Mylnyk waiting for '07 to buy Gades?

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So the CFL is hoping to have a new owner for the Ottawa Renegades signed, sealed and delivered by mid-April at the latest. If not, the franchise dies or operations are suspended for 2006 while the league continues to look for someone to take over in time for the 2007 season.

Well, forget the former. That's not going to happen unless the league stumbles on some rich guy desperately looking to find something for his playboy son to do and willing to pay dearly for it. Considering the millions the Renegades are forecast to lose should they play in 2006, legitimate suitors would want to do more than kick the flat tires on this rickshaw.

Bet on the the second part of the latter scenario. The CFL closes shop for a season in Ottawa with the hope of reopening in 2007.

Not an attractive proposition considering the bad publicity of late and then a year-long shutdown during which bigger pieces will crumble from the corroded fan base.

Could it get worse? Sure it can. The CFL may not find anyone in time for 2007, either, and that would certainly force the league to wheel out the guillotine, as it did in 1996 for the Ottawa Rough Riders and bring a humiliating end to the franchise. By that time, that would be the right thing to do for the sake of this city's image.

Wait, though, there is hope, and it still looks pretty good if you're even a little bit of a conspiracy theorist.

Here's what I think: The CFL is betting it's not going to find someone to take over the team by the middle of April, has already shifted focus to 2007 and realizes it may still end up counting on the man who many believed last week was a prospective buyer until he told us he wasn't interested.

True, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk might not even blink while the CFL shops the franchise around in the coming year, and maybe a strong owner or ownership group will surface, taking Melnyk out of the picture. Then again, if no one rises to the occasion to take over the franchise -- and that's a very good possibility given its pathetic state -- Melnyk, under the right circumstances, could be convinced to lend a hand. Especially if city politicians are still open to the idea of allowing Melnyk's entertainment company, Capital Tickets, to take over management of Frank Clair Stadium and the Civic Centre. In fact, if there is real desperation in saving the team, Melnyk may be able to get an even sweeter deal in taking over the stadium and arena, particularly after voters cast their ballots in November's municipal elections.

Melnyk certainly knew the time was right in 2003 when he swooped down and grabbed the Senators, already a great team, and their home rink, built at a cost of $220 million, for $130 million.

Remember, Melnyk's guys had approached the city with the plan a year ago as part of a package to take over the Renegades, who were already having ownership problems over money. Capital Tickets would have had control over booking events and revenues from ticket sales, concessions and parking. Under such a scheme, losses the Renegades incurred while the franchise was rebuilding to make itself financially viable would have been rolled into profits from the revenues brought in by other events held in the arena and stadium.

It's not clear what happened, whether city staff balked at the proposal or Capital Tickets decided to can the idea of expanding.

Undoubtedly, the Renegades are the furthest thing from Melnyk's mind now, and in hindsight, those like myself who thought last week he might accept the challenge in time for the 2006 season, that franchise should be a stratosphere or two from his thoughts. He and his management staff who help run the Senators have the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs to worry about. The last thing they would need right now would be the worry of making the Renegades operational in time for June training camp, no small feat considering the club is even short on players' equipment.

Melnyk and his second most senior Senators executive, Cyril Leeder, are also involved in the Ottawa committee bidding for the 2009 world junior hockey championship. A decision on the host city is about two months away.

However, once that's over with, the playoffs are out of the way and a few of Melnyk's race horses have done a few loops around the track, the CFL may want to approach the pharmaceutical billionaire with cup in hand.

The CFL has already decided that a 2007 rebirth of the Renegades would have to produce a competitive team in order to help the new owner sell more tickets. The league would have a player-transfer agreement in place that would be very favourable to a new Renegades team. Without pro football in Ottawa in 2006, players now under contract would be made available to the CFL's eight other teams through a dispersal draft.

Being promised a competitive club is a pretty good drawing card for any prospective owner looking at buying what really should only be an expansion team. That and control of the arena and stadium isn't a bad package.

Melnyk and his management team would also bring instant credibility to the Renegades, something which the franchise has never really had in its four seasons, and that would make the club more attractive to corporate sponsors and football fans. Melnyk's involvement in the CFL would also help the league with its bush image, which could be another reason that he didn't join the circus last week.

The CFL knows that, too, which might explain why league commissioner Tom Wright was so complimentary about Melnyk following his announcement on Thursday. Wright came about a inch short of calling Melnyk a great Canadian.

"Given Mr. Melnyk's overwhelming contribution to sports in this country and the manner in which he has operated the Ottawa Senators, it is no surprise that CFL fans across Canada would call on him to consider a stake in our country's other game."

Has Wright given up on Melnyk?

Why would he?

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In search of a Bob Young for the Renegades, the CFL might be wise to consider the one it has.

In fact, the Hamilton Ticats owner is so high on the viability of the Ottawa market he wouldn't rule out adding a second team to his stable yesterday.

Not that the league would ever go for it, right?

"This is the CFL," Young reminded from Raleigh, N.C., where he is founder and CEO of, a digital publishing website. "The CFL is the league that let two of its nine teams have the same nickname for 60-odd years. If (B.C. Lions owner) David Braley wanted to buy (the Renegades) I'd vote for it. And if I wanted to, I'd hope he'd vote for it."

Young, an accommodating Hamilton native who spent 14 years in the hardware leasing industry before striking it rich, admits he isn't the "optimal solution" for the Renegades, however.

Better that somebody like former Rough Rider great Russ Jackson ("Russ would be the perfect solution. He has the brand ... he would bring the brand to the story. Russ Jackson would get my vote," says Young) hook up with Ottawa-born movie star Dan Aykroyd and hire sports marketing experts to run the business.

The way Young has.

Since purchasing the Ticats in 2003, Young has completely turned the franchise around. Corporations and fans have responded to his ways. Sponsorship is up, as are season ticket numbers, which are on pace to "substantially exceed" the 16,000-plus of a year ago.

While he is not on the committee charged with finding a new Ottawa owner, Young says he knows that more than one "credible group" has made a phone call to inquire about the Renegades.

Time is an issue, though, and with each passing day it looks more and more like the league will at least suspend the franchise for a year.

In Young's opinion, that might not be the worst move.

"We've done some homework in the Hamilton region, and the fans don't seem to be too worried," he said. "A well-run, eight-team league is a very appealing proposition to them.

"What we want to do is make the right decision, not the first decision," he added of an Ottawa partner. "Time is on our side.

"We've got to back up, no question. We haven't run the Ottawa team as well as we need to. We now have models we can use ... Toronto, Calgary and Hamilton ... we have to come into Ottawa and treat the fans like customers.

"I don't see any reason football can't be a wild success in Ottawa."

Precisely what I said in my post yesterday. Except you cannot mothball the team if you hope to have Eugene at year end, you gotta give the fans the same players or the core who are top notch. You cannot have a dispersal draft and then astart all over with an expansion type team.
The league must prop up the Gades.

by playing this year, isnt that adding even more to the financial woes of the renegades, thus further scaring away any potential buyers?

Definitely. If no owner can be found in time to get the team ready to start the season, then put the franchise on hold for a year. It would be the first time since I started watching the CFL that the league was made up of only healthy franchises.

What if players taken in the dispersal draft (who are still under contract) were to all revert back to the Renegades when the team returns next year? The Gades would have their core of players, most of whom have stayed in game shape, and no team would lose more players next year than they gained this year.

A lot of teams may choose not to borrow players, because it would mean they would have to release someone else that they probably won't be able to get back next year. But say I've got a receiver that I'm pretty sure is playing his last year. I draft Jason Armstead, and release the old guy. Now I've got a really good WR for this season, and even though I'll have to replace him next season, I would have had to replace the old guy anyway. Plus it keeps most of the really talented Ottawa players (there are actually quite a few) in the league, where we can all enjoy watching them play.

perhaps Bernie is just playing a game of chicken with the people of Ottawa and the CFL........everything appeared to be rosy until Lonnie re-signed based on the recommendation from Kershaw and Lisowski......Bernie then publicly critized both men, even though they were right, for their report...........Bernie stated many times that he was here for the long haul, perhaps that should of been qualified long as Lonnie is running the why not put Lonnie back, at least until the end of this season......Bernie is showing that without him and Lonnie, there isnt going to be football in Ottawa, so what is more important, putting up with Lonnie another year or losing the team...........

I was wondering whether Lonie actually resigned to free his father to pull out. Bernie wants to dump the club, but would never do that to his son; so his son quits, and now Bernie can get out without feeling guilty.

Again, Tom Wright said in his interview if there was a solid(blue chip) owner waiting in the wings(Melnyk) the league would prop up the Gades. Plus, it is not like it will cost an exorbitant amount, this based on the Gleiberguys latest how he wants only the league to borrow him some funds. So, potentially if this will not cost as much as previously anticipated by the league, why on earth would you mothball the team, especially since the perception is horrible and yet again give the anti CFL media room to go nuts on the league.
There is also one more possibility we have forgotten, before the Gades came back into the league there was strong talk by the Ottawa council of demolishing the FC site and build condos. Once the team is gone and even potentially for one year, you are giving the left wing politicians more fuel to their fire.
My CFL includes the Gades and if necessary, prop them up.

I think the article raises a reasonable point that the franchise could be mothballed for a season and hopefully brought back to better and bigger things.

