Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has died at the age of 62.
The Senators made the announcement Monday night. The cause of death was not immediately known.
“It is with great sadness that the family of Eugene Melnyk and the Ottawa Senators hockey organization announce his passing on March 28, 2022 after an illness he faced with determination and courage,” the team said in a statement. “Eugene never wavered in his desire and commitment to bring the Stanley Cup to the nation’s capital.
“Under his ownership, the Senators played in the 2007 Stanley Cup finals and the Conference Finals in 2017. Eugene was confident the current team of talented players and coaching staff that he and his organization built will challenge for and eventually deliver on that championship promise.”
Melnyk, a Toronto native, has owned the Senators since 2003. In 2007, Ottawa reached the Stanley Cup before losing in five games to the Anaheim Ducks.
In a statement, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman paid tribute to Melnyk.
“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk,” Bettman said. “The words ‘passion’ and ‘commitment’ define the man who has owned the Ottawa Senators since 2003.
“While successful in business, it was our game and his Senators that he was most passionate about. Eugene was often outspoken but he maintained an unwavering commitment to the game and his roots and he loved nothing more than donning a Senators sweater and cheering on his beloved team. On behalf of the entire National Hockey League, I extend my deepest sympathies to Eugene’s daughters, Anna and Olivia, his extended family, and all those who benefited from his generosity.”
Senators captain Brady Tkachuk took to social media to express his sentiments towards Melnyk.
“Mr. Melnyk provided me, my teammates, and many Sens players who came before us with an opportunity to live out our dream,” Tkachuk tweeted. “The Ottawa community will miss you greatly. Condolences to your family.”
Melnyk was the owner, governor and chairman of the Ottawa Senators and Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League. He was also the founder and former chairman of Biovail Corp., once Canada’s largest pharmaceutical company.
More recently, he was chairman and chief executive of Neurolign, a fledgling medical device company and chairman of Clean Beauty Collective, a boutique company that produces ethically sourced products.
He was also an Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Melnyk was also a successful thoroughbred horse-racing breeder, twice being named Canada’s top owner. His horses won all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, including Archers Bay capturing the ’98 Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes en route to being named Canada’s champion three-year-old male horse.
Archers Bay was named after an area known for sunsets in northwest Barbados. The colt was the first horse Eugene Melnyk ever ran in the Queen’s Plate and the victory confirmed his decision to spend $125,000 for the son of Silver Deputy at a Kentucky yearling sale.
In 2013, Melnyk reduced his horse-racing operation and went from breeding to purchasing yearlings and racing those instead. Melnyk was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2017.