Wel­come to the CTC: Where some seats have no name

Sens hope to end empty seat trend by cut­ting ca­pac­ity

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Front Page -

Ottawa Se­na­tors owner Eu­gene Mel­nyk be­lieves less could mean more.

Tired of see­ing too many empty seats, the NHL club has made the de­ci­sion to re­duce ca­pac­ity at Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre by 1,500 to about 17,000. Rows in the up­per bowl have been cov­ered with tarps.

The team strug­gled to sell out the building last sea­son, even in the play­offs

“The at­ten­dance shifts have been dra­matic over a pe­riod of two decades,’’ Mel­nyk told re­porters Thurs­day. “The whole trend now is less seats and more clubs and frankly smaller sta­di­ums.

“When you look at things like a new sta­dium down­town, we’re not go­ing to build a 20,000-seat sta­dium. It will prob­a­bly be closer to 15,000-17,000 in there.’’

Mel­nyk and team pres­i­dent Tom Anselmi wouldn’t re­veal sea­son ticket num­bers but the two are hope­ful that by re­mov­ing seats fans will feel the need to pur­chase sea­son tick­ets with the po­ten­tial of there be­ing fewer tick­ets avail­able on a walkup ba­sis.

Mel­nyk did say ticket sales for the out­door game against the Montreal Cana­di­ens on Dec. 16 at TD Place have been brisk.

“This is prob­a­bly the most ex­cited I’ve been ever as an owner of the team,’’ Mel­nyk said. “There’s just so much go­ing on.’’

Mean­time, GM Pierry Do­rion con­firmed cap­tain Erik Karlsson won’t be back in time for the start of the sea­son. The star de­fence­man un­der­went surgery in late June to re­pair torn ten­dons in his left foot and at this time has no timetable on his re­turn.

“The first step for Erik will be skat­ing and we think that will hap­pen within the next two weeks,’’ said Do­rion. “Once he starts skat­ing we’ll have a better idea of when he’s ready.’’

Do­rion is hope­ful Der­ick Bras­sard, who un­der­went right shoul­der surgery, will be ready to play early in the sea­son. Bras­sard has re­sumed skat­ing.

“We feel re­ally com­fort­able that with Der­ick he’ll be close to play­ing when the reg­u­lar sea­son starts,’’ said Do­rion. “We don’t know un­til he has con­tact.’’

In both cases, the Se­na­tors have no in­ten­tion of rush­ing ei­ther player’s re­turn.

“The sea­son is a marathon,’’ said Do­rion. “We’re not go­ing to take any shortcuts for some­one not to be as close to 100 per cent, not as close as per­form­ing at their best just for some­one to get into the lineup a week into the year if they’re not ready. We’re go­ing to do things right.’’

Do­rion be­lieves the team has enough depth to sur­vive what­ever length of ab­sence will be nec­es­sary. If any­thing the ab­sences could cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for others.

The Se­na­tors GM said he was con­sid­er­ing ex­tend­ing a cou­ple of Pro­fes­sional Try­out op­por­tu­ni­ties to some play­ers as they open train­ing camp next week.

Do­rion knows ex­pec­ta­tions will be high for the Se­na­tors right from the start af­ter last year’s run to the Eastern Con­fer­ence Fi­nals and says the team is fully pre­pared.

“I think it’s very im­por­tant for us to build upon what we did last year. I think it’s im­por­tant for our or­ga­ni­za­tion, our fan base and more im­por­tantly for the play­ers.’’

i think it’s very im­por­tant for us to build upon what we did last year.

Pierre do­rion

The Cana­dian Press

Se­na­tors owner Eu­gene Mel­nyk wants less seats in the Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre

GETTY Images

Julio Jones

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