Eugene Melnyk had some choice words on Friday about the Toronto Maple Leafs and the way they conducted their rebuild, those comments didn’t go unnoticed.
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has never been one to shy away from the spotlight or his critique of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While speaking on Ottawa’s CFRA 580 on Friday, Melnyk decided to take a shot at the Leafs adding more fuel to the Battle of Ontario rivalry.
"“You don’t do a rebuild with a short-term view. You’ve got to have, and it’s tough in sports, a five-year outlook and if you don’t all you’re doing is patching up. I know a team that you know that’s done it for 53 years,” Melnyk said, referring to the Maple Leafs. “They’ve been selling out, but all they do is they’ve been patching up. Finally, they collapsed the team, said ‘We’ve got to a rebuild,’ but mistakes were made and somebody forgot about defence.”"
Good one, Eugene!
During the same interview, he also managed to bash the local media and Ottawa mayor Jim Watson.
The Sens are now preparing for a “five-year run of unparalleled success” that’s set to begin in 2021. However, there’s not much that has gone right for the organization over the past 18 months.
It started with Melnyk shooting his mouth off ahead of the team’s NHL 100 Classic game against the Montreal Canadiens in 2017. The owner stood on the steps of Parliament Hill in Ottawa and, out of nowhere, brought up a possible relocation scenario for the organization while speaking to the press.
"“If it doesn’t look good here, it could look very, very nice somewhere else, but I’m not suggesting that right now,” Melnyk said, according to CTV News."
The Senators will have to hand over their first-round pick to the Colorado Avalanche as a result of the trade to acquire Matt Duchene – who is no longer with the team. They currently sit dead last in the league, which means there’s a chance that they could relinquish the opportunity to draft one of Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko with a top-three pick.
Melnyk has also been in the news for his inability to settle on a deal to build a new arena in downtown Ottawa. The team also relieved head coach Guy Boucher of his duties just days after the trade deadline and GM Pierre Dorion claiming he would remain for thr rest of the season.
In terms of team building, the Sens have a long way to go. The next few drafts will lay out the framework for what their organization will be. They have a first-rounder from Columbus, but that will likely fall outside the lottery.
Ottawa does have two of the best young defensive prospects in hockey in Thomas Chabot and Erik Brannstrom – the latter was acquired through trade. However, their forward prospect pool leaves much to be desired.
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Melnyk is right about the Leafs’ rebuild. They didn’t focus on defence. Instead, they opted for the likes of William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews, who have collectively created one of the NHL’s most potent attacks.
After making the playoffs in 2017 and 2018, respectively, the Leafs began to address their defensive gaps. They selected Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin in consecutive years and signed Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen out of the SHL.
Toronto also has some great future pieces in Mac Hollowell, Filip Kral, Joseph Duszak, and Eemeli Rasanen – who the Leafs selected with the second-rounder acquired from Ottawa in the Dion Phaneuf trade.
A few players currently on the Leafs had something to say about Melnyk’s comments.
"“We’ve got people questioning everything we do,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said, according to Sportsnet’s Luke Fox.“The great thing about our organization is, we’ve got so much fan support because we’ve got all you guys questioning everything we do. I think you get paid to question everything we do. And you (the media) get paid to sell – I think that’s what your jobs are. So, whatever you gotta do, I don’t spend much time worrying about it.“We’ve got an unbelievable owner here in Larry Tanenbaum, and we’re blessed to have him. How’s that?”"
Deciding to criticize a team that is 37 points ahead of you in the standings is an interesting strategy, but the Leafs should have no problem getting over the comments when they’re playing games in the postseason.
What did you make of Melnyk’s comments about the Leafs? Is there anyou valid pointso bright up in his rant? Let us know in the comments below.