SURVEY MELNYK CALLED ‘STUPID’ GETS GREAT PUBLIC RECEPTION
Readers were both perceptive, candid on what steps Senators must take next
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk called it a “stupid survey.”
That’s probably because he knew what it would reveal.
The ninth and final segment in our Senators post-mortem, our You Be The Boss poll asked fans for their help in pinpointing problems from the most disappointing season in team history, as well as advice on moves to be made going forward. It was received with approximately 5,800 readers filling out the 27-part questionnaire that was online for less than four days.
The poll also appeared in the morning paper on April 9, the day before Melnyk and general manager Pierre Dorion met with season ticket-holders for a series of three town-hall gatherings. During the second session, which was off-limits to the media, Melnyk went on about our “stupid survey ... it’s all, ‘Who do we blame for this? Coach, owner, general manager, players?’
“We don’t blame anybody,” he added. “We look forward. Losers look to blame. They don’t know what to do. In our case, we know what to do.”
On Friday, Melnyk’s Twitter account thanked everybody for their feedback in the town halls, which he suddenly decided to give a name: “Losers Blame Others and Winners Plan To Succeed.”
This is priceless, for at least three reasons.
Real fans of sports teams that have failed miserably don’t sit around a bar or at home or at the office talking about a “plan to succeed.” They are not part of that process. They are angry, and they point fingers. Then they passionately argue about how to rectify the issues.
First, Melnyk blamed Cyril Leeder for not selling enough tickets, which is why the wellrespected franchise co-founder and former president and CEO is no longer with the team. Then he blamed the fans for attendance problems. Then he blamed the media for the “mischaracterization” of his rant on Parliament Hill. And raise your hand if you’re a Senators employee who hasn’t been blamed for one thing or another. Didn’t think so.
Again, what had Melnyk up in arms was the poll’s first question — about who is to blame for his mess — and leading the way with 32 per cent of votes was (surprise, surprise) the owner. Clearly, he saw this coming. Hence, the attempt to discredit the poll. The 5,766 “losers” who answered the question either didn’t like that he gave no mind to what it would do to future game results when he rubberstamped a schedule that was unreasonably jam-packed so the team could go to Sweden, or didn’t like the trading of Kyle Turris (who blamed the owner for no longer wanting him), or the threats to cut player salaries and relocate, or appointing himself CEO/president, or ... ahh, we’re running out of space. Let’s move on to the rest of the poll.
Questions 2, 3, 4, 5 all deal with what you’ve deemed the most pressing priority entering the off-season: finding a way to keep Erik Karlsson. Judging by the results, the majority want the captain re-signed to an eight-year contract worth at least $80 million. Again, no surprise. But don’t hold your breath. Whereas another team might secure the future hall of famer and build around him, the current ownership is asking your patience to stretch “three to five years” after Karlsson is moved, which might in fact wind up being a good hockey trade but will definitely create a customer uproar.
The majority want Matt Duchene offered a four- or five-year extension and Ryan Dzingel asked to accept a two-year bridge deal, which may or may not be enough to prevent the highly skilled forwards from entering the final seasons of their contact. My hunch is both would be more open to those offers if Karlsson was staying.
More of you (42 per cent) want coach Guy Boucher fired, but I’m in agreement with the 39 per cent who believe he should get a chance to start next season, if only because of what he accomplished in Year 1 and there’s no more qualified option available.
If Boucher is dismissed, the fans would like to see Alain Vigneault behind the Ottawa bench. Great choice. Vigneault has taken two different teams to the Cup final in the past eight years. But the extension he signed with the Rangers reportedly will pay him US$4 million in each of the next two seasons. Unless it’s Monopoly money, the Senators won’t pay anywhere close to that. Next.
Ottawa could use a former player as an assistant. Adding Chris Kelly is an idea supported by 52 per cent, even though he has yet to retire or make it known he wants to coach. I agree with the 24 per cent thinking it should be Shaun Van Allen, who was interviewed by Boucher two summers ago and has been coaching Carleton Ravens for eight years.
Tough to argue with the 78 per cent who say Mark Stone should be the next captain if Karlsson is gone, or the 46 per cent who would buy out Marian Gaborik’s contract (in a heartbeat). But the 38 per cent who think the Senators should fix their goaltending problems by trading Craig Anderson are being unrealistic thinking another team would take the soon-to-be 37-year old who is due $4.75 million in each of the next two seasons and no, none of the goaltenders who will be UFAs in the summer appeal to me, either. Therein lies the pickle.
Fans would most like to see the team pursue John Tavares and John Carlson when they hit the market on July 1, but the bidding war on both will be too much for the Senators, I think.
I concur with the majority who think Chris Wideman should be brought back, Collin White will be a third- or fourth-liner in Ottawa next season, Magnus Paajarvi has shown enough to be re-signed as long as it’s with only a small raise, Thomas Chabot can fill the role of a No. 1 power-play quarterback and Christian Wolanin looks like he’s ready to move ahead of Ben Harpur and Freddy Claesson on the depth chart.
But I think when it comes to adding depth, the Senators’ priority is to find some wingers who can score.
And yes, the addition of Daniel Alfredsson would most help management of the team, in whatever capacity, but I don’t think he’s coming back under the current ownership.
Finally, in a straight yes-or-no question, 61 per cent say they would buy more tickets if Melnyk sold the team.
Stupid survey, right Eugene?
We don’t blame anybody. We look forward. Losers look to blame. They don’t know what to do. In our case, we know what to do.
The decision rests with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, front right, but Postmedia’s survey results indicate the most pressing priority is re-signing captain Erik Karlsson.