It appears that the National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators franchise has become Commissioner Gary Bettman’s biggest problem, surpassing the Glendale-based Arizona franchise as the league’s biggest headache. Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who lives in Barbados half a year, seemingly wants a new arena but it is unclear just want Melnyk really desires for his business. He may want to leave suburban Kanata for a place near Parliament, Ottawa is the Canadian capital. Or he may not want a place near Parliament. Right now, Melnyk is in a court battle because a business deal went bad. Melnyk was going to partner with developer John Ruddy to develop a piece of land known as the LeBreton Flats which would have included an arena-village. That happened in early 2018, by November 2018, Melnyk was suing Ruddy for $700 million Canadian claiming that Ruddy had a conflict of interest because he is involved in another Ottawa development near the LeBreton Flats area. Ruddy decided to sue Melnyk for a billion dollars Canadian accusing Melnyk and the Senators business of skipping out on financial responsibilities and wanting not to pay rent in the planned building. The court action will play out.
Melnyk’s team plays in a soon-to-be 23 year old arena about 12 miles southwest of Ottawa. Bettman found Melnyk in 2003 to buy the bankrupt franchise and prevent the team from moving to the United States. Ottawa is a very small market that doesn’t have the corporate market that is thought to be needed to be successful. The National Hockey League would prefer a market to have companies with at least $5 million in sales and 25 employees as it thinks those companies can afford NHL season tickets. Ottawa has the smallest corporate community in the NHL with about 900 suitable businesses. Melnyk likes owning the team but does he like Ottawa?