More Hurdles for Downtown Move, Melnyk Suing Partners
The Senators just can’t seem to get away from the negative headlines in 2018. The latest comes in regards to the long, drawn-out process of the team trying to build an arena in downtown Ottawa, in LeBreton Flats.
Back in 2014, team owner Eugene Melnyk and Trinity Group executive chairman John Ruddy, who is a part owner of the Ottawa Redblacks, became the primary partners of the RendezVous LeBreton Group trying to move the Senators to the downtown location. In January of this year, the RendezVous group was chosen to move ahead with development. But now, it looks like that might not happen.
Field of Broken Dreams: The inside story of how Ottawa's $4B landmark development deal fell to pieces. Latest from me and fine colleagues: https://t.co/zfTNVgtdSv
— Adrian Humphreys (@AD_Humphreys) November 24, 2018
On Nov. 22, the National Captial Commission announced that they have set a date of Jan. 22, 2019 for a deadline to move ahead with the RendezVous group, or with another project. It turns out, the group trying to bring the NHL downtown has an internal conflict between Melnyk and Ruddy, and came to a head Nov. 23 with the announcement that Melnyk will be suing Ruddy for “an egregious conflict of interest.” (From: “Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk suing partner over ‘failed’ downtown NHL arena bid” – Ottawa Citizen – 11/23/18).
In the $700 million lawsuit, it was alleged that Ruddy began developing a housing property that was in “direct competition” with the new arena plans. The housing project is right across the street at 900 Albert Street.
Melnyk and Ruddy will need to figure out their differences if the organization has any chance of moving the home arena to downtown Ottawa. Attendance has dipped in recent years, and moves to downtown arenas can do wonders for organizations. Back in 2017, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman couldn’t stress enough the importance of an inter-city move.
“A new downtown arena is vitally important to the long-term future, stability and competitiveness of the Senators. The process is ongoing, but I think asking Mr. Melnyk or the Senators the status would be more appropriate than asking us. However, we believe there needs to be a solution for the long term.” (From: “NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says Ottawa Senators need a new home” – Ottawa Citizen – 11/20/17).
The move would be huge for the organization for attendance being central in the city rather than 20 to 30 minutes away from most of Ottawa. For now, the future of the Senators moving downtown rests on two businessmen sorting out their differences.
Wideman Trade to Oilers Smart Move for Senators
Has the fire sale in Ottawa started? On Nov. 22, the Senators sent defender Chris Wideman to the Edmonton Oilers for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2020. The 100th overall pick in 2009 was in his fourth season with the team prior to the move, collecting 16 goals and 43 points over 175 games. Wideman never really broke out as the offensive, puck-moving defenseman he was drafted to be and ended up falling down the depth chart this season for the younger Thomas Chabot and Maxime Lajoie.
After missing the majority of last season to a hamstring injury, the Senators still decided to give Wideman another shot, signing him to a one-year, $1-million deal. While Senators might have expected more for the defender, the team actually played this situation well. If the team didn’t resign the 28-year-old, he would have walked away and the team would get nothing. Instead, they signed him to a reasonable deal and then flipped him for a pick. Was that the plan all along? We’ll never know, but it ended up working well for the team.
The other positive on the trade is that promising defender Christian Wolanin gets that much closer to being called up from the Belleville Senators. Ottawa still has seven defenders up in the NHL, but they’ve been carrying eight so far this season. In the AHL, Wolanin has four goals and 11 points through 16 games. To compare, Wideman had two goals and five points through 19 games this season.
Senators News and Notes
- Wednesday night’s game versus the Wild was a night of milestones for the Senators. Forward Mikkel Boedker collected his 300th career point on a slick assist for Chris Tierney’s goal, Tom Pyatt collected an assist on Colin White’s goal for his 100th career point (after going 22 games stuck at 99 points) and Christian Jaros buried his first career NHL goal.
- Brady Tkachuk’s goal against the Stars was his seventh on the season through his first 12 games, which puts him in impressive company. That tied him for most goals through a teenager’s first 12 games since 1988-89. He passes Glen Murray and ties Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Laine.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.