It's happened, everyone. It's finally happened.
After months of organizational carnage which included an unrepairable riff with a franchise defenceman, publicly calling out of the team's own fans, cringeworthy quote after cringeworthy quote on a number of topics, and even a threat to relocate the team, Eugene Melnyk has finally, officially, gone off the deep end of absurdity.
The Ottawa Senators owner has given some bizarre interviews and soundbites over his polarizing tenure, but his latest—an awkward yet fascinating one-on-one sitdown with Sens defenceman Mark Borowiecki—is a whole new level of fuckery.
Like, what the hell is this?
A video that was, for some reason, released at 10 PM on a Monday night garnered the exact type of reaction one would expect from something so outrageous.
A bottom-pairing defenceman interviewing the owner of the team he currently plays for, in a "Between Two Ferns" style setting for a solid six minutes. An interview that was intended to be circulated through the media and blasted out on the team's own social channels for hype purposes.
This video isn't a parody, it was actually meant to be good.
It was surely intended to ease the minds of a skeptical fan base while stirring up some positive publicity for a franchise that most have pegged to finish near the bottom of the NHL standings this season. The video, however, is a trainwreck and has predictably yielded the exact opposite result. Classic Melnyk, if you will.
Let's breakdown this gem, shall we?
(Of note: Melnyk's old-school Reebok sweater that he's rocking is at least two generations old and likely from between 2008 and 2011, as the observant Jeff Veillette pointed out. The dude couldn't even wear an updated jersey for his own hype video. That budget may be even tighter than we thought.)
"Right now, we're kind of in the dumpster," Melnyk says not a minute into the interview.
That right there is called truth. This is easily the most accurate statement of this odd video, and one that pretty much paints a perfect picture of the current state of the franchise.
After babbling on about fresh starts and new seasons and blah blah blah, Melnyk asked Borowiecki, "How's the dressing room?" (just great, Eugene!) to which the Sens defenceman flipped it back, saying he was going to ask Melnyk the same question. Awkward. He then asks what the owner plans to do to help the strong personalities of the team mesh going forward.
This is where shit gloriously started rolling downhill in a real hurry. To that question—the one about the dressing room and team chemistry and outside influences helping with it all—Melnyk transitions immediately into a completely different topic and touched on the relocation rumours that have been swirling around the franchise for the better part of a year.
"Some people are talking in town that, 'Oh he may move the team,'" Melnyk starts.
"Let me tell you something—first thing's first, I'm going to stick around here for a long, long time. I'm not going anywhere," he states, producing what I'm sure wasn't a forced smile by Borowiecki.
"And number two, the franchise isn't going anywhere. That's like totally solid. So everyone can get rid of the noise."
Hmmmmm, those damn pesky rumours started by the ol' town folk. If only we could pinpoint the source of these fallacies. Oh, yeah, right, Melnyk started these rumours HIMSELF. He threatened to move the team. That was him. And it was a threat he made last December before the team's outdoor game against the Canadiens to celebrate the NHL's 100th anniversary.
Everyone still remembers, dude. It just happened.
The two then went back and forth on how important leadership is going to be to Ottawa's rebuild, which is true, and also shows how fucked they are. Team captain Erik Karlsson is clearly on his way out as trade rumours continue to gain steam, while the team's former assistant GM, Randy Lee, recently stepped down over sexual harassment charges.
Veteran Mark Hoffman was shipped out because his girlfriend is allegedly a Looney Toon and reportedly harassed Karlsson and his wife throughout last season, while there's absolutely no sign that the team's only other two good players, essentially, in Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, are going to negotiate extensions with the team before they become free agents next summer. Leadership, baby.
And it keeps getting better. Melnyk plans to complement that leadership with a young group of prospects, saying they are loaded up with draft picks for the next four-to-six years. Interesting theory from Gene here, but again, very false. The Senators have added a couple late-round picks for 2019 and 2020, while sacrificing picks from earlier rounds, and don't have a damn first-round pick next year in a season where they could easily finish last in the NHL and have a legit shot at drafting a franchise cornerstone with the No. 1 overall selection.
That pick is going to Colorado as compensation for Duchene, who is more than likely jetting Ottawa as a free agent this summer. What a beautiful disaster. Melnyk capped the exchange off with the most perfectly-awkward sentiment, saying, "I think this coming year, we're going to have ten out of twenty-two players [who] are going to be new—either rookies or they've played maybe under ten games last year. And then the following year, it's going to go up to about fifteen of the twenty-two, maybe sixteen."
Essentially, Melnyk just told his own player, the man interviewing him, that his job is very much in jeopardy. Right to his face.
In Eugene we trust.