‘He changed our city’: Local business leaders assess Eugene Melnyk’s legacy

Distinguished small business and political figures remembered Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk Tuesday as an…

‘He changed our city’: Local business leaders assess Eugene Melnyk’s legacy

Distinguished small business and political figures remembered Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk Tuesday as an ardent hockey admirer and neighborhood builder who rescued the NHL franchise from the brink of personal bankruptcy and assisted elevate tens of millions of bucks for nearby charities.

Melynk died on Monday at the age of 62. The induce of death was not instantly acknowledged.

In 2015, Melnyk experienced a liver transplant at the Toronto Normal Healthcare facility. He was reportedly mere days absent from loss of life before a acceptable donor was identified.

The Toronto native experienced owned the Senators considering that 2003. Melnyk procured the Senators and Canadian Tire Centre for US$130 million immediately after reaching a deal with lenders. He also was a previous proprietor of the St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League.

Melnyk built his mark in enterprise in the 1990s as the founder and previous chairman of Biovail Corp., as soon as Canada’s premier pharmaceutical business. He put in an offer for the Senators immediately after Rod Bryden’s deal to reacquire the franchise was unsuccessful. 

Even though the group innovative to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, Melnyk’s connection with the city started to sour in later on many years as the staff floundered on the ice and at the box workplace. Throughout the NHL 100 Traditional celebrations in late 2017, the owner publicly mused about relocating the team, prompting disillusioned fans to launch a #MelnykOut campaign.

Two several years afterwards, Melynk’s bid to construct a new arena at LeBreton Flats with John Ruddy’s Trinity Improvement Group fell aside amid authorized wrangling in between the associates.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who sparred publicly with the late Senators owner around the collapse of the deal, available his condolences to Melnyk’s spouse and children and colleagues on Tuesday.

‘Full of electricity and ideas’

“While we did not constantly see eye to eye on some concerns, I was normally appreciative that Mr. Melnyk stepped forward to hold the (Senators) in Ottawa, solidifying the organization’s put as an integral component of our metropolis,” Watson stated in a tweet.

Bruce Firestone, who was aspect of the team that landed the Senators growth franchise in 1990, claimed Melnyk remaining an enduring legacy as an entrepreneur and sporting activities executive.

“I recall Eugene as a young man, full of energy and tips,” Firestone reported in an e-mail to OBJ on Tuesday. “He was proud of his get the job done with Biovail acquiring generic slow-launch prescription drugs for all of humanity. But he was even much more pleased to be an NHL owner. Commissioner Gary Bettman does not imagine that NHL franchises need to be moved – appear at his attempts to hold the Coyotes in Arizona. Gary labored hard to retain the Sens for Ottawa right after their bankruptcy in the mid 2000s, and Eugene stepped up at that time so we could have NHL hockey in Ottawa for an additional virtually two many years.”

Previous Senators president Cyril Leeder also paid his respects to Melnyk on Tuesday.

“I wish to increase my deepest condolences and sympathies to Anna, Olivia and the overall Melnyk loved ones,” he explained in an e-mail.

The Senators appeared in the NHL playoffs 9 instances during Melnyk’s possession tenure. But Ottawa hasn’t achieved the postseason considering that 2017 when it missing to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins four online games to 3 in the Jap Conference remaining.

Melnyk was the operator, governor and chairman of the Senators and Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League. Additional a short while ago, he was chairman and main executive of Neurolign, a fledgling healthcare product business, and chairman of Clean Natural beauty Collective, a boutique business that provides ethically sourced solutions. He was also an Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Charitable brings about

Melnyk also supported a lot of charitable leads to, which include St. Joseph’s Health and fitness Centre, Help Us Aid the Kids and St. Michael’s University University in Toronto, his alma mater. He later resided in Barbados, where by he launched Providence Faculty for pre-kindergarten to Quality 10 and served as chairman of trustees and the board of administration.

With Melnyk’s support, the Senators Community Foundation invested a lot more than $100 million to support local charities and group applications that support kids and youth throughout the area. He was the guide donor of Anna House, a childcare facility in Belmont, N.Y., and Roger Nielson House, a pediatric palliative care facility in Ottawa named following the previous Senators mentor.

