Thursday, August 20, 2009

Balsillie's got nothing on Eugene

Photo courtesy wikipedia and

(alternate headline: "Oh thank God, something happened")

Pretend Hamilton Predators owner Jim Balsillie has cited Senators owner Eugene Melnyk as a case of questionable character among NHL owners.

I suppose ol' Jimmy is using the "but if 'Gene gets one, I should get one too!" defence. But if he's looking at Melnyk as an example of a questionable owner, he won't find ammunition, at least as far as the NHL is concerned.

We're accustomed to terrible professional sports owners here in Ottawa. Ones who threaten to move the franchise on an annual basis, forget to give players their cheques, or suggest that women remove clothing during games as a ploy to boost attendance. Compared to these morons, Melnyk is a saint, and Balsillie's mudslinging will fall on deaf ears in Canada's capital.

I get your point, Jim. NHL owners are not flawless - Melnyk is under investigation by governments in both the United States and Canada for his part in alleged illegal activity when he was CEO of drug-maker Biovail. But when it comes to the Senators, Melnyk has been everything the franchise could have asked for (unless you asked him to fire Bryan Murray two years ago). Melnyk even spearheaded the campaign to bring the World Junior Championships to Ottawa last year.

Melnyk took a financially troubled franchise, and injected not only money and stability, but a will to win and an aggressive attitude, while maintaining community ties and generally improving the franchise (in all ways but the win column, recently).

I think that Canadians are generally in favour of having another NHL team within its borders. We are the originators of hockey, and still its most passionate fans. Not only does Hamilton deserve a franchise, but so do Quebec City and Winnipeg. Undoubtedly, a new team in Canada would flourish, but Balsillie's taking his anger out on the wrong targets.

When it comes to bashing the franchise decisions of the NHL, he'll find great support amongst frustrated Canadian hockey fans. But if his sights are set on Melnyk, Jim should aim to become like Melnyk (who should have proven to be a great ally in Balsillie's struggle to become an NHL owner), and not his opponent.

Steve Yzerman is a hero and Dany Heatley's a wimp

Yzerman continues to demonstrate why he was a great captain for more than two decades in Detroit. He arranged a press conference so that Dany "speak no evil" Heatley could finally explain to the fans and reporters why he went all loco and demanded a trade out of Ottawa. It will be good for both Team Canada (who are better off with Heatley), and the Senators (who may be better off without him).

Listen to this:
“It has to be addressed. We’ll get it done. Obviously, it will be a hot topic for one day. Everybody get it out of the way. Everybody ask the questions that need to be asked. Dany, answer those questions. And everybody move on.”
I'll give you one guess who said that. Clue: He's a hero (and has a scary eyeball).

PS: I think it's safe to say that Heatley won't be traded in the next 48 hours (two weeks ago).
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