Category Archives: Eugene Melnyk

Avoiding Flailure

I’ve started or been an early hire in several high tech companies, and now work for a big one.  Some succeeded (if you define success as reacquisition or IPO so someone else can fuck it up).  Some failed.  All had one thing in common: Avoiding the deathmarch, or if on it,  ending it and fast.

Few get everything right in the beginning.  The smart ones change course when they sense they are going down the wrong path.  Change requires innovation.  There is one small problem however,  summarized by this axiom:

Innovation is inversely proportional to organizational strength.

Organizational strength increases over time.

New companies and larger companies that have successfully survived a near-death experience (hello, Apple) can innovate.  Newer companies have little organizational strength, so change is easy.  Larger companies can only do this by purging themselves of existing organizational strength, and to do so radically.  In other words, they  must change their executives, discard, isolate or encapsulate the current organization, and reboot.

Apple, at one time,  needed a US$150 million investment from Microsoft to make payroll and survive.   The giant today is a result of a reboot in technology and mindset (OS9?  Power PC?) .  For larger companies the situation has to be this extreme,  as only a true rebirth allows for a return to real innovation.  Half measures don’t count.  Half-measures result in flailure, in other words,  being good enough, but no better, and in reality getting worse.

If you haven’t heard of flailure,  here’s a definition.

flailure: (noun): misfortune that occurs because of clumsiness; an accident that includes a wild flailing of limbs.

What does this have to do with hockey?  Well, everything.

The Senators have been in flailure state for a while now.  Doesn’t matter who’s fault it is.  Too many favorites.  Too many empires.  The only way forward is to take the great leap into rebirth.   This, of course, means that everything must be on the table,  from management to player personnel to expectations of the fans and the media.

Such a decision can only come from ownership.  The fans seem ready,  some media (not Sun media) are there,  it appears some players are there,  as is some management.   Is the team ready, willing and able for a rebirth,  or will it continue to sadly march along in seemingly endless flailure?


Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Eugene Melnyk, Scouting, Senators


Let The Rebuild Begin

Bryan Murray at today’s presser.

” I feel for the fans.”

“If we continue to drop games going forward, there are a lot of players I will consider moving.”

On “The Euge” – “He’s realistic.

Murray added that he’s considering bringing up Robin Lehner. Given the way the Senators are playing, you might as well start with him.

It’s also clear that he’s gone as GM at the end of the season.

The rest was valedictory. He mentioned that when he came on as a GM the organization was short in depth and their drafts were not up to scratch.  They’ve done a good job in the last few years of selecting people in the draft for the future.

Robin Lehner will play in Bingo for the weekend and then he may be brought up if things don’t go well between the pipes.

He’s not yet at the “blow it up” stage, at least publicly.  But it seems that the Senators are already in transition towards a total rebuild with a new GM and a new head coach.

Could both roles be filled by St. Michael’s Majors head coach and GM Dave Cameron, who has done a brilliant job coaching Team Canada at the World Juniors?

Since Cameron already works for “The Euge”,  why not?



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All Aboard The Draft Lottery Express!

Ottawa is in 25th place with other teams having games in hand. At this pace the Senators will have a lottery pick at the 2011 draft, giving them an outside chance at the number one pick.

Let’s look at the ISS Top 10:

Sean Courturier, C
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C
Adam Larsson, D
Gabriel Landeskog, RW
Ryan Murphy, D
Joel Armia, RW
Victor Rask, C
Duncan Siemens, D
Brandon Saad, LW
Matt Puempel, LW

Of these, let’s look at forwards, where Ottawa is a little bit starved for the future:

Sean Courturier, C
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C
Gabriel Landeskog, RW
Joel Armia, RW
Victor Rask, C
Brandon Saad, LW
Matt Puempel, LW

Ottawa suckage and lottery luck will define how close to 1st Ottawa can go. Not sure if they can beat Jersey, Edmonton and the Islanders for the bottom, but it’s just like the Leafs and the Sabres to go on a pathetic end-of-season tear. So let’s place the Ottawa Senators at 26th with no changes due to the lottery, as per usual.  Since they have traded their pick to Boston the Leafs have no incentive to suck.  Buffalo of course is a suckage wildcard, as always. But let’s assume 26th.

