Senators owner: 'We’ve got a tough job to make hockey work in Ottawa'

9:19 PM

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk made an appearance on Sportsnet 590 on Tuesday, addressing, most notably, the team's somewhat dicey financial situation.

Melnyk admitted that being based in a government city – Canada's capital, for the geographically challenged – makes it hard for the team to be successful off the ice.

We’ve got a tough job to make hockey work in Ottawa, but we’re trying to make it work. We are a very regional market. Our biggest employer in the city can’t buy tickets, nor can they buy tickets or give tickets. The number two biggest employer is the city (of Ottawa) and they can’t buy tickets or give tickets. We’re number 29 out of 30 of corporate opportunities and it is not easy.

As result, according to Melnyk, the club's ability to spend on players is limited, at best.

We have a fan base that is price sensitive, so we came up with a plan and I think our plan is working and that (plan) is: you don’t have to keep throwing crazy money to put together a team. Put all of your money into good scouting, good development, bring these kids up and make your own superstars instead of buying them.

Melnyk added he's ready and willing to increase payroll, if the team is well-positioned to win.

I’m prepared to spend a lot more money if we were competitive – if that makes the difference going deep into the playoffs, it makes it all worthwhile. So I’m there for it. I’m ready to spend the money. We need to spend it smart, that’s all.

The club appeared to be on the rise after a second-round playoff appearance in 2013, but took a step back last season and jettisoned star center Jason Spezza back in July. 

Heading into training camp, the Senators have upwards of $14 million in available cap space, with both forward Bobby Ryan and defenseman Marc Methot currently negotiating contract extensions. 

Unfortunately for fans, the Senators appear stuck in a chicken-egg situation, hoping the team can succeed on a limited budget in order for Melnyk to loosen the purse strings and invest more heavily in the roster.

[H/T The 6th Sens]

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Marc DesRosiers