|Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk says the players union has no reason to believe the owners aren't telling the truth when it comes to reporting huge losses. (Ottawa Sun File Photo/Tony Caldwell)
Eugene Melnyk says the numbers don't lie. And he's willing to put his money where his mouth is.
The Senators owner told the Sun yesterday he'd be willing to allow the NHL Players' Association to hire an auditor to review the books of the club and the Corel Centre.
"The results wouldn't be pretty," said Melnyk.
In an e-mail, Melnyk said the union has no reason to believe the owners aren't telling the truth when it comes to reporting huge losses.
"I simply think that any negotiation has to begin with both parties being informed and in good faith, respecting the true realities of each other's situation," said Melnyk.
The Senators would have been willing to live with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman offering the players a $45-million (all figures US) salary cap. But Melnyk said $42.5 million was still stretching the limit.
"In Ottawa, our reality is the current and historical revenues and expenses simply don't make the franchise, including the Corel Centre, economically feasible," said Melnyk. "The tactic of simply ignoring this reality may be perceived as clever negotiating, but in the end, it is destructive. It creates a false impression of deception and therefore mistrust. That is why I would be willing to have anyone (subject to obtaining permission) independently review all of our financial records."
NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said he saw the numbers for Ottawa while former owner Rod Bryden was trying to pull off his complicated tax plan and doesn't believe a second look would do any good.
The chances of a season were buried on Saturday when neither side would budge, even with Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux on hand. There's a belief some owners wouldn't allow Bettman to move off his $42.5-million offer.
"Eight billionaire owners hijacked the NHL and showed they don't care one iota about the survival of the game as we know it," said agent Allan Walsh. "These eight owners all have many other businesses, their hockey team is a toy that can be bragged about to friends at the local country club. This is about union busting and increasing franchise values."
Melnyk said he hasn't given up hope a deal can be made.
"I have been hopeful that an agreement could be reached from the moment I acquired the franchise," said Melnyk.