Don Cherry says Sens will leave if fan attendance doesn't increase
'[If] you don't sell out in the playoffs you'll never sell out,' said HNIC personality
Hockey commentator Don Cherry says the Senators will leave Ottawa if the club doesn't find a way to draw more fans to their games.
The "Hockey Night in Canada" personality was speaking on his weekly Coach's Corner segment during the first intermission of the NHL 100 Classic game in the nation's capital between the Senators and Montreal Canadiens.
His prediction comes after comments made by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who brought up the possibility of relocation on Friday, took a shot at fans and said a new downtown arena might never happen.
"If people don't show up and pack the place all the time... you can't survive with 13,000," Cherry said. "He's gone, Ottawa's gone for sure, don't know where, but Quebec would be nice."
Ottawa made the Eastern Conference final last season and took the eventually Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to double overtime of Game 7. Despite missing out on the Cup final by just a goal, Melnyk said the organization was, "begging people to buy a ticket."
"[If] you don't sell out in the playoffs you'll never sell out," said Cherry.
Tired of seeing too many empty seats, the NHL club made the decision in the off-season to reduce capacity at Canadian Tire Centre by 1,500 to about 17,000. Rows in the upper bowl are currently covered with tarps.
"I don't blame him at all, he cannot survive with 13,000 people," said Cherry. "I'm not saying he should move [downtown Ottawa] but it's too far out Kanata."