Eugene Melnyk Speaks: Disappointment, Changes, Future
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk discusses a lot in his press conference earlier today.
On the team's struggles of late and making the playoffs this season:
"That's going to be tough. But I, if anybody, should believe in miracles. But I guess last year was a miracle. Until it's over, it's not over. But it does look pretty bleak right now and frankly I am disappointed where we are. We shouldn't be here, we had a lot bigger aspirations. But we are where we are and we're going to have to make changes for next year."
On what went wrong:
"No idea. I sit there with Bryan (Murray) and we just sit there and nod our heads. We just can't get it. Well, we get it now. I remember back in December all those games, like three in a row, we lost by a goal and we were leading, it was inconstancy and some stupidity. I go back to the very first game. You put in the second goalie (Matt O'Connor), but what was that about on opening night? And the guy gets clobbered. That's not fair to him and not fair to the fans. It's just a lot of little, tiny mistakes, and all of a sudden they escalate, it gets serious and it gets in people's heads. Some days you look like Stanley Cup champs and then you look like AHL players. We've got to make some changes, I know that."
On if the Senators need to be spending more:
"Ah that's baloney. Absolute baloney. We throw $68 million U.S. dollars at this, that's our payroll, let's get that straight. Which puts us way over budget. If there's a single player or two or three that we could add, we would've added them, and Bryan knows that. But he just couldn't find anything that was worth while. Never mind paying for it. I think that trade with Toronto was excellent. Bringing (Scott) Gomez in was just a function of filling in a veteran role and he played that role. So, we made some good moves, some bright spots. We have some good players coming up, as well. Every year you can blame injuries, but we legitimately again had Chris (Phillips) out - your veteran defenseman - Clarke (MacArthur) gets nailed early on in the season. One day it's going to all come together and we will get that same kind of rush that we did last year."
On, specifically, the changes referred to before:
"No a lot of changes, but key changes."
On Dave Cameron and Bryan Murray's future:
"The same answer I had in December. It's day-to-day. We're grooming people. I think, after the season's done, you sit back and look and say 'okay.' You'll see fallouts everywhere. A lot changes in the NHL with coaches and general managers, but right now I leave it to Bryan. If he wants to, we're about to go through the next 14 months of some really tough decisions and change the whole complexion of a lot of teams. That includes the expansion draft. That's going to be a killer. The Vegas team, if that's the one chosen, they pay $500 million for the privilege of picking the players that they're going to get. You guys have done the analysis, we've got some pretty good players that we can protect because of the numbers."
On if Dave Cameron is specifically under review:
"I think every single aspect of the team is under the microscope right now. This is hours and hours and hours of work, micro-scoping every part from players to trainers to coaching to managerial, how we draft, what we draft, where they end up, because for something like this, you do need an answer to fix it. We're going to fix this. We've been here before, we've seen the tops, we've seen the bottoms and this is not one of those top years."
On the season it's been:
"A total roller coaster of hope and despair. That's the best way to put it. In consistency, is the best way to describe it. We just never got into that groove. We'd win two in a row so everyone lights up and then we'd dump a stupid one. I don't think we ever had a streak of significance... But I still don't know what's better. Is it this, where we continue throughout the season, keep trying even today or what happened to other teams when they go 13-0 and then all of a sudden it's a total waterfall. But needless to say, it's something to say about (our) system, no Canadian teams are in the playoffs. We're the best one. Figure that. But everyone is going to be looking into themselves and what the good teams are doing in this environment, you don't necessarily, because by the time you copy them it could be an entirely different system."
On the potential of blowing things up and starting over:
"We did that already a few years ago. Can't keep blowing things up. And that's a term I got in a lot of trouble for... I think things can be fixed. We know, I think you guys know, everybody knows, where things can be fixed. We need some veterans coming back into the game, just a couple to mature the players. The young ones are starting to become middle-aged in hockey terms, which is good. We've got some of that talent, and it's also trade bait for us, but also guys that we could develop into some proper consistent lines."
On the organization as a whole:
"I'm looking at all of it. It's right across the board, there's no one that's safe when you have a year like we just did. There's no way. The status quo is just to get us there [playoffs] again next year. This team can not survive not making the playoffs. We have to do it by guts, we have to do it by hard work and we can get there. That's what we need to do. Nothing more. You can't just throw money at these things. We all know other teams that have just thrown money at these things for decades and have gotten nowhere. We need to do it a different way and I think we are."
You can find the full audio here at TSN.ca.