Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has succeeded in becoming the Al Davis of hockey — minus a couple of things.
Melnyk doesn’t appear as sports savvy as the former Raiders owner.
Melnyk appears to have an even shorter temper — if that’s possible.
Melnyk’s team hasn’t been as successful.
Melnyk never coached the game he professes to know so much about.
Melnyk certainly doesn’t exude as much in the cool department.
Other than that, he’s got this Al Davis bit down. He’s brash, braggadocios and appears to enjoy saying ridiculous things that — whether calculated or not — shift a portion of the focus from the players to him.
The latest episode in Melnyk’s nonsensical behavior came in anticipation of an Eastern Conference semifinal in which the Senators will take on the Penguins, a matchup flickered by events earlier this season, when Matt Cooke’s skate cut the Achilles of Erik Karlsson.
In a tweet posted over the weekend, Melnyk wrote, “Some tweets we get from #Pens fans are profanity filled. That’s classless – it’s just a game. You are embarassing your city, team & players.”
Well, first off, Mr. Morals Police, “embarrassing” has two “r’s” — but we will let that one slide. Grammar aside, let’s move on to the meatier stuff.
Every fan base has clowns who tweet embarrassing (two “r’s”) things.
Every single one.
There is a lunatic fringe that prays to the altar of every sports team. It is a certain sect of the fanbase that takes it too far; that allows the team to become an unhealthy portion of their own identity. Almost certainly, these would be the people who sent those tweets to Mr. Melnyk.
What does a man who had a reported net worth of almost $800 million just a few years ago — and since retired from the company that brought him those riches — gain from publicly engaging those knuckleheads?
By engaging some idiot fans — and telling the world about it — Melnyk wants people to look at him. It’s that simple.
His behavior was similarly quizzical after the Cooke/Karlsson incident. First, Melnyk claimed there was intent behind Cooke’s actions then went a step farther, saying he was going to commission forensic experts to prove such a notion.
The NHL stood worthlessly by as Melnyk’s words rose dangerously close to putting a bounty out on Cooke — a detestable claim made by him, especially as he wasn’t going to be the guy who would carry out the justice. No, Melnyk vowed that someone would get even with Cooke, even as Melnyk would never be that someone.
That takes a lot of guts, huh?
I can’t figure out if I should be embarrassed (two “r’s”) or feel sorry for this guy.
Melnyk is a prime example that all the money — American, Canadian or in his case Barbadian, as he lives much of the year in Barbados — can’t serve as a substitute for the attention some unwaveringly crave.
Melnyk’s continued bizarre actions should also hammer something home much deeper to Pittsburgh Penguins fans — the pride they should have in their ownership group.
Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, I will safely predict, will almost-certainly never act as asinine as Mr. Melnyk.
Never. Not in a million years. Not even if the most egregious action would happen to a Penguins player or be realized by one of them at the hands of an opposing fan.
Pittsburgh should feel lucky to have Lemieux and Burkle at the very top of the Penguins franchise, instead of some crackpot who feels the need to embarrass (two “r’s”) himself and the Senators just about every chance he gets.
Former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports Writer Colin Dunlap is the featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.