There’s only one reasonable explanation as to why the owner of the Ottawa Senators has run the franchise into the ground…he’s a double agent.
On August 26th, 2003, the Ottawa Senators were forever changed as an organization.
On that day, business mogul Eugene Melnyk purchased the Senators and their arena (Then the Corel Centre) for $100 million, helping bring the Sens out of financial ruin that included $300 million in debts.
It was a monumental moment for the franchise, the savior the team needed to help keep the team on the up-and-up and the organization’s finances in check.
But what Sens fans didn’t realize is that they had been deceived.
For you see, Melnyk’s did not purchase the Senators to help save the team, but to destroy it, and make way for the only Ontario based team in his heart: The Toronto Maple Leafs.
A Story of Love, Anger, and Deception
The seeds of Melnyk’s plan were planted quite early in his life. Born in 1959, Melnyk was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. During his youth, he witnessed his beloved Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967.
Seeing his boyhood team raise the greatest trophy in sports brought young Eugene more joy than he could imagine. Eventually, the Stanley Cup became precious to him. After seeing the Leafs win the cup at the age of eight, Melnyk looked forward to another Leafs win the next year.
Only thing was the precious didn’t return to Toronto the next year.
Or the year after that.
In fact, he would never see the Maple Leafs hoist the precious again.
Eugene’s life became full of bitterness and envy, watching other teams raise Lord Stanley’s Cup while his Leafs could never make the moves necessary to bring the cup back to Toronto. As Eugene grew older, he became desperate. He wanted to help the Maple Leafs win by any means necessary. Then in 1992, an opportunity presented itself.
The Ottawa Senators were returning to the NHL after being absent from the league since 1934, meaning there were now two professional hockey teams in Ontario. This gave Eugene an idea, an awful idea.
He would wait, bide his time, increasing his wealth while he watched the new Senators struggle with monetary problems. By 2003, the Senators had reached a crisis point financially, desperately needing a new owner to right the ship. Eugene had found his moment to strike.
Melnyk purchased the Ottawa Senators and would begin a plan to ruin the team from the inside to make sure the Maple Leafs were the only NHL team left in Ontario and to make sure that his childhood team would raise the precious once more. He would make his moves in secret, but his recent actions may have revealed his true motives to Senators fans.
Exhibit A: Trades
Using trades, Eugene let the Maple Leafs off the hook for a horrible contract. The Sens traded five prospects to the Leafs in exchange for four prospects and Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. This may not have been so obvious had Melnyk not made one critical error: The Maple Leafs did not retain any of Phaneuf’s $7 million AAV. This move gave the Leafs significant salary cap relief and was a major step in their rebuild coming to fruition.
And that wasn’t the only trade that dastardly Melnyk had a hand in. The Matt Duchene trade was made to mess with the Sens’ draft capital and set the team back several years and keep them away from the Leafs in the standings and Erik Karlsson, the team’s best defenseman, was let go for peanuts. So many more trades were made simply to make the Sens easy pickings for whenever they had to play the Maple Leafs.
Exhibit B: His Treatment of Star Players
Eventually the Senators would stumble upon elite talent to bring into the organization, which worried Eugene. The Senators and Maple Leafs had to play multiple times a year, what if these skilled players prevented Toronto from making it to the playoffs?
Eugene would have none of it. Whether it was angering Kyle Turris to the point he wanted to leave, low-balling Daniel Alfredsson, the greatest player in Senators’ history, or trading Erik Karlsson to the Western Conference so the Leafs only had to play him twice, it was all done as a sacrifice to the Maple Leafs. The scheming owner would make sure no star player would want to stay in Ottawa, leaving the door open for those players to join Toronto on a Stanley Cup run.
Exhibit C: Carelessness
Do you know why the Ottawa Senators don’t have a new arena? Eugene Melnyk. Every time the team and city are near a deal, Eugene eats the paperwork to prevent it from being signed. Why? Because no arena in Canada can compare to the beauty of Scotiabank Arena. The Sens’ new arena would be a disgrace to Scotiabank’s majesty and Eugene will simply not allow it to be built.
Remember when he talked about moving the team “if it was a disaster“ and having to fight “every day to sell a ticket” before the Senators’ alumni game? Melnyk simply believes all of those living in Ontario must see the light and join the Maple Leaf empire; anyone who cheers for the Senators simply needs to be coerced into cheering for the Leafs.
He’s Still Here
There was probably more evidence that could be named, but that doesn’t matter, what does matter is that Melnyk could get his wish. Arena talks are still slow, fans have stopped showing up, the Senators are awful and the glorious Maple Leafs are in a playoff spot. All is going according to plan for Eugene as he watches his Leafs from afar, counting down the days until they raise the precious again.
With the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs facing off at Scotiabank Arena tonight, it is important to know where the loyalties of Eugene Melnyk lie. The shroud has fallen from his head. His motives are clear, and hopefully the world will see him for the traitor that he is.