Eugene Melnyk and The Twelve Types of Owners You Meet in Heaven and Hell (But Mostly Hell)

In case you didn't notice, Eugene Melnyk went and opened his mouth again. What did he say this time? Well, apparently The Euge let it slip that he has commissioned a forensic study to prove that Matt Cooke intentionally injured Erik Karlsson. To wit, here's what he had to say on Toronto sports radio, The Fan 590:

"I’ll bring it to (Brendan) Shanahan and to Gary (Bettman) and at that point they can decide whether it’s something they want to put out publicly or not, if I’m right. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong."

I think everything about this is simply wonderful, and I mean that in the original meaning of the word wonderful; full of wonder, full of awe. I mean, talk about not letting go. It's one thing to call a player out publicly, in the heat of the moment, due to said player's shady history, but it's another entirely to commission a forensic study months after the fact to prove an intent that seems pretty, well, unproveable.

The Twitter has predictably taken to this story like a dung beetle takes to dung, and it's taken to it for the same reason. As this ever-growing katamari of mock outrage, incredulity, CSI Ottawa jokes, and photoshops rolls together, many Sens fans have rolled their eyes wondering why our owner must bring this shame upon us.

I don't understand why, though. We have one of the greatest types of owners in sports, and we should embrace him. All one needs to do is look around to see what else we could have.

· The Milford Man

As seen owning: Vancouver Canucks (Francesco Aquilini), Philadelphia Eagles (Jeffery Lurie)

This is probably the most common type of sports owner in existence. I'd imagine this is the owner the aforementioned eye-rollers would like to have. A man who keeps the cash rolling in, signs the cheques, and otherwise is neither seen nor heard. Really, what is the point of this owner, though? I just googled both those owners and as far as I can tell, neither has ever said anything remotely interesting ever or has a discernible personality. If all you want is a faceless bag of money in the owner’s box, why not just go with a literal faceless bag of money as seen in...

· The Corporation

As seen owning: Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Communications), Toronto Maple Leafs (Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment), Seattle Mariners (Nintendo)

Congratulations, your sports franchise is now owned by a non-corporeal legal construct! This owner won’t embarrass you, but it won’t love you either. It’s just content churning out a tidy profit and doesn’t have any real stake in the results of the club. Maybe your team will win, maybe it will lose, but you can take comfort in the fact that regardless of the outcome, your irrational fanatical devotion to the team will translate into dollars it can take to the shareholder’s meeting. This is the sports owner equivalent of nihilism, but it could still be worse. You could have…

· The Ancient Despot Owner Who Won’t Just Fucking Die Already

As seen owning: Buffalo Bills (Ralph Wilson), Dallas Cowboys (Jerry Jones), Oakland Raiders (Al Davis), Los Angeles Clippers (Donald Stirling), New York Mets (Fred Wilpon), Baltimore Orioles (Peter Angelos)

The interesting thing about the Ancient Despot Owner Who Won’t Just Fucking Die Already is that there’s a good chance his teams used to be successful. The owners of the above mentioned teams all won championships, or at least got very close, except for Donald Stirling who might be in with a shot pretty soon. Times have changed, however, and now the club is hopelessly weighed down by the owner’s ego and hubris and there’s simply no way that the situation is ever going to get better unless the owner either sells the team (which he never will because of the aforementioned ego), or dies. Have fun watching your team overpay for terrible players in the mean time. Once the owner does eventually bring down the curtain and join the choir invisible, you might get…

· The All in the Family

As seen owning: Pittsburgh Steelers (The Rooneys), Los Angeles Lakers (The Buss’s), New York Yankees (The Steinbrenners), Montreal Canadiens (The Molsons)

This is actually a fairly rare type of ownership. It requires a franchise with a storied history and long periods of success, though the success does not necessarily need to be recent (although it certainly helps). The All in the Family occurs after the death of the franchise defining owner. Usually said owner has owned the team for a long time, and was well respected within the league, as was certainly the case with Art Rooney and Jerry Buss. I think people were even growing sort of fond of George Steinbrenner by the time he died. Mind you, it’s also important to remember that George Steinbrenner also started out as…

· The Asshole

As seen owning: Boston Bruins (Jeremy Jacobs), New York Yankees (George Steinbrenner before he got suspended), New York Knicks and New York Rangers (James Dolan)

All The Asshole wants is a bastard with talent, and he doesn’t care how he gets him. The Asshole knows that in the Game of Sports Thrones, you win or you die, and he doesn’t own the damn team to watch it lose. The Asshole doesn’t think of players as people, but rather as assets. Don’t expect anything resembling loyalty from The Asshole, but do expect him to keep throwing money at the team until it wins something. This is the major difference between The Asshole and…

· The Cheap Bastard

As seen owning: New York Islanders (Charles Wang), Florida Marlins (John Henry)

