Usually if the Ottawa Senators are in the news for off-ice reasons, it’s not a good thing. Sometimes however, as a great movie once said, even a blind pig finds a truffle. There was a bit of both, this week, so let’s dive right in:
- The attendance at Canadian Tire Centre so far this season has been nothing short of a big yikes. The game against St. Louis drew just over 9000 fans, and Saturday saw a little over 11000. CBC Ottawa did an interesting piece on the declining numbers, citing stats since the 2004-2005 lockout:/
Needless to say, there is some definite cause for concern here. While I don’t think the team is in any danger of relocating, there’s been a direct correlation to the “Rise of Melnyk” and the drop in fan attendance. The team has resorted to practically giving tickets away, much to the chagrin of season ticket holders.
- Despite the clear divide between management and fans, it appears that Eugene Melnyk still has the support of the National Hockey League./
"`We are feeling fine about the #Senators owner. Frankly, I think the recent criticism he is receiving from the media is extremely unfair and unjustified."— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) October 9, 2019
- #NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly to @PierreVLeBrun re: recent stories about Eugene Melnyk: https://t.co/SA6t9TA1ab pic.twitter.com/RAGVaBD0kt
If Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly’s comments are to be taken at face value, it would mean that there is no pressure on Melnyk. However, I don’t think that’s the case. I think Gary Bettman and Co. have had about enough of the owner’s antics, and are just doing everything they can to prevent him from driving the team’s value down. The defence of Melnyk was, perhaps, a bit gratuitous, but hopefully it’s all to facilitate a sale.
- Finally, it was announced during the Tampa game that the Senators have hired Dave Smart to a consultant position with the organization. The winningest coach in Canadian university basketball history, the former Carleton Ravens bench boss has had at least a friendly relationship with the Sens for some time. For those unfamiliar with Smart, Ian Mendes penned a great piece that details DJ Smith’s rationale:/
“I listened to him talk to our young guys at rookie camp and I thought it was exceptional. Just his view on how you put winning teams together and it’s very similar to what I believe in,” Smith said on Saturday. “I just said that’s a guy that I could use.”
Though the divide between basketball and hockey is huge, this has the potential to be a great hire for the Sens. For an organization that is still stuck with the reputation of being behind the times, this is an uncharacteristically analytic move. With Smart’s ability to reach young athletes, this seems like it could be a match made in heaven:
Smart – who boasted a ludicrous career winning percentage of .925 against USports competition – has the reputation of being a tightly-wound perfectionist who demands the most out of his players and staff. Smith – in his first full-season as an NHL head coach – is known as one of the most gregarious personalities behind the bench – extremely loud and equally demanding.