Belleville Senators Unveil Logo

Author: Jason Miller, TheIntelligencer.ca
Date: Jul 27, 2017

BELLEVILLE - The Belleville Senators unveiled their logo and launched the club’s website at a private event Tuesday.

Amidst all the fanfare of the announcement, it was an impassioned address from Randy Lee, the Senators’ assistant general manager, shedding light on the agonizing process to relocate the team, that caught the attention of The Intelligencer.

Lee spoke of having to break the news to the former owners of the team that Ottawa was looking to walk away from its relationship with them in Binghamton with two years left in the deal.

It broke up a 15 year deal, one of the longest in the league’s history. “It was very tough, because five different dominoes had to fall for this deal to work,” he said.

The league had to approve it, the Binghamton group had to sell, the rink had to be done and Ottawa had to find a replacement team for Binghamton, he said.

“Even when we thought the deal was dead a couple times, we kept fighting,” he said. “Mayor Taso Christopher and Mark Fluhrer were in the trenches with me. It was hard threading.

“It was the most agonizing,” he told the room of city staffers and dignitaries including the mayors of Belleville and Quinte West, and 8 Wing Commander Col. Mark Goulden. “It was awful.”

Like that time last year when the team announced a press conference that fell through on the eleventh hour.

“There were some dark days,” he said. “We had a press conference planned for Belleville and I drove down. We found another hitch.”
That glitch was, in part, the Ottawa Senators’ doubts about the ability of the Saskatoon businessman looking to purchase the team to deliver on all the fronts required of an AHL team owner.

“For some reason, they weren’t willing to close the deal,” he said. “We couldn’t have any loose ends hanging because we were leaving a great relationship.

“He was an impressive individual, but he wasn’t familiar with the AHL and he wasn’t familiar with the Belleville community,” Lee said. “We had to try to sell him and that shouldn’t be the situation. Now we own it and there is no chance that we’re leaving.”

Eugene Melnyk stepped into the fray and took the process down a different route. He took the unprecedented step of owning his farm team.
“Mr. Melnyk had to step up and we had to start again,” he said. “We got it done.”

In a show of commitment, the Senators inked an eight-year deal, with a five year option.

The deals in Binghamton were typically three year stints, with Ottawa doing numerous extensions over the 15 year stay in New York State.
“We started here, right off the hop, with an eight-year deal, so we’re not going anywhere,” Lee said. “It’s two hours away and it’s great for our development and it’s in our market. We’re going to convert a lot of Bruins and Leafs fans to become Senators fans.”

He dispelled chatter about the risk of the team pulling out after a handful of years. Breaking a 15 year arrangement in Binghamton may heighten concerns of a similar outcome here, but Lee said the Senators are here for the long haul.

“We would never put our team in Ottawa, it doesn’t work,” he said. “We don’t want that. We want a designated city where the players can have their community, that is convenient for call-ups. That’s why Montreal went to Laval.”

Of the 40 players on last season’s roster, 38 played in the AHL.

The website has now been launched, which Lee said is another step forward in a marriage that’s expected to last beyond the eight years committed to by the Senators.

“This is perfect match for us to be in Belleville,” Lee said. “It’s a great arrangement for logistics and the hockey development side of it.”

  Share   Tweet

Strategic Partners