Don Cherry doesn’t spend a lot of time in Ottawa, and he’s a Maple Leafs fan, so perhaps it’s not surprising that he doesn’t understand what’s going on with the Senators. But Cherry should know better than to blame fans for their discontent at the state of the team, or suggest that the Senators could easily be moved to another city.
Like many other observers, Cherry assumes that there are good sports towns and bad sports towns, rather than just large markets and small ones and teams that are run well and those that aren’t. If you live in a city of five million people, it’s a lot easier to sell tickets, even if your team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup in more than 50 years. Ultimately, the future of the Senators will be determined by two significant milestones: signing Erik Karlsson to a long-term contract and building an arena on LeBreton Flats.
If Eugene Melnyk can close both transactions, the fans will be back. If he fails on one, it gets more challenging. But if both deals fall through, Melnyk could find it very hard to sell tickets in the future. Either way, Don Cherry is wrong: it’s up to Melnyk, not the fans, to make the team successful.