#MelnykOut: Sens fans furious over owner's comments about possible relocation
Ben Cousins, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Sunday, December 17, 2017 10:23AM EST
During what was supposed to be a celebration of hockey in Ottawa Saturday night, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk cast a cloud over the weekend and angered fans by suggesting the team might relocate.
On Saturday night, the Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in the NHL 100 Classic in the open-air stadium of Lansdowne Park. The game was meant to be a celebration of the NHL’s centennial anniversary and represented the last major event in Ottawa for Canada 150.
In the days leading up to the event, Melnyk suggested the team could move out of the nation’s capital if things don’t turn around with the team’s lingering attendance issues, or if a proposal for a new downtown arena falls through.
When reporters asked about potential relocation on Friday, Melnyk responded: “If it becomes a disaster, yes.”
"If it doesn't look good here, it could look very, very nice somewhere else, but I'm not suggesting that right now,” Melnyk added.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman tried to calm the nerves of fans in an interview with TSN.
“You can’t move a team unless you go through procedures and get approval from the NHL board of governors,” he said. “I think this is much ado about nothing.”
Still, Melnyk’s comments left a sour taste in the mouths of Sens fans and even inspired the hashtag #MelnykOut, designed for fans to voice their frustration with the owner.
“(The comments were) completely inappropriate, especially the day before such a huge game where our city has come together to create such a big event,” Keely Dunn, a Sens fan, told CTV Ottawa.
Maggie Culps, a Senators fan who moved to Ottawa in part to be closer to the team, said the owner’s comments were “bold.”
“It’s the Ottawa Senators,” she said. “It’s the capital. How can you move a team out of the capital?”
Bruce Firestone, a former co-owner of the Senators, says now is not the time for anything drastic.
“You have to be very careful, and obviously the Sens are going through a difficult time,” he said.
Cost of ticket: $400— Sens Callups (@SensCallUps) December 16, 2017
New #NHL100 jersey: $270
New #NHL100 jacket: $270
Freezing your butt outside for the #Sens: Priceless
Having team owner on fan base for not supporting the market: Speechless #MelnykOut
all I want for christmas is a bills playoff game and #MelnykOut— taylor (@taylormaxinee) December 16, 2017
I hope everybody except for Eugene Melnyk has a great time at the game today. #MelnykOut— Bonk's Mullet (@BonksMullet) December 16, 2017