Billboard campaign orders ouster of Ottawa Senators owner
They’re not getting the same critical acclaim as the Hollywood movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but four billboards around Ottawa, Ontario certainly are generating a buzz.
The signs read “#MelnykOut” referring to the recently trending hashtag demanding the Ottawa Senators’ owner, Eugene Melnyk, be relieved of his duties. The billboards were the brainchild of disgruntled fan Spencer Callaghan, who managed to raise $10,000 through a GoFund Me campaign.
“This was just an attempt to bring the message into the mainstream, to get people talking about it because, quite honestly, this team is really valuable to this community, not just on the ice but off the ice,” Callaghan told Global News.
He decided on the old school method of roadside billboard because the conversation was already happening online and he felt Ottawa Senators management needed to hear directly from fans.
“I want the organization to change, to fix itself. I think if that requires new leadership that’s one thing. If it requires a change of direction in the thought process of the current leadership, that’s another thing,” said Callaghan.
Global News has requested a comment from Melnyk, but the team owner has yet to respond.
In the past, Melnyk has defended his commitment to the team by noting that he bought the organization when it was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2003.
However, on the eve of the NHL 100 Classic game between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators, Melnyk lamented a lack of fan support, pointing to low attendance figures at the Canadian Tire Centre.
“I’m not going to blow a lifetime of working hard to support a hockey team. It’s not gonna happen,” Melnyk said on December 15, 2017.
He also said that he would consider moving the team if the situation became a “disaster.” Weeks later he walked back the comments, saying he was not considering a move.
That’s still not good enough for Callaghan.
“Thanks for saving the team in 2003, now it’s 2018 [and] we have a whole new set of problems, we have a whole new city, this city has changed in 15 years and we need modern solutions,” said Callaghan.
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