Q&A with Sens owner Melnyk

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:39 AM ET

QUESTION: What are your expectations for this team?

MELNYK: My expectations are that we are going to be an exciting team, were going to have some fun wins and were going to have some losses that we can shrug off because we played well. You know, It is what it is and lets get ready for the next game. Well be a fun, volatile team. Everybody is just going to have a lot of fun, but dont kid yourself, everybody is taking it seriously to win. The nice thing is well be able to see how the players perform in the early games and then see where they are come March.

Q: Do you expect this team to make the playoffs? Or if you make the playoffs, its great and you want to see improvement with the young players?

M: I want to see improvement of the young players. Would I love to get into the playoffs? Absolutely. That would be the most exciting thing for all of the fans. I mean, here we have the youngest team in the league with a lot of spunk, some great veterans and all of a sudden were making the playoffs. Last year, spending to the cap with a lot of veterans and we were just spinning our wheels and didnt get to the playoffs. Whatever today, will be one-fifth of what we will do four to five years from now. If were competitive this year, just imagine where will be four years from now.

Q: You said goodbye to a lot of guys last season. You always believed in spending to the cap. How much of an adjustment of your philosophy has this been for you?

M: It was very difficult because several of the players I was very friendly with. It was tough to say goodbye to them. In the case of Mike Fisher, we could have gotten better deals somewhere else, I just said, Look, he has done so much for the community, I told (GM) Bryan (Murray) to let him write his own ticket. If its Nashville, so be it. Nashville wasnt offering as much as we could have gotten from other teams. But were battle-hardened and were now out to prove that we are going to be an elite team to be feared by our competitors. Where I want to be three years from now, I want the opposition to know if theyre going to play the Senators the next night, theyre going to have a miserable day.

Q: Why will Paul MacLean be more successful than Cory Clouston was?

M: He will relate better to the young players, yet at the same time, I think he will have tremendous respect from the veterans. The difference with him is he will tap into the veterans, getting their input in what they want as opposed to just making decisions. I dont think hes a consensus guy, but I do think hes a very smart guy in that he will go to a person and ask the right questions and take that answer for what its worth. He coached under (Mike) Babcock with one of the most successful franchises in the NHL. He knows what it takes to win. I really believe this (coaching staff) is going to make a difference in our team.

Q: Have you spoken to Daniel Alfredsson and is he 100% healthy.

M: Ill come up to Ottawa a couple of days before the opener and Ill speak to him then. I spoke with him, Chris Phillips and Jason Spezza at the end of the year. They are all totally behind the program. What people have to realize is the level of skill that we have is second to none in the NHL. Youre going to see that get better slowly. Some of that will jump right out of the starting gate to the front like a horse. Were going to have guys that progress year-after-year and game-after-game. The next thing you know, theyre scoring 20 goals a season. People will be saying, My gosh, look at these guys. Im excited about guys like (David) Rundblad, (Jared) Cowen, Mika (Zibanejad) and Stephane Da Costa. Weve got Robin Lehner who is sitting there just champing at the bit to play. If some of the veterans step up like they should and will with all these hungry young players along with great coaching, were going to have success.

Q: Are you disappointed youve had to answer questions regarding the sale of the team and your future?

M: It doesnt bother me at all. What it tells me is some reporters are getting really antsy to get the season started. It was a slow news day, so lets make up a story about Melnyk wanting to sell the team. In a couple of weeks, you wont hear it again for another year and then theyll look to see if Melnyk wants to sell the team again. Its hilarious. Im not going to sell that team. Its what Ive wanted to do all my life. To own an NHL franchise is a privilege that one rarely gets and its not a privilege thats for sale.

Q: Will there be a new scoreboard for the all-star game?

M: Im going to let you hang on that one ...

Q: One last question and its hypothetical. If you are in a playoff position in February and Bryan Murray comes to you to say, If we can get this player, he might be able to put us over the top? Will you spend the money?

M: If Bryan Murray says it, absolutely. The money is not the issue here. This is a rebuilding of personnel. Its a very, very good question. Even if Bryan came to me while we were in a playoff position and said, If I can get this one piece we might be able to get into the second round. If it comes through Bryan youve got to listen to the guy and youve got to say yes.


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