The Sports Daily > The 6th Sens
Duthie’s 1-on-1 With Melnyk

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was on last night's pregame show on TSN which kicked off the Red Wings versus Senators game – highlighted by the return of Daniel Alfredsson.

You can watch the video above, but I've transcribed the conversation below.

As always, my words are in bold.

On whether he considered coming to the game versus watching via satellite…

“Absolutely, but I’ve got two little girls who control my itinerary, so I’ve got to dance to their tune.”

I wonder if Melnyk can dance to a tune better than one of Alfie's kids.

On whether the feelings of anger have dissipated over the months since he’s left…

“Absolutely, I don’t think there was ever any anger. It was more, just basically, the shock value of what transpired and that eventually fades away and eventually, you just move on. We have a hockey team that we’re putting together that we want to be a contender. (Players leaving) happens in professional sports and every sport, and you just move on.”

Players leave all the time in professional sports, it just feels like this is one that was completely avoidable. Seeing Alfredsson leave isn't like watching any other good plyaer leave the organization, he was the captain and a legacy player who wanted to stay. But after reneging on a promise to negotiate an extension and refusing to agree to terms that approached the two-year, $12 million numbers that Alfie was seeking, you balked and assumed he would come back to the organization with the last right of refusal. You expected him to come back with the best market offer and the last right of refusal, but when he didn't give you that, you had egg on your face. You took him for granted and made the calculated gamble that his loyalty would cause him to return at a lesser price. But now that he's averaging 0.91 points per game and is on pace to surpass 70 points, he's been worth every penny of the terms that he sought. 

On Alfie leaving the door open to potentially return after he retires…

“Well you know what, I couldn’t really talk about that because it’s kind of… I bet you before I’d leave this building, I’d be getting a call from the Commissioner about tampering. Look, Daniel’s a very special person. He was special to the community. He was special to the team, our fans, to the management, so there’s no ill will. And like I said, if I was there, I’d be going up and giving him a handshake and hugging his wife Bibi and the kids. Look, he’s always welcome in Ottawa and I think he knows that.”

Who would have known that Euge would be a hugger in high-profile games featuring special ceremonies? 

Oh, right. 

On whether number eleven will ever be retired by the organization…

“There’s no question he’s probably the most prominent person that any organization in modern day Ottawa Senators. It’s not a gimme, but I can tell you what, if I was a betting man, I would bet on it.”

I've re-watched the first sentence of Melnyk's answer about eight times now and it just keeps getting more marvelous each and every time I press the play button. On a serious note however, how is this jersey retirement thing not a gimme? Daniel Alfredsson has played in more than 1,200 games and as I pointed out in the Ottawa Senators' game day preview for SenatorsExtra.com, of the players who have played in that many career games, only 23 more players had higher point per game averages than Alfie. He's probably a Hall of Famer and he sure as hell deserves to have his number hanging in the rafters. Why even bother playing coy? 

On the team struggling and whether he’d be willing to take on more salary to make the team better and it being a dollar in for dollar out kind of thing…

“Well, we spend our money very wisely and I think that’s the mantra that we have throughout the entire organization. If there’s a person or a player who we think could make a big difference, then we would, absolutely. But it’s very early in the season. You know, we’re at the quarter pole. And if this was a horse race, I bet you couldn’t tell me who was at the quarter pole in the Kentucky Derby this year, but a lot of horse players who could tell you who would win. So, we’ve got some time. We want to build our team. We’re developing our team and we’re going to continue doing that and I think we were going to do a great job doing it.”

Wasn't My Lucky Day leading at the quarter pole?

Ah well, to management's credit, Bryan Murray has constructed a roster comprised of players who have, for the most part, signed team-friendly contracts. Obviously there are a few exceptions like Milan Michalek or possibly even Colin Greening's extension that kicks in next season, nevertheless, management's done a very respectable job creating a competitive roster on the cheap.