Ottawa Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk is upset.
You can understand why. On Tuesday night, his club lost their star defenceman, Erik Karlsson, to a brutal skate cut that will likely keep the reigning Norris trophy winner out for the remainder of the season. It's big loss, one that drastically diminishes the Senators' attack. They lead the league with 463 shots, in large part because, at the time of the injury, Karlsson led the league with 63.
Furthermore, it severely damages the Senators' hopes of contending for the Cup in this shortened season.
It's tough to accept, and tougher still considering the injury came via the skate of Matt Cooke, who has something of a spotted history. Cooke will see no discipline for the hit, largely because it was a freak accident, but the Senators and their fans are too busy seeing red to see reason.
On Friday, Melnyk expressed his outrage over the situation and the divisive Cooke's part in it to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun:
Melnyk wondered why Cooke -- who has been suspended five times -- is allowed to play in the league. All this incident did was reinforce Melnyk's thinking.
"This guy should be kicked ... He doesn't belong in the league. He belongs somewhere where the goons play," said an emotional Melnyk. "Get him in the Central league. He can be a $60,000-a-year guy playing pick-up hockey there.
"The guy does not deserve ... He's got one purpose. I remember when this happened with Spezza. I said, 'If these are the rules, I just want to know.' We'll play with the same rules. Make sure you have one or two goons whose job is to do this either intentionally or unintentionally.
I'm going to assume Melnyk meant kicked out, not just kicked, because I don't want to believe he's advocating a retaliatory skate kick. We'll save assuming the absolute worst out of someone without cause for others.
You can understand where Melnyk is coming from. If Cooke had been suspended forever some time ago, Karlsson wouldn't have been cut.
Of course, just because you can understand it doesn't mean it isn't ridiculous.
Cooke's game has changed completely since his suspensions, and Melnyk knows it. Going to character now is disingenuous and, frankly, irresponsible. This is a hit for which no one would be even considering ascribing blame if the skate that cut Karlsson belonged to anybody else (save Raffi Torres).
And let's not pretend that the Senators are some sort of cherubic, goon-free organization. They employ an individual named Chris Neil. You might have heard of him. His ratio of penalty minutes to games played is well over two to one. He's the guy they sent out to go after Cooke following the incident, which is typically the role of the goon.
But, again, Melnyk is outraged. At this point, you could float almost any topic and he'd give you an unreasonably surly quote.
Case in point: Melnyk also discussed his club's attempts to keep Maple Leaf fans out of Scotiabank Place by writing a letter urging Senators' season-ticket holders not to resell to them, a move that was widely mocked. He was not what one might call diplomatic:
"This is a Toronto story," said Melnyk. "Obviously, they have nothing better to talk about. Certainly, not being in the playoffs (since 2004), they are desperate for stories. This is something that's concocted.
"We welcome their fans. We do not welcome any fans that are boorish drunkards and that's not to say that all Leaf fans that come to Ottawa are drunkards, but there are many of them and it's very obvious we want to make sure they know we know who they are.
Yep. Made-up story from a loser media and your fans are drunks.
Someone give Eugene Melnyk a hug.
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