Eugene Melnyk has a real knack for kicking people while they’re down.
Every time he puts his face in front of a microphone, you wonder how he could possibly make things worse. After everything that’s happened, everything that’s been said, what on Earth could come out of his mouth that would escalate things any further?
Every time, he outdoes himself.
When it was announced, yesterday, that Melnyk would be on Primetime Sports with Bob McCown, it drew a collective groan from the Senators faithful. It’s typical Eugene to leave hometown media in the dark, but jump at the chance to hear himself talk on Toronto radio.
As discussed in today’s Five Thoughts, Melnyk revealed on Sportsnet Radio 590 that he didn’t consider fans angry at the organization to be “real fans”, and said he didn’t pay any mind to those who have had enough of his antics.
This morning, however, Melnyk appeared on Bill Carroll’s morning show, on CFRA Ottawa.
Let me just take a brief pause here to point out the blatant disrespect to TSN1200, and the network as a whole. Not only did Melnyk appear on Sportsnet, their biggest competitor, but his first Ottawa interview in almost two years is on CFRA? TSN has provided excellent coverage of the Senators, and Eugene Melnyk not interviewing with them is a high school move.
Hoooooo boy, folks. This one was a doozy.
Melnyk sure said a lot, and you can read about the gory details in B_T’s piece from earlier today.
The crème de la crème, though, came with an unthinkable cheap-shot at one of the best journalists, and human beings that cover the Ottawa Senators.
So Eugene Melnyk just called me “bush league” on the air. So there’s that....— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) March 22, 2019
If you’re unfamiliar with Ian Mendes, he’s been covering the Ottawa Senators for over 12 years. He has a fantastic radio show called “The Drive”, weekdays at 2pmET on TSN1200, and is the best Ottawa Senators sportscaster in the business. Ian is honest, and has been nothing but fair to the organization.
Melnyk’s remarks stem from bitterness toward Ian’s interview of Pierre Dorion following the Mark Stone trade. One I touched on in this piece here. While Pierre savoured the taste of his own foot, Mendes was nothing but respectful and polite. He tried to play GMPD a recording of a disgruntled fan, that Dorion declined to hear. Ian said he asked the questions he was asking because he wanted to help the organization. To which, Dorion laughed in his face.
And therein lies the problem. This organization, from the owner on down, is so completely out of touch that they truly believe the garbage they are spewing. Instead of addressing the fan discontent over the Mark Stone trade, they chose to gloss over it and refused to acknowledge any discontent with the fans.
Eugene Melnyk, with not a shred of credibility left to his name, went out of his way to try to destroy that of Ian Mendes. A man who has defended the organization at every turn, and when they deserve to be criticized, has done so in an eloquent and articulate way.
The policy of the Ottawa Senators right now is simple. If you’re not sold on the “rebuild”, or if you’re asking questions, you’re not a real fan. You’re irrelevant. The problem with being outraged at people questioning your intentions, is that you have to have some established good faith. The Senators have none.
Eugene Melnyk has said a lot of things that have infuriated the fanbase. He’s embarrassed us with threats of “forensic investigations”, he’s hung coaches out to dry, and he’s even threatened to move the team, but this may top all of that. Calling Ian Mendes “bush league” might be the biggest slap in the face levelled at this fanbase thus far.
It is absolutely appalling that Melnyk is so conceited, so afraid to hold the mirror at face-level, and answer legitimate questions about his own intentions and misdeeds. That he attempts to deflect by assassinating the character of a world-class human being.
Ian Mendes has worn his heart on his sleeve, and in return he had his integrity called into question by the same owner who just so happens to be in charge for the biggest mass exodus of stars in NHL history.
No, Mr. Melnyk, Ian Mendes is not “bush league”.
What’s bush league is going on your broadcast partner’s chief rival, and then proceeding to blast their main Ottawa personality on a brother station.
What’s bush league is going after a Leafs team that the Sens trail by 37 points, criticizing them for their lack of defence when you ran the best defenceman on the planet out of Ottawa.
What’s bush league is telling your fans that, when the time comes, you will pay Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, etc. when you refused to do the same for franchise players like Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone.
The Ottawa Senators have been the laughing stock of the NHL for more than a year now. They’ve done nothing to resemble a professional hockey club on an organizational level, and their season ticket sales have plummeted. For the owner of this calamity to use a media appearance to bash Ian Mendes, who if anything has been too easy on him, is laughable.
If I could offer Eugene Melnyk one piece of advice, it would be this. Stop surrounding yourself with people that reinforce these notions of a vocal minority, and a biased media. Instead, admit that you’ve driven this car towards the cliff, and make a hard left and get back on the road.
Lashing out at a beloved media personality when you have no leg to stand on is not only bush league. It’s absolutely classless, and it’s yet another PR blunder.
But what else could we expect, from the man who “saved the Ottawa Senators”?