Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk joined Sportsnet's The Fan 590 yesterday to talk LeBreton Flats and a new coach.
On winning the negotiating rights for LeBreton Flats:
"I was stunned. I really prepared myself that this was not going to happen, and I just think that's a way of surrounding yourself with protection to not be so disappointed. Because it was something we really wanted to do, but we couldn't count on it. It was a complete secretive type of process. You thought you were doing the wrong thing, but it's not like someone was checking you along the way and saying 'yeah, that's right, keep doing that there.' But in the end, it was a pleasant surprise. The first thing I thought of was that they just added 2000 hours to my workload for the next two years."
On the process as of late:
"We met with (the NCC) the very next day. And basically at that point, you sit down and walk through the process and see how long it's going to take, what's going to be required from us to get to the next step and move things along, which we did. It was a very, very good meeting. There was a nice tone to it, in that everybody meant business, but it was like 'let's get going.' We really want to do this. The people at the NCC, they want to see this get done, and I think everybody wants to see this get done. We've already begun."
On if LeBreton Flats win was the determining factor with the Senators' future in Ottawa:
"There's a lot of things that go into making a hockey team run. One of them, actually the most important, is performance. If you can start consistently going deep into the playoffs, or even (just) in the playoffs, then you'll get the attendance and with that you'll get the revenue and then you'll get the salary, and everything just keeps moving right along. Our stadium out in Kanata is nice, it's just (23)-years-old and that's the lifespan of these things. Ultimately we either have to put $100 million into it - and these things aren't cheap, I mean you buy a new one of these things and it's $500 million. That's a lot of dough for a stadium. But it is what it is, and that's what it is now. We'd have to put a lot of money into a new stadium, and that question is: is it a smart move out (in LeBreton Flats) or do you continue battling out (in Kanata) or do we do something else? I guess that was determined for us when we won the rights to continue negotiating on a priority basis with the NCC."
On the hunt for a new head coach:
"I think for us we're down to the last couple of interviews, if that. Pierre basically just updated me and said that he's almost done and we're planning a call on Friday. We go into next week, I'm coming into town and we'll see what we do with, y'know, who's going to be on that final list. It's been progressing since the day we had to start, and the day we could start. And it's gone well. There's some great talent out there." [At this moment, the phone connection failed and then returned for the next question]
On how many names will be on the final list:
"I'll see two. That's it. Basically, it's Pierre's decision but at the end it's the top two he likes, but at the end he's got to live with it, so let him do it. It's what he gets paid for."
On if he wants to talk to the candidates:
On what he expects to get out of the interviews:
"Just a confirmation of what Pierre sees. By that time I'm full knowledgable about the individual. I know of every one of them that's been interviewed. Those that have been are very well-known. And it's very public of who they are. And that's it. It's really more of a casual meeting. I'm the last guy to blow it with. I mean, you'd have to do something really sad to blow it with me. Honest to God, you're in unless you blow it. You've got to really blow it somehow. I think I will go with Pierre's recommendation regardless, but it's just nice to meet both and give my view."
On if the expectation is to reach the playoffs with the new coach next year:
"Yes. Absolutely. First question: is this a playoff team? And he's got to have the right answer. And he's got to believe it. That's the main thing. Don't just tell me, because I will be at you at Game 75."
On if he wants the truth from the coach when asked:
"Yeah. Absolutely. If he says 'no, you don't have a playoff team,' that's fine. Then what do we do? What do I need? If Pierre sits there and concurs, then you get it. It's no secret what we need. We're microscoped up in Ottawa. It's no different than the Leafs. Everybody knows what everybody needs. Go get them."
On what happens to the Canadian Tire Centre when the Senators move downtown:
"There's so many ideas that people are flying around. Some cost $900 million and that's not going to go. But there's so many different options for us. What we need to do is make sure whatever we do sticks around. The people of Kanata have been really good to us. The whole town has just grown with us, I've been there for 13 or 14 years. I have nothing but great things to say about that city. We're going to make sure we leave them right. That's all."
You can find the full audio here.