Most recently, Melnyk, whose mom and dad ended up equally born in Ukraine, pledged to aid the Ukrainian people today in the country’s war with Russia. He explained the Senators Neighborhood Basis would direct cash to charitable leads to in Ukraine and vowed to work with the community Ukrainian group to aid accumulate donations, starting to be the to start with NHL owner to publicly guidance the nation. 

In 2017, two decades following his effective liver transplant, Melnyk introduced the Organ Project, a charity that aimed to educate the community on the benefits of organ donations and persuade individuals to indicator their organ donor playing cards.

“That did alter his outlook on giving back,” Ottawa businessman Peter Nicholson, who worked with Melnyk as an adviser on the charity, stated of his transplant. “He actually did truly feel that it was a life time reward – a present of more several years.”

Nicholson, the owner of local economic services business Prosperity Generation Preservation & Donation, advised Melynk on how to maximize the tax added benefits of the Organ Undertaking. The charity’s endeavours ended up suspended in 2019 right after the firm said its accomplishment was tough to measure underneath the province’s on the net registration process.

“(Melnyk) was passionate about (the Senators Local community Basis), but I assume it arrived at an additional level with his liver transplant to make a true change in Canada and globally on individuals recognizing the value of signing your transplant card,” Nicholson stated. “That was dear to his coronary heart.”

Very well-recognised Ottawa businessman and philanthropist Dan Greenberg, arguably a single of the Senators’ most die-difficult enthusiasts, received to see a more individual side of Melnyk for the duration of a supper they both of those attended as portion of the 2014 NHL Heritage Traditional in Vancouver, where the Senators confronted off in opposition to the Canucks.

Greenberg, proprietor of Ferguslea Houses, sat at the cafe evening meal table correct next to Melynk and the late Bryan Murray, who was the team’s typical manager at the time. 

“It was a magical evening,” Greenberg mentioned of the very long conversation the a few of them shared that evening. He doesn’t even try to remember speaking to any individual else during the meal – like his spouse, Barbara Criminal, who was fast paced chatting with evening meal host Cyril Leeder and his wife, Lydia.

“This one particular night I essentially expended almost certainly three hrs with Bryan and Eugene. Can you envision? I imagine I actually got to link with each of them on a amount I by no means had before.”

“He did this incredible issue he rescued this staff effectively from individual bankruptcy.”

Greenberg’s biggest takeaway from that conversation was how happy Melynk was of his Ukrainian roots and how essential it was to him that he create a legacy for his daughters. “Those two passions came out so evidently.”

Greenberg, whose business was also the title sponsor of the yearly Sens Soirée organized by the hockey club’s charitable arm, however remembers with fondness the early days of the staff below Melnyk’s ownership. 

“He was this glamorous figure who arrived out of nowhere. Who knew who Eugene Melnyk was right before he acquired the team? He acquired not only the crew but he also bought the developing.

“He did this amazing matter he rescued this staff primarily from personal bankruptcy.”

Greenberg touched on a several highlights, from when the workforce was just one target away from going to the Stanley Cup remaining in 2017 to when Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf was traded to the Senators. 

Greenberg, who’s unquestionably no Leafs admirer, discovered himself going from hating the new participant to loving him. “I’m however in contact with Dion. He’s a great man.

“All these things took place because of Eugene Melnyk. He genuinely altered our town, that is for absolutely sure. He changed our city. Definitely.”

Nicholson after watched a Senators game with Melnyk in the owner’s non-public box and was impressed with his encyclopedic information of – and enthusiasm for – the activity.

“He was an proprietor that truly comprehended the game of hockey,” Nicholson reported. “He would say the worst sport for him is when they experienced the lead and they shed the lead in the 3rd period. He would be angry for days until eventually the next activity.” 

Melnyk was also a effective thoroughbred horse-racing breeder, 2 times becoming named Canada’s top rated proprietor. His horses received all 3 legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, which include Archers Bay capturing the ’98 Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes en route to currently being named Canada’s winner a few-yr-previous male horse.

Archers Bay was named right after an region acknowledged for sunsets in northwest Barbados. The colt was the initial horse Eugene Melnyk at any time ran in the Queen’s Plate and the victory verified his selection to invest $125,000 for the son of Silver Deputy at a Kentucky yearling sale.

In 2013, Melnyk diminished his horse-racing operation and went from breeding to getting yearlings and racing these in its place. Melnyk was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Corridor of Fame in 2017.

– With added reporting from the Canadian Press