getting sick and tired of Melnyk’s attitude problems and petty grudges, though he didn’t say exactly these such words to the public, but instead said something more professional but still along the lines of “grow the fuck up”.
Anyways, as you can probably piece together, the Ottawa Senators organization is in shambles and it can mostly all be attributed to the owner. As a Sens fan, the drama surrounding this organization is absolute hell and I would not wish this upon anyone. I don’t know what it is about some old white men and their unwavering capability to ruin everything they touch, but Eugene Melnyk has definitely got some fixing to do if he wants this organization to be as successful as it once was while sticking with his refusal to sell it to another owner. All I can hope for now is that the Sens somehow find a way to keep out of the press in a negative light for the rest of the season. We’re taking it day by day up here, and to any other Sens fan reading this, power on soldier.