Monday, May 13, 2013
The Melnyk Show Threatens To Cloud Sens/Pens Series
For everyone's sanity everywhere, let's hope this doesn't turn into the "Eugene Melnyk" show.
Round One for Ottawa was defined by Michel Therrien's "no respect" tirades, (or "no rispeck" as they came to be known on Twitter) and it seemed to snowball into a lot of people having an easy laugh at the expense of the proud Montreal organization with the Habs melting down both on and off the ice. Brandon Prust and P.K. Subban followed the lead of their unhinged coach with bizarre statements to the press and screaming at teammates on the ice. Even poor Carey Price, a very likeable and elite athlete, remained in an almost terrorized emotional state after the series, telling the media "I don’t even go to the grocery store anymore. I hardly do anything anymore. I’m like a hobbit in a hole."
In short, it was endless distractions from within and without that prevented Montreal from getting back on track in that series. They probably wouldn't have beaten Ottawa anyways but it shouldn't have looked that bad.
Yet for Ottawa, the tables might be turning a little here as they enter Round Two against Pittsburgh. Suddenly the cameras and the microphones are rushing over to their side, almost entirely because Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has a "thing" with the Penguins.
Whenever Melnyk speaks, there's a fallout. He tried to ban Montreal and Toronto fans from the Ottawa rink and he was ridiculed everywhere. He's running some sort of secretive forensics investigation into Matt Cooke's accidental skate slash on Erik Karlsson's Achilles tendon - a story you all know too well for me to bother recounting here - and it's bringing Sens fans more grief from all corners.
Now he's attacking Penguins fans on Twitter with this beauty:
Now, I'm sure Melnyk is genuinely disgusted with the crap he gets in his Twitter feed. Anyone who's spent even 15 minutes on Twitter loses a little of their optimism for the human race. But Melnyk is just feeding the fire here, turning the focus onto him when he's got two perfectly capable hires in Bryan Murray and Paul MacLean who know what to say and when to say it during a playoff series.
This doesn't necessarily relate back to the Matt Cooke obsession he has, but it's all part of the same narrative. The conspiracy theory angle never works. Just ask the Vancouver Canucks how their never-ending beef with the officiating worked for them. Ask Michel Therrien how his "no respect" rants worked against his team. Playing the "eternal victim" is an unwinnable game.
The Senators story this season is incredible - overcoming injuries that would have destroyed most teams, and battling their way to the second round by taking down an original-six franchise that still has a huge grip on a large section of NHL fans in the capital city.
Ottawa players doesn't need Melnyk to come to their rescue right now. They don't need to talk about Matt Cooke after every game, every practice. They don't need it to be brought up. They have things under control.
Melnyk is a passionate, opinionated owner who's undoubtedly committed to NHL hockey in Ottawa. For that he gets everyone's eternal thanks. But there is a line that can be crossed where his intensity becomes a distraction.
Beating the Penguins will be tough enough for the Senators without Karlsson and Daniel Alfredsson having to answer questions about Melnyk after every game.