Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has been an outspoken and sometimes controversial voice in the NHL. At times he seems larger than life. Yet, on Thursday, we were reminded that he is a human being just like us.
Melnyk had been absent from the public eye throughout much of the Senators' historic second half run and into the playoffs. On Thursday, the team released a statement as to why:
Today, the club wishes to share with the hockey community and our fans that Mr. Melnyk has been sick and battling major health issues since mid-January. Since then, his medical care and treatment have been the sole focus for him and his family.
Mr. Melnyk was admitted to hospital three weeks ago as a result of the onset of liver-related complications. He has undergone a comprehensive medical assessment and it has been determined that Mr. Melnyk is in urgent need of a liver transplant.
Finding a donor for an organ isn't as simple as finding a blood donor. The criteria for a match has to be as near perfect as possible in order to reduce possible future complications, such as organ rejection.
More from the Senators statement:
Mr. Melnyk’s family has actively reached out to his close friends and broader family with the hope of identifying someone who could be a “live liver donor”. This process involves the removal of a portion of the living donor’s liver so it can be transplanted into the recipient patient.
The Melnyk family’s efforts have yielded a number of potential donor candidates who have been extensively tested. These efforts continue in earnest but have so far not yielded a suitable donor.
The Senators organization and the Melnyk family are looking for any members of the public who may be interested in being a live liver donor.
(For those interested, more information can be found an the end of the Senators release.)
We don't know the gravity of Melnyk's illness; however, it's difficult not to infer that if he needs a liver transplant quickly, he is very sick.
The number of people waiting for new livers is much larger than the number of available livers, so liver transplant is reserved for people who are critically ill. Some people receive a liver transplant right away, while others spend many months waiting for a liver transplant.
For the Senators franchise, they have been struck with serious illnesses to personnel throughout the last year.
In addition to Melnyk, Senators GM Bryan Murray has been battling cancer since last June. One day before starting the team's playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, they learned of the passing of assistant coach Mark Reeds, also to cancer.
There is nothing quite like the hockey community coming together to back one of their own. It's likely the outpouring of support for Melnyk and his family during this time to be no different.
We send our thoughts and prayers out to Eugene Melnyk. Keep on fighting.
- - - - - - -
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY: