Before I turn it over to Chad, I wanted to bring your attention to some comments made by Melnyk in an article posted on the Sportsnet website.
Clearly the fan in Eugene is showing through and he is obviously frustrated with this process. Sure hope he's doing all he can to voice these concerns to Bettman and the other NHL owners.
Anyway, over to you Chad!
COTW- I Wanna be a Billionaire
I like to preface my submissions. It's hard to offer an opinion piece without setting the parameters of the discussion.
I've talked about prospects and greatest Sens ever before, but I think this will be my most interesting entry. It will be for me at least. What if Eugene Melnyk sold the Sens to me, the die-hard fan?
I think it's a relevant topic given the ridiculous rumor-mongering out of Leafs land. I know the Sens aren't for sale, but I'd love to have the chance to buy them. There are a few million reasons why this isn’t realistic, but, like buying a lottery ticket, a man is allowed to dream.
Eugene, you've done a great job with this team. Thank you for being our owner. You've set a great example on how a franchise should run, but below are some things I would consider if I owned the team:
Ok. Let's set some parameters. I'm a billionaire. I have money to spend and I'm not afraid to spend to the cap. I'm taking over and the lockout has just ended. I'm taking over for a 60-game schedule. My assumption is that existing contracts will be honoured, and the cap will be frozen at its current amount. The league will get to 50% of revenues by fixing the cap amount and breaking the tie-in to revenue growth. This will be a short-term fix until the salaries are reduced to 50% of league revenues.
Let's get started.
The fans are my number 1 priority. My message to them is that the Sens are a small market team, and we will continue building the team as we have been. More than ever, the Sens need the fans support because we have a strong nucleus of young players that will need their encouragement as we build a perennial cup contender. As an owner, I am committed to these players, these coaches, and this management team. I plead for forgiveness from fans for the labour dispute. I will draw a parallel to a divorce. There is the father and the mother, but the one getting hurt is the child. It's inexcusable to a certain extent, but working under the current arrangement is worse. There are teams that are failing badly, and, as an owner of another small market team, it was important that we came to a settlement as soon as possible, so that everyone can move forward. It is not a desirable situation, but the owners felt it was a necessary evil. Please forgive us.
In order to welcome fans back, I would make this year's and next year's exhibition games free. Yep, FREE!!! It is my thank you for being a fan. It is also a chance for me to reach out to new fans, young and old, that want a chance to see the Sens. Due to costs, there are many people that cannot afford to go to a game, but the Ottawa Senators are a part of this community. The children are our future fans, and we must do everything in our power to restore the trust of our fan base. We will create a lottery for the seats. We cannot promise that everyone will get a seat, but this would be the most equitable way of showing fans our appreciation. I hope the fans can forgive us. The Ottawa Senators are a part of the community and we need the fans to reciprocate the appreciation. It will help to make Ottawa, as a whole, a more fun city to be in.
Next, as an owner, I would put some of my own personal touches. I'd like to create rivalry nights. Before a Leafs or Habs game for example, I would have games for young and old fans to participate in that would help intensify the rivalry. Let me illustrate. I'm not the most creative guy in the world, but I think it would be fun to have a dunk tank for example. People could throw a ball at a target and try to dunk a person wearing a Leafs jersey (likely a poor staff member or local celebrity). It's a fun, good-natured way to promote the rivalry, and perhaps the money raised can be used to support the Sens Foundation. There could be other games and ideas, but I want to make the hockey experience fun before and after the game for the whole family. Granted, this particular idea may have to be indoors, but there are many things that can be thought of for colder weather as well.
Thirdly, I would keep the management team the same and leave the hockey operations to them. Eugene has had a hands off approach (for the most part), and I would continue with it. My initial gut tells me that Bryan Murray may soon want to take a step-back, but I would want to gather his thoughts on a successor. My assumption will be that Tim Murray will take over, and I will fully support that move. The philosophy will be the same when it comes to player development and scouting. I see no reason for a change. The most successful franchises are the most stable franchises, and I think Ottawa is primed to be a leader on that front.
Finally, with the impending retirement of our long-time captain, I will ensure that there will be an Alfie appreciation and jersey retirement night. Alfie will be a part of this team going forward. The Senators are blessed with having such a great talent on our team for such a long time. Alfie is a role model and his presence around our organization will give our franchise the history and respect across the league that makes future players envious of playing in Ottawa.
The Ottawa Senators will be known to treat their players the best, the fans the best, the coaches the best, and the management the best. We will be the best. Leafs suck.