The future of a successful Ottawa Senators lies with a new team owner.
That, according to former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is what he and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson collectively believe in. Who knew Watson and Alfredsson were such good buddies?
Alfredsson was the “surprise” guest at Sunday’s campaign kickoff for Watson – offering his support as the mayor seeks a third term in office. Turns out – according to Alfredsson – both he and Watson are hoping the Ottawa Senators get a new team owner – and can say goodbye to its present owner Eugene Melnyk.
Alfredsson made the admission in an interview with On the City, From the Burbs at Watson’s campaign kickoff.
“We’ve talked a lot, we’ve talked about the future of the Senators and of its ownership and we agree,” he said.
And just what do they agree on?
“We hope we get a new owner,” the former captain said.
Small wonder that behind closed doors it appears Watson and Alfredsson have hoped for a new owner – much of the rest of the city has been doing the same for quite some time now. Few will blame Watson or Alfredsson for hoping for someone better for Ottawa. Though of course, Watson is trying to mend a bad relationship with Melnyk, so this isn’t something he’d be happy about getting out.
Perhaps after seeing my eyes bulge out, Alfredsson realized he might have said too much. Well, guess that all depends on your point of view. Melnyk doesn’t have a lot of fans these days. He seems to delight in crying wolf and the citizens of this lovely city are tired of it. He’s threatened to take the team and go elsewhere. He’s insisted for years he can’t afford to keep the team, that he needs a bigger venue to attract more fans in the stands. And then, when he is part of a winning bid to redevelop Lebreton Flats and build a better arena – something he said he desperately needed – he began to backtrack. Maybe he wouldn’t move the team, maybe the team should just stay in Kanata. Seems he loves to threaten. Ottawans, not so much.
]And when Melnyk realized his own lack of popularity was hitting near bottom, he went on what appeared to be a public relations tour to win back Ottawa fans. Didn’t he start that in Toronto?
Back to my bulging eyes. After admitting both he and Watson are hoping for a new owner, Alfredsson said the comment was off-the-record. Frankly, I was taken off guard. In the world of off-the-record, the terms of the interview are agreed upon before anything begins.
As a columnist, I go off-the-record all the time. It’s key to being a columnist, to get an understanding of what’s really going on, of hearing the truth without the person being interviewed in fear of being reported on. But you can’t change the rules of the game part way through an interview.
Watson of course is well aware of the rules and has an understanding of what he can and can’t say and when he can do that. He and I have gone off -the-record countless times. No surprise that when asked about his alleged desire to see a new owner, Watson did his best tap dance. He didn’t let himself be pinned down about whether he’d actually shared that with Alfredsson and he would only say he had no say about who the owner is – but would do what he could to see a new NHL arena at Lebreton Flats.
Then Watson said Alfredsson told him he didn’t know he was talking to a reporter. Well, that’s hard to believe. If Alfredsson, whom I’ve interviewed several times, didn’t know I was a reporter, why would he have suggested after the interview his comments were off the record? Don’t buy it. But it really does’t matter. In the world of social media, anyone and everyone has access to getting the truth out – whether it’s through standard or social media. And the truth is, Alfredsson and Watson are right. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope the Ottawa Senators get a new owner.
Former Ottawa mayor Jim Durrell was on hand to support Watson’s bid for re-election. Told Alfredsson said both he and the mayor were hoping for a new team leader, Durrell’s response was typically to the point.
And there’s the truth.