Eugene Melnyk knows the clock is ticking against his team.
But the Ottawa Senators owner remains supremely confident that playoff success is just around the corner for head coach/general manager Bryan Murray and his charges.
“I think we’re moving forward,” Melnyk said after a Barbados Night reception that preceded Tuesday’s Senators-Boston Bruins game at Scotiabank Place. “I really believe in this team, I believe in Bryan, I believe in every single one of those players.
|Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and Glyne Murray, Barbados High Commissioner to Canada, take in Tuesday night's game between the Sens and Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography). |
“They understand (the situation), they’re professionals and that’s what they get paid for, and I think you’re going to see a performance out of them like you’ve never seen before going into the playoffs.”
Melnyk has watched over the past two weeks as Murray relieved head coach John Paddock of his duties, then took the team on a west coast road trip that produced three out of a possible eight points. Only 11 games remain in the season after tonight’s tilt with the Bruins, but Melnyk believes it’s enough time to get his team “to fire on all cylinders” heading into the playoffs.
“We’re down to the last (11) games of the regular season,” he said. “I think it’s a tight time schedule to get a lot of things done that Bryan wants to get done before the playoffs, and I think he can do it. He’s a standout guy, he’s stepping up to the plate to get both jobs done and I think you’re going to see that (reflected) on the ice.
“This is probably the most elite team in the league as far as their capabilities are concerned and the talent. It’s just a question of somebody being able to put it all together and the team itself being able to put it all together and go out and win games and score goals and play hard defence and take us all the way.”
Heading into tonight’s game, the Senators were tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference standings with the surging New York Rangers, each with 83 points. But they were only two points back of the Northeast Division-leading Montreal Canadiens, and three back of the New Jersey Devils, who topped the conference going into the night’s action.
The torrid race has amazed Melnyk every night he watches hockey at home in Barbados.
“It’s absolutely incredible that you could have, in one night, a team move from first to fifth or second to fourth,” he said. “But that’s what makes it all exciting.”
Tuesday's Barbados Night promotion extends a relationship between the Caribbean country, the Senators and Melnyk, who has called the island home for 17 years.
"I met my wife there, my children are growing up there," he said. "I'm basically an adopted son there and they've welcomed me with open arms.
"Barbados Night is something we started three years ago. It's going to grow every year. It's one way of thanking the island and its people for everything they've done for us and my family and also the many Canadians who come to visit every year."
Glyne Murray, Barbados' high commissioner to Canada, called the evening "a unique event. There's no other country in the world that has this relationship between a country and a team of this stature and this popularity. And we want to take that stature right to the top this year."