NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to the media at the conclusion of the GM meetings Wednesday.
And while he echoed most of what was said about the health of the game on the ice, Bettman was inevitably asked about the Ottawa Senators, who have seen their proposed move to a new downtown arena fall apart as owner Eugene Melnyk and his former business partner sue and counter-sue each other.
Consumer confidence in the nation’s capital has dipped drastically since the club got to within a goal of reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup final thanks a string of missteps that have plagued the beleaguered franchise.
The Senators dealt their top-3 scorers — forwards Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel — before the NHL trade deadline after also shipping captain and star defenceman Erik Karlsson out of town in September.
All four players were unable to agree on new contracts with Ottawa and could have left as unrestricted free agents this summer.
“Teams go through ebbs and flows both on the ice and with their fanbases,” Bettman said. “Eugene Melnyk is doing what’s expected of him as an owner in terms of meeting the team’s obligations. Management, ownership, for any franchise at any given point in time may think it’s time for a rebuild, and that’s what has to be done.
“Teams go through cycles.”