Melnyk gives Sens a call

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk gave team leaders a call. (Darren Calabrese/QMI Agency)

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk gave team leaders a call. (Darren Calabrese/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:04 PM ET

DALLAS — With his team schlepping along in a city known for the hands-on ownership of Jerry Jones (Cowboys) and Mark Cuban (Mavericks), Eugene Melnyk picked up the phone and delivered a little love.

The Senators boss called coach Cory Clouston and four players — Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips, Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza — to let them know he still believes in his favourite sports toy.

“He cares about the team quite a bit, and he just wanted to make sure that, if he can do anything ... to make sure we stay positive,” said Alfredsson, whose team has won just

1-of-9 games since the Olympic break. “It shows that he cares a lot about us and the team as well. He just lives with this as much as we do, goes through the ups and downs as we do. He was talking to us when we were winning, too. He doesn’t just call us when things are going bad.”

The idea for Melnyk to call the coach and team leaders came from GM Bryan Murray.

“I think we’re all the same,” Murray said when asked about the billionaire’s mood in these trying times. “I think Eugene is very much like the rest of us that are involved. You see the team previous to the winning streak, you see the team now, and it’s very similar.

“During the time when everybody was working together, things were happening, we were an awfully good hockey team. Is it frustration, is it not understanding? ... I’m kind of caught a little bit like him too. I think this is a real good hockey team.

“When we play well, we play really well. But I watch the game the other night against Toronto, and it was like we’re playing with no confidence, we don’t move the puck very well, our positioning, where everybody’s trying to do far too much, running around on the ice, not touching the puck ... I’ve talked to (Melnyk) a lot the last couple of days and he’s exactly (in the same mindset).

“He’s a great fan. And as he told me and he told them, I’ll do anything that you need me to do to help get this thing back on track and winning. I don’t know if we can ask for much more than that from him.”

Melnyk, of course, can’t do anything to get the Senators turned around at this point. Neither can Murray.

It’s the players’ mess and they have to clean it up.

“There’s nothing any of us can do other than cheer, hope and talk to them,” said Murray. “And encourage, and point out some things. I’ve had talks with Cory, and I’ve had talks with the players, and all you try to do is pass on a little encouragement and experience, and hope that the players find a way to be a little less uptight, and just go out and play.”

But at this rate, neither Melnyk’s patience nor love will last forever.


Videos

Photos