An Open Letter To Ottawa Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk


Dear Eugene,

You blew it. Even if the rumored personal financial difficulties troubles that are currently constraining you are (despite your statements to the contrary) true, there is no way you should have let this happen.

Perhaps you undervalued the contribution your Captain has made to the City of Ottawa, or perhaps you were arrogant enough to think that you are bigger than the City.  At a time when you are looking to the citizens of the City of Ottawa for support in your battle with City Hall over a Casino to generate revenue for your business entity (at least that is how I perceive it), you allow arguably the most beloved figure in my lifetime in Ottawa to walk away is a serious misjudgement on your behalf.

May 14, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Ottawa Senators right wing Daniel Alfredsson (11) handles the puck as Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) chases during the first period in game one of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There is business decisions and then there are no-brainers.  The events of the last week are shocking, that there would be a balk on your behalf at any request Daniel Alfredsson made.  You needed to write that cheque, no questions asked.  The biggest reason for the income you have generated for your business over the past 10 years of your ownership has been built largely (although not solely) on the back of #11 and the love affair that has blossomed over the past few years.  There might be a reason why every period of every home game this season there was a chant of “Alfie, Alfie, Alfie”.  It wasn’t because of you, it was because of the character and respect that Daniel Alfredsson had built with the fan base that began long before you were in the picture.

I fully understand that this was a business decision and you obviously felt that you could get away with it on the cheap.  that idea is going to end up costing you more in terms of revenue than it would have to write the cheque.  I do not think this would be the case very often, but Alfredsson is a once in a franchise player and not that you owed it to him, but you kind of owed it to him.

He shouldn’t have had to come with his hat in hand and beg for a contract.  Here is how you should have instructed your GM to handle the “negotiations”:

1.  Alfie says he is going to play again.

2. Ask the agent for a number.

3. Before he finishes saying than number, you say “done” and write up the contract.

I don’t want to tell you how to run your business.  You have made more money this year than I will see in my lifetime.  Obviously you have made some good decisions along the way that have put you in the place you are in.  Some of them good, some of them bad.  This would be one of the bad ones.  Your handling of the situation, budget or no budget, stinks and you and your ego have cost the city an icon and also tarnished the reputation of the Senators in the process.  Giving in to Alfredsson’s initial request would not have been a sign of weakness, nor would it have set a precedent.  There is only one Daniel Alfredsson, and he should have been treated as such, especially in this market.

Your instruction to Murray to “get it done” was too little, too late and seems to me to be reactionary, coming after realizing the possibility existed that you might actually lose the face of your franchise, not to retirement but to an opponent.   Realizing the backlash that was coming, then supplying the blank cheque was arrogant thinking, believing that money would overcome the disrespect shown earlier in the week, forcing Alfie to look elsewhere. Letting him get to the open negotiating window without having his name on a contract was a serious error in judgement.

You are not solely to blame, and Alfredsson deserves his share of the fingers that are being pointed in his direction.  But you needed to get ahead of the curve on this one and not try to nickel and dime your way through it.  Alfredsson earned that respect and did not get it, and much of the respect that the city had for you is now gone also. That will be difficult to entirely recapture, Bobby Ryan or no Bobby Ryan.



A disgruntled/disappointed Senators Fan