Yesterday Bob McCown interviewed Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk discussing mostly the Phoenix Coyote situation. For the most part it wasn’t a very interesting interview and Melnyk often played dumb claiming he really didn’t know much about the situation. Particularly intriguing was that Melnyk stated he really knew nothing regarding the permission the NHL board of governors gave Bettman in purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes through bankruptcy. He stated he was not at the meeting and knew nothing about anything including the cost, what they would do with the franchise if they gained control of it, who would put up money to pay for it, etc. That seems odd to me considering it may cost him millions of dollars and that he is a relatively involved owner in the Senators team itself. Me thinks he was just playing dumb. Even if he wasn’t at the meeting that granted permission you’d think he’d have received a briefing or at the very least asked a question or two to someone once it became public that the NHL was in fact going to bid on the team.
But the most interesting part of the interview came squeezed in right at the end when Bob McCown asked him a hypothetical question about whether he could block a team wanting to move to Hull (for those who don’t know, Hull is really part of the metro Ottawa area on the Quebec side of the border).
McCown: Do you have the constitutional ability to block that.
Melnyk: I believe we do, yeah, we have territorial rights. Yeah, absolutely.
Maybe Melnyk accidentally let that slip out but that feeds right into the Balsillie argument regarding the Leafs having a veto to any team relocating to Hamilton. If Melnyk and the Senators have territorial rights to Hull and could block a relocation to Hull then the Leafs have the same rights to Hamilton and could block a relocation to Hamilton. Balsillie believes the league voted against him being an owner and are fighting to the end to stop him from getting his hands on the Coyotes and relocating them to Hamilton because the league cannot allow a team to relocate to Hamilton which would violate the Leafs constitutional rights with the league and could result in a lawsuit from the MLSE.
It really was a surprising statement from Melnyk who was generally cautious and reserved about giving out any information on anything important during the rest of the interview.