Melnyk with Senators for long haul

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

Eugene Melnyk will wear his Senators sweater forever.

The Senators owner told QMI Agency’s editorial board before Friday’s home opener against the Buffalo Sabres he’ll never sell the club and he’s discussed the possibility of captain Daniel Alfredsson taking on a front office role when his playing career is over.

“I remember Gary Bettman saying, ‘There are certain owners, you can’t come up with a figure that they would sell their team. It is just something that is not for sale ... ever,’ ” said Melnyk.

“That’s my view. This is not something for me that is a financial play of any sort or anything like that. It’s a passion of mine. I’m actually priviledged to be able to own a team because there are only 30 hockey teams. There’s only so many professional sports teams in North America and I’m one of them. It’s not something I would ever give up.”

Flanked by Senators president Cyril Leeder and GM Bryan Murray, Melnyk said the club has to get to the second round of the playoffs for him to break even.

“We’re not New York or Toronto, but for a market of this size I think we do extremely well,” said Melnyk. “It’s a challenge, but it forces us not to be complacent with the hockey operations.”

While Melnyk covered a lot of areas, one of the most passionate subjects he discussed was Alfredsson’s future with the organization once he’s done playing. The two have already discussed the possibility of a front-office role.

“We briefly spoke about that when we were negotiating his last contract,” said Melnyk. “There would certainly be a role in (the front office) for him, but you don’t know what he wants do. He’s a bit of entrepeneur, I think. You’d have to ask him.

“He’s a quality individual that, in any organization, could play any type of a role he would fit in. Daniel has done so much for this team and has shown what a quality individual he is.

“Whether he wants to choose life outside of hockey, outside of this organization, that’s his own personal choice. But, if he wants to stay with the organization, he can write his own ticket.”

Murray also fired back at the prognosticators who’ve suggested the Senators won’t make the playoffs.

“I don’t think there’s any question in my mind that we have a good hockey team, very competitive hockey team, a playoff hockey team. I’m surprised, but people out there have a forum and they go on there and talk,” said Murray.

He also came to the defence of embattled goaltenders Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliott.

“We’ve got competitive goaltending. I’m watching around the league: There are two or three top guys and after that there’s a lot of goaltenders very similar. I think we’re in that category,” said Murray.

“I’m sorry that all these experts haven’t picked us, but I don’t really care. I think we’re in the No. 4 or No. 5 range and that’s before we drop the puck. Hopefully, we’re a little better than that, but I’d say we’re in that range right now.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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