For many Ottawa Senators fans, owner Eugene Melnyk's comments about relocating the arena could not have come at a worse time.
The team's owner opened up about the Sens' struggles and the lack of fan support during an alumni game on Parliament Hill Friday, less than 24 hours before the capital will host the NHL 100 Classic.
He said he's not convinced a downtown arena is necessary for the franchise and complained of "begging" fans to buy tickets.
Despite Melnyk's comments about the perceived lack of enthusiasm for the team, many Senators fans were showing their support at the outdoor game on Saturday.
"I don't know how he thinks there's going to be more people buying tickets if he comes out and says things like that," said Stephen Hanley, who travelled all the way from Glasgow, Scotland for the match against the Montreal Canadiens.
"I think [it would be better] for him to be a bit more positive about the situation or just settle up and leave."
Although Hanley doesn't live in Canada, he became a fan after visiting family in the area five years ago. He called being at the outdoor classic a once in a lifetime experience.
He was dismayed by Melnyk's comments and wondered why he would attack the people who bring in revenue for the team.
'A downward spiral'
"What's the point of taking a shot at fans if it's just going to get worse? It's a downward spiral from there," Hanley said.
"I think he just needs to take a look at himself."
Another Senators fan, Phil Fortin, also wasn't impressed that Melnyk targeted fans instead of taking a closer look at his own role.
"It's kind of his fault. He's done a bad job of promoting the team. He's cut a lot on the marketing side," Fortin said. "I think it starts with him, for the most part."
Others expressed concerns that if the Senators cut back on players' salaries to make up lost revenue, the team wouldn't perform as well — leading to a snowball effect.
"Take away money, the team gets worse. People stop coming even more," said Connor Rhud. "It's just terrible."
Many Senators fans also took aim at Melnyk's comments on social media.
his timing could not be worse— @OttawaAvSpotter
A Debbie Downer to his own event...— @maxhsanity
Is there any other business where the vendor threatens the customer when the customer isnt buying because they have issue with the product? We are talking about selling hockey in Ottawa. Hold a mirror up. Ask some tough questions. Dialogue, not threats.— @scottawarattray
Well @MelnykEugene you just cost yourself a fan.— @chriswynn83
Hey Mr. Melnyk @ottawasenators - it’s simply not a value proposition, the ROI verses the level of entertainment. Have you been to a Red Blacks game? Your complaints around Ottawa are not helping in developing support in our community for your organization.— @PaulDup88279262
As a fan - as a resident I am so tired of his belly-aching and claims of poverty - if he isn't capable off and competent enough to handle the business of a hockey team then sell it to others who have these - we won't miss you.....— @Ronchie53
I hate being threatened by a millionaire— @pastapavia