Melnyk: 'Absolute confidence'

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Before heading into the Western-themed Sens Soiree last night, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk had his figurative six guns drawn.

It's time for the Showdown at the Not-So-Okay Corral.

With his team having won just six of its last 17 games, Melnyk said he has confidence in the players and coaches GM Bryan Murray has assembled and asked for Senators fans to give this team a chance.

But?

"It's now crunch time. If they can't get together now, they know where they are going to be at in three or four weeks," said Melnyk at the Hilton Lac-Leamy as players and guests moved about in cowboy hats, vests and other Western garb at the club's big annual fundraiser.

"I have great confidence."

Melnyk has done his part. He has pretty much spent to the salary cap and made his expectations clear. Those were likely outlined three weeks ago when Melnyk called Murray and coach John Paddock to a breakfast meeting in Florida at an earlier stage of the Senators' struggles.

With the grumbling among fans growing about almost every aspect of the Senators' play these days -- Paddock's coaching (specifically the way he's handled the goaltending; the team's lax defensive play), the struggles of the top line (Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza have combined for one goal and two assists in four games) and the unsettled goaltending, Melnyk asked for patience.

"I think over the next couple of weeks, the team is going to gel into really what we believe the team is. I said it a couple of weeks ago, it's just patience, patience, patience," he said.

"I know this is something people have heard before, but now is when it counts. It's the home stretch. Everything that happened before now almost doesn't matter, I know our guys are going to do it. These are professional athletes. They know what they need to do, they know how to get there, they have great leadership in the dressing room and they have tremendous respect for John Paddock, as well as Bryan."

Melnyk said he is convinced Paddock is the guy to do the job behind the bench.

"I think John is great," said Melnyk. "John is doing everything he can. He may seem like a quiet guy. Believe me, when he speaks, everybody listens."

Melnyk isn't particularly optimistic another deal can be done before Tuesday's trade deadline, though there were rumours of a deal to bring Mike Peca, who visits with the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight, to the Senators.

"There's just a lot of talking going on at this point," said Melnyk. "Something may happen, something may not happen. Regardless, what we have right now is enough, I think, to take us deep into the playoffs and I have absolute confidence in our guys.

"If we can add somebody that can help us in the front, as Bryan has said, it would be great, but if not, we're ready to go. We're ready for battle."

Paddock will go with Ray Emery in net tonight for the third straight game.

"I thought he was good (Tuesday) night," said Paddock. "We won the game. There are five games in a short span here. Both goalies are going to play in that span."

As far as the struggles of The Pizza Line, Paddock kind of had the same philosophy as the big boss.

Crunch time is here.

"They'll be fine," said Paddock.

"They'll be fine or we won't be going anywhere."


Photos