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Outgoing Sens executive Leeder said he had sense change was coming at the top

Leeder had sense change was coming in Ottawa

OTTAWA — Cyril Leeder said he had a sense his days leading the Ottawa Senators’ front office might be coming to a close.

“In business you get good at reading signs, you need to be,” Leeder said Wednesday. “I would be disingenuous if I didn’t say I saw signs of this coming, but you’re never really prepared for that kind of news.”

Leeder met with reporters a day after being replaced as president and chief executive officer of the Senators by Tom Anselmi. