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Disappointed Sens owner says “we should be playing hockey by now”

Nov 1, 2012, 1:21 PM EDT

Eugene Melnyk Getty Images

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is worried that fans may abandon the NHL just like he abandoned baseball after the 1994 World Series was canceled due to a work stoppage.

“Back in ’94, I was a rabid baseball fan, I’m talking like a 40-45 game guy when I still lived in Toronto, I saw the World Series and (the Blue Jays) winning it, went to Atlanta; I was a crazy, crazy baseball fan and after the strike I was gone,” Melnyk said Wednesday on Sportsnet radio. “(I’m) extremely disappointed like any fan of where we are, we should be playing hockey by now. Everybody knows it, and we’re not.”

Unlike the NHL, which recovered relatively well after the 2004-05 season was lost due to a lockout, Major League Baseball was hit hard by fan anger after 1994. Average attendance fell from 31,612 to 24,260 and didn’t return to pre-strike levels for years.

“It was tough. There was a lot of anger everywhere, particularly amongst our fans,” MLB commissioner Bud Selig said in 2004. “It was the eighth work stoppage, so it had been building up for a long time. The sport came to a crashing halt.”

The Senators haven’t been afraid to say they’re pushing the NHL for a speedy resolution to the lockout. Two weeks ago, team president Cyril Leeder admitted they were “encouraging the league to try to make a deal as quickly as possible.”

Related: Three big reasons the fans might not come back

  1. irokkit - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    I wonder how much Betman is going to
    Fine this guy? Lol.
    He just defied the komish. Lol I love it!!! Betman lost the players, is losing the fans, now he’s losing his governed body. Mutiny boys f’n MUTINY!!!!!!!!

    When the log rolls over… we’re all gonna die! WHEN THE LOG ROLLS OVER… WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!

    That is the sound of the flies on a log of turd floating in the toilet bowl. Betman is the fly. The players are the log and the fans are the water.

    Down with Betman!

  2. crosberries - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    I really like this guy

  3. eyeh8goodell - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    This is the second time he’s spoken out. Gary does not have unanimous support. From the beginning the word was that this was a very fractured ownership group and that the lockout was every bit as much owner vs owner as it was owner vs player.

  4. antkowiak666 - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    i love the way both the owners and players have been saying that “we should be playing hockey by now”.i think by the time they decide to actually play,noone will even really care anymore!!

  5. hosewater2 - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    “Eugene, Gary is holding for you on Line 1, he sounds ticked.”

  6. lasapien - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    So do something. Call up Betman and the other owners, set up a meeting, and get the ball rolling. These guys procrastinate worse than college students and sit around complaining. If they were truly working they’d be done by now.

  7. jmbates10 - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Bingo……i’ve written here before that the NHL i slowly becoming irrelevant and he is absolutely correct. They better get their respective and collective acts together in a hurry.

  8. timmons94 - Nov 1, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Amen. This is not Gary folks. A few owners pulling his strings. He is doing his job. He works for the owners. Good for senators owner. Amen

  9. rpiotr01 - Nov 1, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    I don’t know how many times it needs to be said, but owners MUST concede one point – current contracts will not be altered. They can negotiate from there but until they move on that point there will be no movement on talks.

  10. id4joey - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    GB doesn’t need the owners to be 100% behind him to declare a lockout. However, according to TSN, he does have it.
    Sept. 13
    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the owners voted unanimously to support a lockout, if necessary.

  11. jimw81 - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    There goes owner’s unity. crackling one by one. it goes to showsyou how this lockout is being run by bettman, daily and 6 owners.

  12. jaybird22seven - Nov 2, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    This lockout is only for Gary and the three or four owners not making money. And if Gary isn’t bright enough to figure out that if you have a team in a non hockey market it’s not going to make money!!!! Why should the rest of the league have to support the likes of a team such as Phoenix ?

  13. spicyjimbolaya - Nov 2, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Brutal honesty, the biggest bunch of whiners in the whole situation are the FANS.

    You know why? Because the NHL has experienced RECORD revenues! And that’s AFTER canceling a whole season only 8 years ago! And without a major network TV contract. And with struggling teams south of the border.

    That’s why they are still locked out. They know the CHUMPS will always come back and come back huge.

    • lordfletcher - Nov 2, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      as I understand your point, MLB has shown that isn’t the case. Have you seen MLB’s ratings since their lockout ??? The World Series this year was the worst rater ever (I believe) and shows like the X-factor and probably the Kardashians do better. I am sure the growth of the NFL has had most to do with the lack of popularity in MLB but that’s impossible to know…..Obviously Canada will always support their sport but the NHL is doing a number on corporate USA and we all know that is the main resource in the worlds economy. They (some owners and Gary) can push this lockout down our throats as much as they want / can but eventually they will reach a point of no return for the casual fan and corporate dollars for the lower 25 states. How many kids are not watching Hockey now and not becoming fans for the first time of the sport. How many fathers are not taking those kids to the games… how many kids won’t grow up diehard fans ??? and so on and so on. This has only been a few weeks, but I bet you the trickle-down effect is VERY costly!!!!!

      Again, Canada and Minnesota / NY / Boston / and the other obvious areas and fans will always continue to watch but that only makes up a fraction of the entire pie.

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