Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has remained very quiet on the direction of the team this summer, a curious approach given all the dysfunction that the club and its fans have endured over the past year or so.
However, Melnyk finally broke his silence on Monday, and he did so in an incredibly bizarre fashion.
Late Monday night, the Senators official Twitter account posted a video of Melnyk sitting down with defenseman Mark Borowiecki to answer questions about the team's future. In the awkward five-minute video, Melnyk is quite honest about the current state of the team.
"Right now, we're kind of in the dumpster," he said.
Maybe a little too honest?
Early on in the interview, Melnyk shuts down the idea of the franchise being relocated.
"Some people in town have been talking, 'Oh he may move the team.' First thing's first, I'm going to stick around here for a long, long time," Melnyk said. "I'm not going anywhere. And the franchise is not going anywhere."
It's important to note that one of those "people in town" who had suggested that Melnyk might move the team was Melnyk himself, less than a year ago.
But the crux of the video comes when Melnyk openly discusses plans to enter a rebuilding period, implying that there will be a significant roster overhaul in Ottawa.
"I think there are a few things we're hoping to accomplish," Melnyk says. "I think what our fans are looking forward to and what I'm looking forward to is a season that is fresh and brand new, something that we can look forward to with young players coming in."
"That's what our rebuild is going to be. This coming year, we're going to have 10 out of the 22 players [that] are going to be new – meaning they are either rookies or maybe they played under 10 games last year," explained Melnyk. "And then the following year, it's going to go up to 15 of the 22 – maybe 16. So that's a total turnover -- which is what exactly should be in a rebuild."
The Ottawa Senators are proud to share the vision for the future of our team and this organization. We are about to launch an exciting plan to rebuild our team and we are inviting you to be a part of our rise to new heights. #OttawaRising pic.twitter.com/hok2jYCUVi— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) September 11, 2018
Suggesting that two-thirds of next season's roster will be rookies and/or fresh faces is rather bold. It seems to imply that players are going to be shipped out of Ottawa pretty rapidly in the coming year.
Maybe the most significant aspect of Melnyk's new plan is that it essentially guarantees that the team will trade star defenseman Erik Karlsson, who is entering the final year of his current contract. Karlsson's departure from Ottawa has seemed likely dating back to last season's trade deadline, when he was the subject of heavy trade chatter, but now it seems like a foregone conclusion.
With the team making little progress on a Karlsson extension and now officially heading into a rebuilding period, it seems fair to expect the defenseman to be traded sooner rather than later. The longer they wait, they more leverage they lose. It's surprising that he's even with the team this close to preseason.
In any case, it comes as no surprise that this video didn't really go over well among Senators Fans. Not only was it essentially a late news dump, it also starred Melnyk, who is basically despised among the Sens' fanbase at this point. It didn't go unnoticed that Melnyk chose to allow Borowiecki to play interviewer rather than taking questions from ... you know ... an actual reporter.
This is so weird lol why is borocop there to begin with— DAN (@dantheman1124) September 11, 2018
(A relatively insignificant but still humorous tidbit of the video: Melnyk is wearing a Reebok version of the Senators' jersey. The NHL switched to adidas prior to last season.)
Considering how tumultuous the past year has been for the Senators, it seems fitting that even their "don't worry, we got this" announcement is a total mess. The team is currently in an incredible state of disarray, having emerged as the clear front-runner for the prestigious "Biggest Clown Show In Hockey" award over the past year.
In case you need a refresher, here's a taste of what's gone down in Ottawa over the last year or so.
- Daniel Alfredsson -- one of the most beloved players in team history -- abruptly quit his role as an executive (on the opening day of free agency, no less) due to his deteriorating relationship with Melnyk. He later campaigned publicly for the team to get a new owner.
- The team has had trouble filling their building during games, even during the playoffs. Prior to last season, they announced a a seat-reduction plan to mask the number of empty seats in the upper bowl.
- Just before Ottawa hosted the NHL 100 Classic outdoor game this past season, Melnyk threatened to move the team somewhere else if the city wouldn't cooperate in funding a new arena.
- Senators assistant general manager Randy Lee was and sexually harassing a 19-year-old male shuttle driver. Lee later resigned.
- , the fiancee of Karlsson's Senators teammate Mike Hoffman. They alleged Caryk carried out a relentless cyber bullying campaign against the Karlssons, including social media posts about the couple's stillborn son. Hoffman was later traded.
- The team is reportedly struggling mightily to sell season ticket packages.
On top of all that, the Senators have plunged in the standings. After finishing as Eastern Conference runner-up in 2017, the Sens were one of the worst teams in the league last season. They don't appear poised to be much better this year. Making matters worse, they don't even own their own 2019 first round draft pick, meaning tanking this year doesn't really help them in the lottery.
In short, it hasn't exactly been a whole lot of fun in Ottawa, and things don't appear to be on a rapid upswing.