Courturier is likely a first or second pick, a classic Islanders choice. Gone. Adam Larsson plays D, and is a perfect fit for New Jersey. Gone. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, an Alberta WHL boy, is too tempting for Edmonton to pass up.

It means that either Gabriel Landeskog,  or Victor Rask could end up in an Ottawa Senators uniform.

Of these, my bet is that it will be, should be, must be Gabriel Landeskog.

This is Elite Prospects’s take:

“An offensively skilled talent with good speed, technique and eye for the game. Likes to carry the puck a lot and finish himself. Could sometimes pass the puck a little earlier. Fairly well-rounded. Very strong. Loves to hit people.

Uh huh. Any further questions?


Posted by on January 4, 2011 in Eugene Melnyk, NHL, Scouting, Senators



30/50 vs 25/50

This page from shows what’s what.  The Senators need to win 30 of 50 if they expect (a 94% chance or greater) to make the playoffs.  If they fall five short and win 25 of 50 their chances of making the playoffs falls to a tiny 9%.

Five games.  That’s it.  Given how they’ve played, what  do you expect to happen?



BTW:  Erik Karlsson, Natalie Portman. Separated at Birth?

Bryan Murray & The Ottawa Senators

Graeme at the 6th Sens wants Bryan and Tim Murray’s heads on a platter…

“Tough decisions have to be made and they’re ones that I no longer entrust to Bryan or Tim Murray (the likely incumbent GM once Bryan steps down). Given Bryan’s contract status, the bias that he developed for these players when he coached them and his perpetual ability to make reactive transactions, I no longer have the faith in the current brain trust to do the right thing. Even when this team is winning and things are going well, most fans that I know are guilty of waiting for the other shoe to drop. We’ve grown wary of these guys.

via If Bryan Murray Gets Turfed… | November.”

While I understand his point of view,  Graeme makes the mistake of  assuming the muddling tinkering with what you have position comes from General Manager Bryan Murray and not  from owner Eugene Melnyk himself. I’ve worked at the Tim Murray level in various companies,  and have been frustrated  by ownership from making real changes due to the need to deliver product with limited resources right here, right now.  There is nothing more dangerous than an owner who thinks he knows what he’s doing. and nothing kills the future more than the desire to deliver today.  Eugene Melnyk  strikes me as a very involved owner,  one who wants to put product on the ice and bums in the seats. A corporate guy doesn’t look three or four years down the road. Such folk look at the next couple of quarters and the current cash flow. It’s all about paying the bills.

The question really becomes: Can the Ottawa Senators survive as a business taking an LA Kings kind of approach?  Is Eugene Melnyk willing to take his lumps as the team rebuilds?  Are the fans willing to buy tickets and fill a stadium for a rebuilding team?

If it was a US city, I’d say ‘yes’, because hockey is viewed as entertainment there, not  as being cultural. Fans notice either deep runs or nothing. Ottawa has some of the Leafs/Habs disease, fans want a winner, and are less willing to make the drive to Kanata to see a team get shellacked for the years needed to rebuild.  Garrioch and Brennan stir up the fan base.  Leafs media sets the tone for behavior with the hockey equivalent of “next year in Jerusalem.”   It infects the media here as well.

The problem is deep and  endemic. Fans, media, team management and ownership have a role in the problem, and have a role in the solution. The lot has to do a lot of growing up,  the first group being the fans, who need to exhibit realistic expectations.

I suspect that it will be us bloggers who have to be grown up about it first.  You’re not going to get it from people who want to sell newspaper ad space.  It will be very hard to get it from team management selling product, until such time that the product they are selling is change.

Change of that magnitude can only come from ownership, and I’m not sure that ownership is ready. Until that happens you can have the secret  spawn of Steve Yzerman and  Scotty Bowman as GM with the result being a hill of beans.