Eugene Melnyk should have gone a little further in his town hall meetings with Senators fans this week. It’s good that Melnyk took the time to meet with fans and answer their unfiltered questions. And reducing the cost of parking is a significant good-will gesture.
But Melnyk should have started with a full apology for speculating at moving the team a few months ago. Instead, he blamed the media for how the comments were reported. When you’re entrusted with the faith of a legion of passionate fans, you should respect that and never trifle with it by threatening to take away the object of their rabid affection. Beyond being discourteous, ultimatums rarely sell more tickets. If anything, they send a signal to fans that they should hold back their support and their money.
Sports teams are in a category of their own, especially because their value tends to grow even if they aren’t making money. But ultimately they are still businesses, and in business, the customer is always right. If fans aren’t happy with their team, that’s the fault of the owner, not the fans or the media.