Sens’ owner says team not leaving Ottawa

Sens’ owner says team not leaving Ottawa

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is going out of his way to make it clear to fans that he has no intentions of moving the franchise from Ottawa.

FILE PHOTO: Owner of professional hockey team Ottawa Senators Eugene Melnyk reacts while being recognized by the Speaker in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

A day after appearing in a video on the club’s site that said as much, Melnyk published an open letter in the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun on Tuesday that reiterated he and the team aren’t going anywhere.

“Our Senators are in Ottawa to stay,” Melnyk writes.

Melnyk continues by announcing a multi-year plan to rebuild the organization, based on “hockey excellence, a fan-first experience, business growth and community engagement.”

“We’re proud of our record,” Melnyk writes. “Over the last 15 years, we’ve delivered 13 winning seasons, nine playoff runs, a Stanley Cup final and — only two years ago — a double-overtime game seven that left us just one goal short of a second Cup final.

“Last season, however, we were horrible, and it just wasn’t acceptable. We must get back to winning, winning a lot more, and with more consistency.”

The Senators were one of the worst teams in the league last year at 28-43-11. Despite the disappointing campaign, the team opted to retain coach Guy Boucher and his staff for this season.

In the video posted Monday, in which Melnyk speaks with longtime Senators defender Mark Borowiecki about the team’s future, the 59-year-old says a major overhaul of the team’s roster can be expected. He does not mention, however, if that means a trade involving star defender Erik Karlsson will take place.

“I think this coming year, 10 out of the 22 players are going to be new, meaning they’re either rookies or played under 10 games last year,” said Melnyk. “Then the following year, it’s going to go up to about 15 of the 22, maybe 16. That’s a total turnover, which is exactly what should be in a rebuild.”

He added that the team is currently “in the dumpster.”

“A lot of people said things last year. When I signed up as an owner, I really didn’t expect something like last year,” Melnyk said. “It was a tough, tough year in the offices, on the ice and now we’re starting off fresh, a lot of things have been changed and I think this year is going to become one of those watershed years for us.

“We’re loaded up with draft picks for the next four, five or six years. Right now, I think it will be very exciting.”

—Field Level Media

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