With a cavalry of national hockey media in town and all eyes focused on Ottawa as the Senators and Canadiens were gearing up for a celebratory and historic outdoor game at TD Place Stadium, Eugene Melnyk decided to take the radiant spotlight and point it firmly on himself.
The Senators owner held nothing back in unleashing an obviously-planned tirade as a gaggle of reporters huddled around him moments ahead of Sens legends taking the ice for an alumni game on Parliament Hill. Among (many) other talking points, Melnyk essentially called out the team’s fan base for not showing up during playoffs, explained that the clubs’s payroll will likely shrink, and offered a not-so-subtle threat that moving the Senators from Ottawa is a much more likely solution than him ever selling the franchise.
Senators fans from far and wide took exception to the polarizing comments, and rightly so. They come just days after Melnyk cast shame on Erik Karlsson for publicly stating his desire to be paid full market value when (or before) he hits free agency.
Many blame the owner’s frugality and unwillingness to spend near the cap ceiling as the main driving force of the Senators’ plunge towards the NHL’s basement. The most recent remarks have sparked so much outrage, the hashtag “MelnykOut” has been trending on social media platforms as Senators fans and supporters revolt against an owner whom they’ve had a turbulent relationship with for years.
Melnyk made a point not to do any media on Saturday, but the internet certainly didn’t sleep. Here’s a glimpse at the local and national mood on Twitter as #MelnykOut continued to pick up steam even after the puck dropped on the NHL 100 Classic:
All of the Ottawa Senators' highest-profile fans are trying to get #melnykout trending, if you're wondering how things are going.
— James Gordon (@James_J_Gordon) December 16, 2017
— =O=ne Sens Fan (@1sensfan) December 16, 2017
— Daniel Hamm (@hammslicer) December 16, 2017
I’d like to see Bell donate 5 cents to Sens twitter for every #MelnykOut tweet. We could communally own the Ottawa Senators by the end of next week.
— goran (@senssensei) December 16, 2017
A complete ass. The worst owner in the NHL. The Trump of owners. Ottawa deserves better. I hope the crowd chants it today. Go Sens Go!! #MelnykOut
— Evan MacIsaac (@evanxmacisaac) December 16, 2017
Eugene Melnyk just threw his fan base under the bus. Perhaps, the same bus you have to take to get to the next bus which takes you to the third bus that takes you to the games. #Senators.
— Gerry Dee (@gerrydee) December 16, 2017
Just before the outdoor game. Celebrating the league’s 100th Anniversary. That he’s hosting. He threatens to move the team.
This is not a bright man, even for an owner: https://t.co/jktAWrMhPy
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) December 16, 2017
Eugene Melnyk just walked by me. You bet I let him have it. #MelnykOut
— Theo Quatty (@TheoQuat9) December 16, 2017
— Spencer Callaghan (@Senturion) December 16, 2017
— Craig Smith (@Red_Vikreig) December 16, 2017
I hope everybody except for Eugene Melnyk has a great time at the game today. #MelnykOut
— Bonk's Mullet (@BonksMullet) December 16, 2017
Despite the uprising, there’s a strong crowd at TD Place Stadium willing to brave frigid conditions and also help line Melnyk’s pockets.
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