Despite musing in December about moving his NHL team, Ottawa Senators owner – and new CEO – Eugene Melnyk renewed his commitment to the capital in a letter sent to season ticket holders on Thursday.
In writing, Melnyk acknowledges the Sens’ struggles on the ice this season have frustrated him, but says that his dedication to the team hasn’t wavered.
“Today, I am just as committed to the Ottawa Senators and to keeping them in the City of Ottawa as I was in 2003,” he writes.
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Melnyk avoided any mention of the team’s poor attendance numbers this past season. But during the NHL 100 Classic in Ottawa last December, the empty seats in the Canadian Tire Centre were a clear point of frustration for the owner, who mused publicly about relocating the team if the situation did not improve.
“Here we’re fighting everyday to sell a ticket, honest to God. When you get to the third round of the playoffs and you’re begging people to buy a ticket something’s wrong with that picture so we’re just hoping that changes,” he said at the time.
In the letter, he writes the “passion of our fans in the Ottawa community is unlike any other in the NHL.”
Melnyk also made quick reference to the prospect of a new LeBreton Flats arena in his writing, where a principal agreement on the land transfer was recently reached between the National Capital Commission and the Senators-backed developer group.
He issued a statement in January that said there were still “hurdles” to overcome, but writes in his letter that he will “continue to work towards realizing our vision” for the Senators’ new home.