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Remembering Eugene Melnyk

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk passed away at the age of 62 on Monday night after battling an illness. Melnyk purchased the Senators in 2003, saving the team from bankruptcy. He was a very passionate owner known for his work in the community, being a successful thoroughbred horse-racing breeder and starting his pharmaceutical, Biovail Corp. 

Eugene was born in Toronto but also a proud Ukrainian, as he put it when he put out a letter announcing that he would donate funds from the Senators Community Foundation for causes to help Ukraine, work with the city’s Ukrainian community in Ottawa to help with charitable donations and play the Ukrainian National Anthem at all Sens home games for the remainder of the year after the unprovoked Russian attack. 

That was the last we’ve heard from Eugene Melnyk until the announcement of his passing on Monday night. We reached out to long-time media members to share their thoughts and memories about Mr. Melnyk. 

“I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends. I remember how insecure and uncertain the Senators’ future was in Ottawa before Melnyk bought the team out of bankruptcy protection.”- Ottawa Citizen writer Ken Warren. 

“Eugene was a very passionate man whose love for the hockey team, simply put, just made our city a better one. There have been millions of dollars funnelled into hundreds of local charities over the years, coupled with the millions of smiles put on the faces of hockey fans, young and old. In short, he left us with a wonderful legacy.” –  Ottawa Senators analyst Gord Wilson of TSN 1200 commented. 

Retired CTV Sports Anchor Terry Marcotte shared some kind words and stories about his interactions with Eugene: 

“Eugene Melnyk was one of the most complicated people I’ve come across.  There were missteps he made—many of them– that angered hockey fans in Ottawa.   At the same time, he could be charming and kind and thoughtful.  He had a great belief in himself and his ability to get things done.  If you look at his track record in business, including his NHL team, he did alright.  Even to his death, with rumours swirling that he wouldn’t be able to hold onto the Senators, he did.

I always admired how he cared for Max Keeping as Max’s health failed.  He visited him.  He gave him a permanent seat in his private box.  And when Max died, he allowed his family to hold his memorial at the rink.

I enjoyed the many conversations we had.  He loved his family.  He enjoyed the challenges that went with his job.  It is too bad he didn’t allow more fans to see that side of him.  When I retired at the end of 2019, he was generous in giving me a wonderful send-off that left me with great memories of my years covering his team.  With his passing, it’s nice that we are reminded of the good he has done for Ottawa, the passion he had for his team and for trying to build a winner.” – Terry Marcotte. 

“Whether you liked Mr. Melnyk or not, you can’t deny the facts.  There would be no franchise in Ottawa if it weren’t for him.  Well over 100 million dollars for charity has been raised through this team.  Thousands are employed at the CTC and for companies supplying it.  Our city would not be what it is without Eugene Melnyk.

That doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes made and relationships damaged, but on the whole, his contributions made Ottawa a better place.” – Ottawa Senators play-by-play voice for TSN 1200 Dean Brown. 

There were plenty of kind words shared on Twitter from Sens captain Brady Tkachuk, former Ottawa Senator Chris Phillips and the Sens team honouring Eugene with ‘EM’ stickered on their helmets last night. 

 

 

 

RIP, Mr. Melnyk.

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