Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk confirmed that head coach Paul MacLean will be back behind the bench next season, but he was vague on the future of captain Jason Spezza.

Melnyk, speaking in a conference call with Ottawa-based reporters Tuesday, answered a wide ranging assortment of questions on everything from his disappointment at missing the playoffs to increased revenues stemming from new broadcast deals to his belief that the best way to find success is internally, rather than spending lavishly on free agents.

First and foremost, he provided a sense of security for MacLean, while ackowledging that the head coach had “a bad year”, like so many others.

“Paul is our coach, he’s going to be our coach going into next year,” said Melnyk, who suggested that there could be other changes within the coaching staff and hockey operations department.

While he cleared up MacLean’s status, the water is still muddy as far as Spezza is concerned.

“Jason understands what his role was and is,” said Melnyk. “He’s a professional and understands that he could be here today and gone tomorrow, or he could stay long term and be with the team for many years. (His future) is dependent on on what other pieces we need to put together.

“He’s one of 20 plus players. You can’t put all on his shoulder.”
Spezza has one year remaining on his contract and has a no-trade clause, but the team would be reluctant to go into the final year of his deal without having a long-term contract in place, risking losing him for nothing when he becomes a free agent in July, 2015.
For all the bleakness from the on-ice disappointment – Melnyk’s deepest frustrations came when the club lost to struggling clubs such as the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames – he painted a happy picture about the business side of the operations, claiming the team is on sound financial ground.

He says the NHL’s new broadcast deal and the club’s partnership with Canadian Tire are positives.

At the same time, however, Melnyk says that doesn’t mean he’s going to spend to the NHL salary cap. He insists the best avenue to success is spending money “behind the scenes”, scouting properly and on developing players from within.