Melnyk Speaks: Dave Cameron, Pierre Dorion and Spending for a New Coach
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk joined TSN's Ian Mendes as they discussed an array of topics.
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk joined Ian Mendes on TSN 1200 earlier today. The following is a transcript of Melnyk's comments.
On the firing of Dave Cameron:
"Y'know, I'm about to call him. I've been procrastinating all day. It's tough because we go way back to the St. Mike's Majors probably 15 years. We developed a great friendship, I met his wife, I've been out to P.E.I. at his place. We've been through thick and thin, tough times and great times, Memorial Cup finals and all sorts of things. We kind of carrie through will all the promises I made to him and he made to me, with the Majors and we moved him up to Binghamton and once he was in Binghamton we were tanking with the Majors and I asked if he would come back and he did. Nobody would ever do that. He came back for three years and we got to the Memorial Cup Final and we didn't win but we made a great run for everyone. He was promoted right back and made head coach for the Sens. It couldn't have been a better story other than us winning a Stanley Cup."
On how involved he is with the hockey operations:
"Well, I live it like any other fan. I sit through those treacherous and torturous games where we're up 3-0 and you don't leave your TV anymore, and then you're so pissed you click it off and you hope for the next game and you hope for the next game. It's tough. You know, I get involved with the decisions. If there's a significant trade, I want to know about it and understand it. But I've never overridden Bryan or the coaches on anything other than being informed and putting in my five cents. But that's meant not to sway them, it's their decision. Otherwise, I can only point the finger at myself. I'm not the expert, that's what these guys have been doing for the last 30-odd (years) and with Bryan, 40-plus years. So yeah, it's going to be a tough day today."
On his last conversation with Bryan Murray:
"The (conversations) are kind of awkward and they come out of the blue. People say things in a certain way and you ask 'how do you feel?'. He's carrying this hard. He looks at it because he knows he's had all the rope he wanted. Even though people talk about us as a budget team, and we are, but when it comes to big players and big numbers I have no hesitancy. I kept asking him all the time. He says 'look, I'm getting all kinds of trash about not wanting to spend.' He says there's nothing out there. So it's really up to him, and has been, and now it's up to Pierre to do his best and that includes coaching and that includes player trades. It's their show, and I just want to sit back and enjoy it."
On Pierre Dorion:
"He was a natural succession. It was very, very natural. He understood the cultural within Ottawa. He understood the culture of the organization. To bring somebody in from the outside, the real outside, is not going to be easy. There's a lot of history. There's reasons players are on (the team), there's reasons that we traded, reasons we want to trade. He's been living it with Bryan side by side. It's no different than any other succession planning. It was very, very smooth and it continues to be smooth. I want to insure that Bryan's involved and he has some oversight and that he can kind of correct things if they need to be corrected. But he really wants, and everyone wants, Pierre to succeed, and I'm sure he will."
On potentially bringing in someone in from the outside to examine the organization:
"From a hockey ops standpoint? You know, who do I go to? Who do I trust? You've got a guy in Bryan who's been around the block many times. You just see who his friends are, who he hangs with, and these are all the top managers in the league and they've known each other. You bring somebody in from the outside and they have no responsibility. That's the problem with consultants. They'll give you all the advice in the world, some of it sounds good, the reports will be pretty and Bryan will scribble down on the back of a napkin next year's lineup. And here you'll get a report for $200,000 and the guy's not responsible. He did the report. The guys like Pierre, he has to wear this everyday. That's the best motivator I've ever seen."
On if he's willing to spend whatever it takes to bring in the best coach:
"Does he walk on water? I mean, $5 million bucks? Sometimes the markets get silly. I've seen it in horses, i've seen it in hockey players and things change all of a sudden somehow, some way. I know the history with the coaches and general managers and proven track records to a certain point. But take a look at who's been winning Stanley Cups for the past 10,15 years. You don't really see dynasties like you used to. You don't really see the dominance of the managers over the players. And frankly, you don't ever see really one or two players dominate the team and make it all the way. It's really a team effort and I think it's a team effort on the coaching and the GM side and the hockey ops. So to put that kind of money for one single person, that's tough from even a management point of view. You wouldn't do that with an executive. Why go crazy in the business of hockey to do that? And I don't think it can make that much of a difference. I really don't. If I thought it did, so what do you do? You trade out a $5 million dollar player? You want to do that? I'll tell you, the $5 million dollar player isn't one without a good coach. I get that. But you don't want to go crazy either and blow your ability to spend later. There is going to be a magic moment. We're going to have to step up and do something. It would almost be silly, but when you're right on the brink of having a Stanley Cup team, that's when you whack them. That's when you just go nuts and roll the dice saying 'I'm all in.' I'm all in in the long way, but if you have to, you have to. But I don't think you have to spend, I honestly don't. But we'll do it when we can."
On the revolving door of coaches in Ottawa:
"How many? Ugh. Somehow the first dates are always the best, heh? And what happens is in the long run it just doesn't work out. But I know, I am concerned. This next coach I'm hoping is going to be a long term coach. I really tough that every single one of them (were). And I'm the last guy to tease them. It's not like I go through the rigorous process. But I'm hoping that this time around we get the right person, and I'm prepared to pay up for him."
On his comments earlier on about no one being untouchable:
"Don't you love it? Can you imagine sitting in my little apartment here and doing all that havoc? You know, they ask me a question 'is anyone untouchable?' No, of course not, everybody's reviewed. I don't care who you are, everybody's reviewed. And guess what, he may pass with flying colours instantly. I think every fan would think the same thing, I even think the same thing. But what happens if your general manager comes in and says 'you know what, Euegene, if we want to get these three guys but we have to give up Player X,' what do you do? I'm going to override this guy? Are you kidding me? On a decision like that? No. At one point you say 'hey come on, you better think this through because all hell's going to break lose the next day.' And I'm going on holiday for the next three months. In all seriousness, you can't put ropes around the new GM when they walk into town. You just can't do it. Let them do what they need to do. Let them do their work, and they'll come back with the recommendations. And I hardly doubt that Erik's going to be on any list of any sort."