January 21, 2010
Sens take attendance hitAveraging 17,893 this season
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
OTTAWA — Senators owner Eugene Melnyk says the solution to filling the seats at Scotiabank Place is simple.
“You win. That’s what you do, you’ve gotta win,” said Melnyk.
With Melnyk making a rare appearance Wednesday, on picture day, the Senators were all smiles. And why not? They’re riding a four-game winning streak after a 4-1 victory over Chicago Tuesday.
Melnyk’s expectations are high with the Senators sitting at No. 5 in the Eastern Conference.
With attendance down from an average of 19,081 through 40 games last year to 17,893 in the 28 at home this season, Melnyk told reporters he believes the Senators are one of the top teams in the East and the fans will come back as momentum builds toward the playoffs.
For Thursday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues, the Senators will have winger Milan Michalek back from a concussion that has kept him out for seven games. Centre Jason Spezza (knee) is close to returning.
Melnyk, who is spending to the NHL’s $56.7-million US cap, is hopeful those additions will give the team another push up the standings.
“On the radio, I promised the city of Ottawa we’d go deep in the playoffs so I can’t recant on that,” said Melnyk.
“On paper, at the beginning of the year, this was the elite team, one of the Top 5 teams in the league. Now, they’re starting to show their stuff and I think it can only get better because of all the injured players coming back.”
Speaking to CFRA’s Madely in the Morning before the team picture was taken, Melnyk was more boisterous.
“We are going to be a dangerous team, a very dangerous team and teams will not want to play against us. We will outplay them. We will outhustle them and we will win games, there is no question about that,” said Melynk. “If you look at how we’ve played in the last four games and that’s still missing four or five guys that are starters. Teams are going to dread playing against us.”
Melnyk said he needs the club to go deep to make up the shortfall in revenues.
“We can make it up. We’ve got to go into the playoffs and at least win a round or two. We’re going to go deep this year if everybody is healthy,” said Melnyk. “Now, people are starting to believe this team can do it. People have got to believe and get behind them. That swagger is going to come back to Ottawa if it hasn’t already.”
Whether GM Bryan Murray is going to be a buyer at the trade deadline hasn’t been decided. Murray has been looking for depth up front. Melnyk is convinced the club has got the right people in place.
“We couldn’t be happier. If you really look at it, take any roster in the NHL and wipe out their top line, wipe out their best faceoff people and best defenceman and then just for fun, take out their two goalies, I mean: Please. What do you expect?,” said Melnyk.
“The fact is this group of players has been able to come back and win four in a row .
“We’re just going to get better and better and better as the season progresses. Then, we’re going to have a nice two-week break for the Olympics. I can’t be happier with this team.”