Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk passes at 62

Daniel Alfredsson
Dec 4, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Daniel Alfredsson poses with Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk (left) and general manager Brian Murray (right) after signing a one day contract to return to the Senators during a press conference at Canadian Tire Centre where he announced that he would be retiring. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Eugene Melnyk, who owned the Ottawa Senators for the past two decades, died Monday at age 62.

According to a statement from the team, Melnyk died “after an illness he faced with determination and courage.”

Though the team didn’t elaborate on his illness, Melnyk had received a liver transplant in 2015.

A Toronto native, the son of Ukrainian parents, Melnyk bought the Senators for $92 million in 2003.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk dies at 62

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement, “The words ‘passion’ and ‘commitment’ define the man who has owned the Ottawa Senators since 2003. Whether it was in the boardroom with his fellow governors, at the rink with his beloved Senators or in the community with his philanthropy, he cared deeply about the game, about his team and about bettering the lives of those in need, particularly underserved children, organ donation and, most recently, with his commitment to his parents’ home country of Ukraine.“

“While successful in business, it was our game and his Senators that he was most passionate about,” Bettman continued. “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.”

Senators captain Brady Tkachuk tweeted, “Mr. Melnyk provided me, my teammates, and many Sens players who came before us with an opportunity to live out our dream. The Ottawa community will miss you greatly. Condolences to your family.”

Melnyk’s estimated net worth was more than $1.2 billion, built on his involvement with multiple companies, including Canadian pharmaceutical firm Biovail Corp.

The Senators, an NHL expansion team in 1992-93, reached their only Stanley Cup Final in 2007. Currently with the second-lowest point total in the Eastern Conference, they are likely to miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

Melnyk took a stance for Ukraine

Eugene Melnyk said after the Russian invasion that the Ukrainian national anthem will be played prior to Ottawa Senators’ home games for the remainder of the season.

Melnyk also said the team will utilize 50/50 draws to allow the Senators Community Foundation to donate to some of the organizations currently providing humanitarian and medical assistance to Ukraine.

The club is also will using its home arena as a drop-off point to collect charitable donations.

Melnyk made these acknowledgments in an open letter published on full-page advertisements in the Ottawa Sun and Ottawa Citizen.

“I am a proud and patriotic Canadian, born and raised in this special country. I am also a proud Ukrainian, the son of parents who were both born in the Ukraine,” Melnyk wrote in the letter, which also was shared by the Senators’ social media sites. “The steadfast will and determination that is my heritage has attracted the admiration and respect of people around the world.

“Today, we are all Ukrainians. The unprovoked assault and unnecessary campaign, economic and social destruction of a sovereign country is unspeakable and unacceptable in a civilized world.

“And, while the images from Ukraine show courage and resilience, they’re also a cry out for help.”

–Field Level Media