The only thing stopping this owner from spending even less money than he already is, is the cap floor. Otherwise, this owner has figured out that by spending the very least amount of money possible, he can still turn a tiny profit despite the fact the team will pretty much never be competitive. There is a silver lining, however. Because the team finishes so close to last every year, the team gets lots of strong, young talent in the draft. Inevitably, said talent gets traded away or leaves for another team that actually wants to pay them the money they’re worth, but at least you get to tell the rest of the league, “I knew him when”. In defense of The Cheap Bastard, he’s probably preventing himself from turning into…

· The Bottomless Pit of Debt

As seen owning: Sacramento Kings (Joe and Gavin Maloof), Manchester United FC (Joel and Malcolm Glazer)

This guy is bad news. Maybe your owners are incompetent businessmen, or maybe they bought the team, went into massive debt, then borrowed the debt back against the team they just bought (which should have never been allowed, by the way, but I digress). Either way, your team is in serious trouble on account of being associated with the owner at all. If your team doesn’t happen to be an international sporting establishment and able to float shares on the stock market to try to rescue some cash flow, or isn't able to be sold, there’s a very good chance this owner turns into…

· The Moving Guy

As seen owning: Seattle Super Sonics, Atlanta Thrashers, Phoenix Coyotes, Baltimore Colts, Montreal Expos

Sorry, your team is no longer profitable, so you can’t keep it. Thanks for your long years of loyal fandom, but in the end, you get nothing. You lose. Good day, sir. Having this owner is always a tragedy. Sometimes you see The Moving Guy coming, like with the Expos or the Thrashers, but sometimes it’s shady, underhanded, and shocking like with the Sonics and the Colts. One possible way of being saved from The Moving Guy is being bought by…

· The Russian Billionaire Who I’m Sure Acquired His Fortune Via Totally Legitimate Means

As seen owning: Brooklyn Nets (Mikhail Prokhorov), Chelsea FC (Roman Abramovich)

This owner is generally related to The Asshole, in that he’s going to throw money at the team until it wins something, goddammit. Generally, you don’t care, however, because finally someone is making it rain! Again, the sports team is a vanity project, and he’s hard to relate to as a fan, but at least the on-field product is worth cheering for again. In European soccer, The Russian Billionaire Who I’m Sure Acquired His Fortune Via Totally Legitimate Means is also closely related to The Arab Sheikh Who I’m Sure Acquired His Fortune Via Oil (It Was Definitely Oil). I think there could be an influx of Russian billionaires to the NHL if teams start going on sale, and they get tired of owning KHL teams, because KHL teams can’t win the Stanley Cup. If you’re lucky, they’ll pull a Mikhail Prokhorov and co-own with…

· The Celebrity

As seen owning: Brooklyn Nets (Jay-Z), Pittsburgh Penguins (Mario Lemieux), Texas Rangers (Nolan Ryan), Charlotte Bobcats (Michael Jordan)

Generally The Celebrity is either a music star, or a former player making good on with his old team (or in MJ’s case, any team). Either way, it’s not hard to get behind this owner. The Celebrity is a fine face for the franchise, because he’s been in the spotlight for years and knows how to handle the media. This is in stark contrast to…

· The Maverick

As seen owning: Dallas Mavericks (Mark Cuban), Ottawa Senators (Eugene Melnyk), Cleveland Cavaliers (Dan Gilbert)

The Maverick has money and opinions, and to get one, you’re going to have to take the other. I love The Maverick because you never know what he’s going to say next, but you know it’s going to be entertaining, and you know he’s going to say it because he’s passionate about the team. I really think The Maverick is a fan, first and foremost, and I love having my own feelings as a fan reflected in the ownership of the team. When Mark Cuban talks about reffing conspiracies, or Eugene Melnyk talks about injuries to star players, or Dan Gilbert talks about being rejected by LeBron, we know where they’re coming from because they're fans like us. Sure The Maverick doesn’t have a filter, but where’s the fun in that? Embrace the unpredictability, and be happy you have an owner who is engaged and passionate. As far as I’m concerned the only owner better than The Maverick is…

· The Legend

As seen owning: Chicago Bulls (Jerry Reinsdorf), Philadelphia Flyers (Ed Snider), Mike Ilitch (Detroit Red Wings), Philadelphia Phillies (David Montgomery), New England Patriots (Robert Kraft)

The Legend is just that. He’s been involved with the team and the league for a very long time, and is committed to the overall health of the game, as well as his team. The Legend is usually on the league’s Board of Governors and is pretty much universally respected in the community and within the league. If your sports owner is a Legend, count yourself as lucky; they don’t come along very often.

I think it's clear where I stand on this, but I say again, let Melnyk have his fun. It's more fun this way. We know the guy cares. It wasn't so long ago that the Senators were on their way to becoming just another casualty of Bettman's NHL like the Thrashers or Phoenix. Sens fans should never forget this. The next time Melnyk says something a little silly, just consider it a reminder that it could be so much worse.

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