henanigans? Shenanigans. This is an odd story that harkens back to the days when the NHL was the only sports league in which the owners went to prison more often than the players, starring a writer for the famed unreliable hockey blog, HockeyBuzz, known as Travis Yost, and the owner of a poverty-stricken hockey team, known as Eugene Melnyk.
It all started on the 2nd of July, when, in response to news that the Ottawa Senators are "operating on a self-imposed $50 million salary cap", Yost wrote, "The reason for Ottawa's lack of spending obviously stems from owner Eugene Melnyk's either unwillingness or reluctance to open up the checkbook." Yost followed it up with a second article looking more closely at Melnyk's finances in an attempt to answer why Melnyk has been so reluctant to spend money on his team now, when just four years ago he emphasised spending to the cap as essential to competing for the Stanley Cup. Not done there, Yost added another six articles digging into Melnyk's financial rabbit hole (found here, here, here, here, here, and here), before the story culminated in Yost reporting that Melnyk is under NHL observation (that is, placed the team in a "watch-list") for the very reasons covered in his articles. According to his source:
It was this year when things really escalated with the NHL keeping a careful eye of ownership and the dollars-in, dollars-out. The team was expensing anything and everything to the league. And the league bit the bullet, stepped in and paid into it, because they're really worried about any missed payments. And they couldn't deal with another immediate disaster with Phoenix and New Jersey cooking.
How did Melnyk feel about Yost's reporting and the escalating fuss over his finances? In an e-mail to the Ottawa Sun, he said, "It's all B.S. coming from a random useless blogger. All this stuff is nonsense. Kinda annoying as well ... doing just fine thank you very much!" Deputy commissioner Bill Daly added, "There is no 'watch list.' And there is no concern (about the Senators). And you can quote me." Soon after, the Ottawa Citizen reported that, under Melnyk, the Sens have lost $94 million.
Now, so far, this is all fairly boring to people like me who care more about a team's possession numbers than its cap number. Neither is the concept of rich, old, white guys doing rich, old, white guy things new. But here comes the turn: coincidentally, Yost's account on HockeyBuzz has been hacked, and all of his work deleted. (You may have noticed that all of the links to Yost's articles are to cached pages.)
After tracing the deletions to Ukrainian hackers, Yost investigated a certain link the hackers used to entice clicks:
Coincidence? Incidentally, Melnyk isn't unfamiliar with Ukraine.
It's worth pointing out that Melnyk's involvement in the deletion of Yost's work remains conjecture, at this point. But when someone who is dismissed as a "random useless blogger" has his work deleted moments later, one has to ask: shenanigans? Shenanigans.
Stick-tap to Redditors bxgurl and PostPostModernMan for finding the cached articles.