One day, the plan to develop Downtown Ottawa’s LeBreton Flats into a sports and entertainment hub was said to be in jeopardy. The next, the owner of the Ottawa Senators is tossing around $700-million lawsuits as the project is officially pronounced dead on the scene.
Life sure comes quick, but things seem to move just a little bit quicker (and messier) anytime Eugene Melnyk is involved.
The much-maligned chairman of the Senators is once again making headlines as it was revealed that Capital Sports Management—the group led by Melnyk—is suing Trinity Development Group for a reported $700 million, according to the Ottawa Citizen, over a failed joint venture which would have included a new home arena for the NHL club.
That kind of cake could buy you a whole bunch of Erik Karlssons.
The ongoing spat between Melnyk and chair of Trinity Development Group Inc., John Ruddy came to a head Friday when the Ottawa Citizen reported the lawsuit centred around an alleged conflict of interest on the part of Ruddy and TDG. Consulting and property management company Graham Bird Associates are also named in the suit.
The lawsuit alleges, according to the Citizen, that the project failed, “because of an egregious conflict of interest. That conflict should have been identified and resolved, but instead only worsened over time.”
Melnyk is claiming that Ruddy began construction of a residential property that directly competed with the Lebreton Flats development. The suit also alleges that, “Ruddy and Trinity misused confidential inside information about the Lebreton Project and abused the trust (Capital Sports Management) had placed in them.”
Melnyk and Ruddy’s conglomerates partnered up to form RendezVous LeBreton Group, which was to rejuvenate a 21-hectare chunk of historic land in downtown Ottawa with restaurants, housing, hotels and entertainment venues—including a brand new, state-of-the-art arena which would’ve allowed the Senators to move out of their current home located about a 30-minute drive outside the city’s core.
Needless to say, that project is completely dead now and with it, the Senators uncertain future got even murkier. No new arena in sight means there will be a whole lot more speculating in the coming years about whether the NHL team will remain in Ottawa long term. And you can blame Melnyk for any relocation talks.
There may be no fan base that deserves this less than the Senators. They’ve been absolutely dragged through the mud over the past 18 months with one crazy event after another plaguing the franchise, with this latest news coming in the same month a video recording from an Uber ride showed key players, including Matt Duchene, talking shit about a coach.
Bu there's been plenty more than that. From Eugene Melnyk calling out fans and threatening to relocate the team, to the owner’s unhinged emotion and ego essentially leading to franchise legend Erik Karlsson’s departure from Ottawa in the prime of his career, to the team yielding quite a disappointing return for the superstar after forfeiting all of its leverage, to the dust up between Karlsson and Mike Hoffman and their partners over alleged online abuse, to former assistant GM Randy Lee resigning after being charged with harassment of a bus driver at the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo—it has been an absolute shit storm for Sens fans. They remain trapped in hell.
Oh, and those alleged Twitter bots, too. And I'm sure we are forgetting about something else. Eugene has been on an absolute run, hasn’t he?