So you agree Ottawa didn't/doesn't deserve a team. The team couldn't generate enough revenue to stay viable in its old rink nor could it generate enough revenue from its new rink to pay for it. Payroll problems are not it doesn't look good. Took a near free rink to make them almost viable.
No doubt the application should have been rejected by the NHL expansion committee. It wasn't. Tampa and Ottawa got franchises because there were only two groups willing to put up $50 million US for a franchise.
But once the rink was built, Ottawa became an excellent market.
All during the period that Ottawa was the poster boy for the NHL small markets I dumped on Rod Bryden, calling him a liar and worse. I earned much enmity from Senator fans. While I don't think I was ever far wrong on the Senator saga, at the end I had to tip my hat to Bryden in the sense that he got the rink built and in doing so, proved the market. If Quebec City or Winnipeg had managed to get a rink built, NHL hockey would have flourished in those places, too.
The whole story was great for fans who were interested in the business side. Most of it - including the Ottawa books - became public. As one friend of mine said after following it closely, "Everything we have heard about the business of the NHL is a lie."
Melnyk got the team and the rink for a song. It was a terrific deal for him. He simply can't lose.