The National Hockey League can understand Eugene Melnyk’s disappointment with empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre. While the Ottawa Senators’ owner vented Friday night to the media and even suggested he’d consider moving the franchise if the situation became a “disaster”, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Postmedia in one-on-one interview Saturday the club can’t just pick up and moving to another city. Frustrated with the empty seats in Kanata after advancing to the East final last spring against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Melnyk told reporters if the picture got any worse he’d have to consider moving the franchise, but Daly doesn’t believe that’s anywhere close to becoming a reality. Speaking before Saturday’s 100 Classic between the Senators and Montreal Canadiens at Lansdowne Park, Daly maintained the NHL considers Ottawa a strong marketplace and is confident everything will be fine here. “Having heard what (Melnyk) said, he certainly didn’t say he was relocating the franchise and, quite frankly, I don’t think he even came close to saying that,” said Daly Saturday. “The way I read that is, nothing’s out of the question. We hope that all the right things are done and this team is here for a long time in the right facility. “But you’d be silly as a businessman to rule out any alternatives.” Daly knows the reality Melnyk couldn’t move the franchise without approval from the league. “I think it was exaggerated in terms of the significance of the comments,” said Daly. ” I’d also say it’s very important to understand that everything that’s done in the NHL, vis-a-vis franchises and potential relocations are done through the board of governor and 30 other franchises. “No individual owner has the ability to say he’s leaving a market and going to a new market. That is ultimately a decision for the board of governors.” Yes, teams have moved during commissioner Gary Bettman’s 25-year tenure with the league, but he has worked hard to maintain franchises in their marketplace. The Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes and the Senators — in 2003 by Melnyk — have all been sold out of bankruptcy to stay where they are.
Daly: Senators' lagging attendance is head-scratching
Ottawa Sun | Dec 16