Just in case the Senators’ fan base needed another reason to light their torches, grab their pitchforks and express their resentment of ownership, Kyle Turris dropped a bombshell of a quote in Vancouver where his Predators will take on the Canucks.
Eugene Melnyk has a long-held reputation for being a very hands-on owner. There’s no questioning Melnyk’s passion for hockey or his love of his Senators, but the level of involvement he regularly displays has earned him the problematic meddlesome label.
Irrespective of your own feelings for the Senators’ owner, there is no question that after reading Turris’ response to a question about his time in Ottawa, Melnyk’s reputation is not going to change anytime soon. If anything, the comments are only going to further enrage a fan base that has endured this 1-10-2 skid and grown tired of their outspoken owner.
Oddly enough however, I don’t have much of an issue with Turris’ comments.
Don’t get me wrong, it sucks to have lost the team’s number one centre and to have paid such a high price to obtain what was believed to be a modest upgrade in Matt Duchene. And absolutely sucks that Duchene’s numbers and the team’s results haven’t been what the team anticipated since making the trade.
Some fans are upset because they are taking the comments literally and interpret it as Melnyk going against the desires of his hockey operations department and refusing to sign off on a Turris extension.
The one point I want to make is that some are discounting the possibility that this may be a situation where “ownership” was used when Turris’ future was likely a casualty of the team’s internal budget. It seems fair to assume that the Senators probably couldn’t afford to re-sign Turris because of the contractual terms he was looking for.
Having already committed to two heinously bad contracts, the Senators could ill afford another.
In truth, there are very rational arguments to be made against signing a soon to be 29-year old centre to a long-term deal when he’s about to enter the stage of his career where his numbers should be expected to decline. It’s not like he was an elite producer, a possession savant or helped tilt the ice heavily in Ottawa’s favour. He was just a good centre who you could count on to provide a good return on the investment in the first two to three years of his deal. And to be fair to the Senators’ position, having taken a cost-efficient and team-friendly deal the last time around, no one could possibly blame Turris for wanting to break the bank and get some long-term security.
Walking away from the kind of contract he was looking for was probably in the Senators’ best long-term interests, especially since the team needs the financial flexibility to give players like Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone the kind of money they will be looking for.
In this instance, I don’t blame ownership for balking at signing off on an extension or not having the resources. If ownership bears any responsibility it’s for passing down its tunnel vision that promotes year-to-year competitiveness at the expense of a sustainable long-term vision. And I blame the hockey operations staff who were complicit in acting on that philosophy and investing significant capital and opportunity costs in players who helped squeeze better players like Turris out.