Silver Nuggets: Eugene Melnyk and the City of Ottawa

Relations between the Ottawa Senators and the City of Ottawa are probably at their lowest point in the history of the organization.

This Ottawa casino thing... ugh, am I right? The saga drags on and on, and you can be sure that it's not nearing its end anytime soon.

The most recent development consisted of retaliation from the Ottawa Senators organization for the perceived snub of Eugene Melnyk by city council's recent decision to limit any potential casino development to the Rideau Carleton Raceway, taking Melnyk's embryonic Kanata casino--which he'd apparently been planning for seven years--right off the table. Melnyk brought his big-shot lawyer to council sessions to make it abundantly clear that he was fully intending to exercise his legal options in the aftermath of what he perceived as a sole-sourcing of a future casino development in Ottawa.

This week, Senators president Cyril Leeder stepped down from his positions on several different local boards, including that for Ottawa's 2017 task force, which is working to prepare the city for the 150th celebration of the founding of Canada. That move was effective and subtle, but a clear indication that the Sens organization wants more of a two-way street with the city.

Then Melnyk got personal.

On the Fan 590 yesterday, he greatly oversimplified the process that went into the casino vote (understandably, since it suits his purposes) on his way to calling Mayor Jim Watson and Deputy Mayor Steve Desroches aliens for the decision and re-iterating his intentions to keep this issue alive.

For good measure, Melnyk also took a few jabs at the Rideau Carleton Raceway, calling it "a little, tiny C track that wouldn’t even make it at the Idaho State Fair" that is "in a bad area" and which he wouldn't visit "without an army."

(The city, laughably, has tried to shift the blame for this gongshow to the OLG--who are probably as disappointed in the decision as Melnyk himself, because the limits put on this Raceway idea will basically tie the hands of interested parties, restricting revenue opportunities (rightly or wrongly) and allowing no more than 1,250 slot machines (which the RCR already has) and 21 table games.)

Of course, Eugene Melnyk is right: The city should go through a full, formal process before making any votes on future OLG or casino developments in Ottawa. This process should first ask the question of whether or not Ottawans even want a casino--which is far from certain since the public hasn't yet been appropriately or formally consulted--before asking where they won't want one and then proceeding to a competitive bidding process. It should be simple, but the city complicated things unnecessarily (seemingly all in order to protect a private enterprise, the Raceway, and the rural jobs [and votes] that come with it), and as a result they've pissed off the city's most powerful business leader and opened themselves up to some pretty tricky legal action.

But my question is this: What does Eugene Melnyk think he'll gain by personally and publicly belittling the city's mayor and deputy mayor? Although the city's limited any casino to the raceway for the time being, reversing or amending that decision would take no more than the majority of votes at a future council meeting. But by building on the conflict with the city instead of improving dialogue, Melnyk's further poisoned the relationship and made his prospects for swaying the city to his side even dimmer.

Senators links:

  • Crap about Melnyk's radio appearance: [ 6th Sens | WTYKY | Citizen | Sun ]
  • The Sens invited 57 guys to camp, including Jarrod Maidens (who presumably won't hit the ice) and Jared Cowen (who likely won't report until a deal is done). [Citizen]
  • Cowen and the Sens continue to negotiate, but apparently the defenceman is still in Saskatoon. [Sun]
  • Erik Karlsson isn't worried about his Achilles' tendon, unlike Mark. [Citizen]
  • Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek are similarly healthy and ready to get back at it. [Citizen]
  • Burning questions about Ottawa's second D pairing and leadership, from us!
  • Roy MacGregor files a Sens season preview from beautiful Manotick. [Globe and Mail]
  • Colin Greening is excited to be in the Sens' future plans, and I'm sure the $8M makes it even more exciting. [Citizen]
  • Bryan Murray is entering the last year of his contract and hasn't made any decisions about next season yet. Hopefully he doesn't decide to sign with the Red Wings. [Citizen]
  • Jeremy Milks takes a look at Murray's nightmarishly busy final season. [Black Aces]
  • The Sens' new captain should be named soon. [Sun]
  • No jorts update yet, but apparently Robin Lehner is even leaner than he was last year. [Brennan]
  • Number 35 in Amelia's Sens by the Numbers series. [S7S]
  • Erik Karlsson: The best Swedish hockey player in the world. [Too Many Men on the Site]

Other links:

What do you think of the Ottawa casino saga?

I don't care55
The city should give Melnyk a casino42
The city was right in saving the Raceway5
The city should have a competitive bidding process161
The city shouldn't allow a new casino27

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