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Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk 'not embarrassed' by low payroll

12/15/2014 05:03 EST | Updated 02/14/2015 05:59 EST
OTTAWA - Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk says he has no reason to feel embarrassed about his team's lack of spending.

Ottawa's payroll of US$55,804,597 is the lowest in the NHL leaving them plenty of room to spend, but don't expect Melnyk to open his wallet any time soon.

"I'm not the least embarrassed about us spending at the bottom," Melnyk said Monday afternoon at his 11th annual charity skate for kids. "I'm happy about it because we'll be able to spend more in the future and some can't. Some are stuck."

That being said, Melnyk is in no rush to increase his team's payroll despite his team's current position outside the playoff picture.

The Senators are 11th in the Eastern Conference at 12-12-5 and would need to make some significant improvements to move into the top eight.

Melnyk said he and general manager Bryan Murray spoke as recently as Monday morning.

"We're not in any way restricted," said Melnyk. "(Murray) has not come back to me and he said there's nothing out there that he could actually spend money on."

That's not to say the Senators aren't prepared to increase their payroll. With a number of players facing restricted free agency this summer Melnyk says they won't have any choice but to spend.

For now, however, it appears the Senators will wait and see if its recent coaching change has any impact on the team's fortunes.

The Senators fired head coach Paul MacLean last week and promoted Dave Cameron, who had been an assistant, to take over the coaching duties.

Many assumed Cameron was Melnyk's choice seeing as the two share a long history.

"Let's get this straight once and for all," Melnyk said. "(Murray) makes the decisions. I stay out of the hockey operations, because otherwise if I get myself involved in that then I can't come out and point the finger at anybody."

Melnyk said he was consulted on the decision to fire MacLean, but left the final decision up to Murray.

"I just let him do his thing," Melnyk said.

Melnyk and Cameron have known each other since 2001, when Melnyk purchased the OHL's Toronto St. Michael's Majors while Cameron was the team's head coach.

"I think he's going to do great otherwise I don't think he would have been selected as being the next coach," Melnyk said. "He's patient, he's a hard worker, not to say Paul wasn't a hard worker — he was. If you add together hard work and I think a great attitude and the respect of the dressing room all together I think he'll do well."

Melnyk also addressed the possibility of building a new arena closer to Ottawa's downtown core.

The National Capital Commission launched a request for proposals to redevelop as much as 21.4 hectares of land at LeBreton Flats, a few blocks west of Parliament Hill.

One criteria for the redevelopment proposal is the inclusion of "an attraction of a regional, national or international significance" that is also a "world-class capital destination."

"It's very premature even to talk about this as we haven't even decided we're going to do this," said Melnyk. "There's a request for qualification and we haven't submitted one yet, we have until Jan. 7, but if we're going to do it we want to do it right. We want to be organized, we want to make sure that this has been very carefully thought through."

Melnyk says should the organization decide to submit a proposal it would likely happen before Christmas.

"We want to do what's right for the city, for the fans, for the organization long term," said Melnyk. "That's the way I think, long term. It's not what happens this year, the year after, it's what happens over the next 20 years from now."

Melnyk also commented on the outbreak of mumps across the league.

"It's bizarre," he said. "It could be serious if it gets through a dressing room and you could get five, six guys sitting on the sidelines so I think every team should be taking it seriously and we certainly do."

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