Melnyk's made up his mind on Murray, Clouston

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:43 PM ET

Eugene Melnyk is getting ready to unveil what’s next for the Senators.

The club’s owner told the Fan 590 in Toronto Tuesday he’s decided what direction he’ll take with Bryan Murray and Cory Clouston, but Melnyk wasn’t willing to reveal whether the GM and coach will be back next season.

But he did point out the club had “got rid of all the bad guys.”

Murray and Clouston’s contracts both expire on July 1. It is almost certain Clouston won’t return.

“I’ve been thinking about this since the beginning of the year, since things started going south for us,” said Melnyk, who will be in Ottawa Thursday for the final regular-season home game, against the Montreal Canadiens.

“I thought that on paper, we had a team that would easily go into the playoffs, the discussion was how deep would we go.

“Something went terribly wrong. To pinpoint that on one thing is impossible. I’ve lost sleep. Bryan has lost sleep and Cory has lost sleep. There’s not one thing you can point to say: ‘A-ha, this is what happened.’ It was the perfect storm, everything that could go wrong did.”

Melnyk said he has been pleased with the performance of the kids battling for jobs and praised Murray for the difficult decisions he made in sending players packing at the trade deadline.

Asked if he’s made his decision on Murray and Clouston, Melnyk said: “Yup.”

Was he willing to reveal it? “Nope,” said Melnyk.

He then praised Murray.

“It was really tough. It’s unbearable to finally admit you’re a loser,” said Melnyk. “Once you are in that death spiral, it’s over. One month before the trade deadline, we decided we’ve got to pack it in and rebuild.

“Bryan has done an excellent job in doing that. A lot of GMs would say, ‘I’ve got no guarantee I’m around next year, why should I bust myself and try to do something? I’ll do it for somebody else.’ He did the 180 degrees of that. He did the best he could do. He brought in some fantastic talent.”

Melnyk said he was pleased with Murray signing U.S. college star Stephane Da Costa, acquiring five picks in the June draft and is hopeful the club can “be back in the playoffs next year.”

Told it sounded like Murray would return, Melnyk cautioned the host.

“We gotta be careful. I’m speaking to character as well. We’ve got a lot of good guys,” said Melnyk.

“We’ve got rid of all the bad guys. I’ve put a lot of weight on people who are loyal. That’s hard to find. You’ve got to think before you move in a different direction.”

Melnyk said he also plans to speak with captain Daniel Alfredsson to get more insight on whether he’ll return next season from a back injury.

“I want to see how he feels. Daniel wants to play. Trust me. This guy’s an animal. Nobody plays with more pain than any player I’ve ever seen. He recovers quicker than any player in living memory that I’ve seen,” said Melnyk.

“It’s completely up to him. It would be great to have him. We’ve got four veterans we’ve kept. They are there to mentor the young guys. Daniel would be phenomenal in that role.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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