Melnyk uncertain if Senators' home opener will sell out
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

In the words of "Slap Shot" icon Jim Carr, "Good seats are still available."

The Ottawa Senators will open their season on home ice Thursday against the Washington Capitals, but there are no assurances the game will be played before a full house.

Speaking Wednesday with Sportsnet's "Prime Time Sports," Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was unsure if the team's first game of the campaign would bring a maximum capacity crowd to the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata.

"I don't know. We're trying, but if we can't, we can't. What are you going to do?" Melnyk said. "Yeah, we could go out and stand on the corner and sell them for the best price. If we do (sell out), that's great. If we don't, well, it's a long season."

The issue of empty seats has long dogged the Senators, who were unable to sell out postseason contests last year despite the team finishing one goal shy of a Stanley Cup Finals berth.

Last month, Ottawa took aim at its attendance woes by announcing it will remove 1,500 upper-level seats in an effort to create a more intimate crowd at the home rink.

"What's crazy, it's the 'cheapy' seats that don't sell," Melnyk added. "By the way, that's what we covered up. We covered up 1,500 of the cheapest seats in the stadium because they're such an eyesore and people don't want to sit up there."

According to ESPN, the Senators averaged 16,744 in attendance last season, ranking 21st league wide, a figure that falls three spots lower when based on percentage, the worst showing among Canadian clubs.

The Senators feel a move out of suburban Kanata and closer to their greater fan base in Ottawa's city center will improve the box-office performance. The club has submitted a bid to build in the downtown district of LeBreton Flats, and hopes to have a deal in place by early 2018.

In the meantime, fans could also be skeptical to show up Thursday due to the absence of superstar defenseman and captain Erik Karlsson, who won't be in the lineup as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery.

Melnyk uncertain if Senators' home opener will sell out
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