I don't agree that you could do a dispersal draft and then return those players to the 'Gades (or whatever they would be called) after 1 year. Think about it.

Supposing they had a dispersal draft, and with the 1st pick, Winnipeg picks Kerry Joseph. In order to accomodate Joseph on their roster, Winnipeg has to release one of their other QB's...obviously an improvement. Joseph naturally, becomes the starter for the '06 season.

During the next off season, Joseph is returned to Ottawa. This would be devastating to Winnipeg having had Joseph at the helm for a whole season (assuming he didn't get injured). Now Winnipeg has no starting QB and has to move the #2 guy (Tee Martin or whoever) into the starter role, as they might have done for '06 in the absence of Joseph. However, this person (for argument's sake Martin) now has to come into the starter role with no continuity from the previous season. This situation in effect sets Winnipeg back an entire season, maybe more.

I can't see that teams who pick up Renegade players would want to return them. If an Ottawa team is to be revived after a season off, they'd have to do another expansion-type draft to restock the team.

They could do some kind of compensation system. You can either let the player go back to the Renegades or keep it and give the Rens a draft pick equivalent to the round in which that player was selected in the dispersal draft. So if the Bombers wanted to keep Joseph, they'd give the Rens their 1st draft pick.

Of course, the Rens would most probably prefer to keep the player and not the draft pick, but you can't be too picky when a whole league tries to accomodate itself just to keep you alive.

Either have a team which will include a new owner now or at year end. Meaning the league has to prop up.
If not, shut it down and stay with 8, until QC and Halifax are ready to go.
Let's not play will take your franchise and will give it back to you in a year, maybe.

I still disagree with the concept of putting the franchise on hold for a year … but I suppose it’s better than folding the franchise. However, if you’re suspending the Renegades for a year, with the expectation that an owner will buy it for 2007, then why not have the League prop them up? That way the Renegades don’t lose any players, and the new owner doesn’t have to worry about them being what amounts to an expansion team. Also, from what I’ve heard the League is going to want a bond from the new owner, so as to cover these sorts of situations in the future. That bond could go towards the League, after they propped the Renegades up (They could get some of their money back).
If you know someone’s going to buy the Renegades for 2007, why not prop the team up for a year and save yourself the PR, and logistical, headaches that would come from suspending the team?

They could try to attract a new owner by offering a sweetheart of an 'expansion' draft...kind of like what the NHL did when the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks joined.

They could run the expansion draft and only allow existing teams to protect 20 or 25 players or something like that. That way the new Renegades would at least be assured of getting some starting-calibre talent out of the draft.

Something like that could jump-start the competitiveness of the Ottawa team and give the new owner at least a head-start towards running a respectable franchise.

That's my point. If Joseph is the better QB, wouldn't it be better to have Joseph in '06 and Martin in '07, than Martin in '06 and '07?

And no one is forcing anyone to take any player. If you would rather stand pat with what you have, you have every right to do so. If Winnipeg doesn't want to have Joseph for a year, then they don't pick him. Their choice. No team would be worse off because of the opportunity to bring in a better player for one season.

What alternative is there if the league suspends the franchise? A dispersal draft like the last one? Or void all of the Renegades' contracts, so they all become free agents? In either case, all these players are lost to the Renegades forever, and they have to rebuild from scratch next year. Then we have to have an "expansion" or "re-entry" draft, or whatever they choose to call it, in which every team will lose some of their best players, most of whom will not have been acquired from Ottawa to begin with. Or else have an expansion draft like the last one, and have Renegades fans refuse to support the team because, in their minds, they got screwed by the league.

No, my solution is better because: (a) no team will benefit from the dissolution of the Renegades' roster beyond the suspension period; (b) no team will suffer unduly once the suspension period ends; and (c) the Renegades will not benefit from the suspension by being able to rob the other teams of their best players. A year from now, everything will be, personnel-wise, as it would have been had the team not been suspended.

would Ottawa be better to but in 2007 than 2006? that's the question.

is it better to start off flash and new with new players or play with the ones you have?

Well, with the players they lose in the dispersal draft returned to them, plus any free agents they sign a year from now, plus the first pick in the 2007 college draft...there's no reason why they can't be better next year than they were last year. But it's got to be up to the team to improve...not up to the league to allow them to raid other teams of their players.

A dispersal draft, followed by an expansion draft a year from now, would be like (and I may be showing my age here) the "equalization draft" the league did in the mid-80s. In it, the two worst teams were allowed to take unprotected players off of the rosters of the other teams. It was set up so that no team could lose more than two players. While I believe it was intended to be a yearly event, the league did it once, before realizing what a bad idea it was.

Or did I dream it?