Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has died of illness, the team said late Monday. He is 62 years old.
The Senators made the announcement Monday night. The cause of his death was not immediately known.
“It is with great sadness that Eugene Melnyk’s family and the Ottawa Senator’s hockey organization announce his death on March 28, 2022 after an illness he faced with determination and courage,” the team said in a statement. “Eugene has never wavered in his desire and commitment to bringing the Stanley Cup to the nation’s capital.
Under his ownership, the Senators played in the 2007 Stanley Cup final and the 2017 Conference Finals. Eugene believes the current team of talented players and coaching staff he and his organization are building will challenge and ultimately fulfill that championship promise. “
Melnyk, a Toronto native, has had a Senator since 2003. In 2007, Ottawa reached the Stanley Cup before losing five games to the Anaheim Ducks.
In a statement, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman paid tribute to Melnyk.
“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of owner Ottawa Senator Eugene Melnyk,” Bettman said. “The words ‘passion’ and ‘commitment’ define a person who has had an Ottawa Senator since 2003.
“Despite being successful in business, it is our game and his Senator that he loves the most. Eugene is often outspoken but he maintains a steadfast commitment to the game and his roots and he likes nothing more than wearing a Senator sweater and cheering on his beloved team.
“On behalf of the entire National Hockey League, I extend my deepest sympathies to Eugene’s daughters, Anna and Olivia, his extended family, and everyone who has benefited from his generosity.”
Senator captain Brady Tkachuk tweeted words of condolences Monday evening.
Mr Melnyk provided me, my teammates and the many Sens players who came before us with the opportunity to make our dreams come true. The Ottawa community will miss you very much. Condolences to your family. https://t.co/lNeXwUDurF
Melnyk is the owner, governor, and chairman of the Ottawa Senator and Belleville Senator of the American Hockey League. He is also the founder and former chairman of Biovail Corp., which was once Canada’s largest pharmaceutical company.
Most recently, he was chairman and chief executive of Neurolign, a startup medical device company and chairman of the Clean Beauty Collective, a boutique company that manufactures ethically sourced products.
Diligent, generous horse breeder
He is also an Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Melnyk was a successful thoroughbred horse racer, twice named Canada’s top owner. His horses won all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, including Archers Bay capturing the ’98 Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes en route to being crowned Canadian champion of the three-year-old stallion.
Archers Bay is named after an area famous for its sunsets in northwest Barbados. The donkey was Melnyk’s first horse to ever run on Queen’s Plate and the win confirmed his decision to spend $125,000 on Deputy Silver’s son at the annual Kentucky sale.
In 2013, Melnyk scaled back his horse racing operations and switched from breeding to purchasing puppies and racing instead. Melnyk was inducted into the Canadian Hose Racing Hall of Fame in 2017.
He is also a philanthropist at the Senators Community Foundation, investing more than $100 million in local charities and community programs that help children and youth throughout the capital area.
Melnyk is a primary donor to Anna House, a daycare facility in Belmont, NY, and Roger Nielson House, a pediatric palliative care facility in Ottawa named after a beloved former coach.
“Total troublemaker. Alcohol aficionado. Social media specialist. Friendly travel nerd.”