Bettman discusses LeBreton Flats, flatly denies Senators relocation question
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman dismissed any speculation of the Senators leaving Ottawa with the struggles the team is enduring on and off the ice.
"The major projects [LeBreton Flats arena deal], the ebb and flow of team performance is something that will change over time," he told reporters after the league's general manager meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. "I know Eugene Melnyk is very focused on looking at what he has to do and what his best options are under the circumstances."
The last-place Senators have gone through a tumultuous couple of weeks, trading away key veteran players on expiring contracts and firing head coach Guy Boucher.
On top of that, the National Capital Commission announced last week that no settlement could be reached on the LeBreton Flats file in mediation, putting plans for a proposed new downtown arena in jeopardy. The crown corporation will hold a meeting on Thursday to finalize the process for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats.
Despite those developments, Bettman is not concerned about the possibility of moving trucks pulling up at Canadian Tire Centre.
"There's no reason to be," he continued. "Teams go through ebbs and flows and with their fan bases and Eugene Melnyk is doing what he has to do as an owner in terms of meeting the team's obligations – and 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 and teams go through cycles.”
Bettman maintained that he and the league will not interfere in the Senators' affairs unless the situation called for it.
"I haven't been asked to step in and we'll always help when it's appropriate and we're asked," he said.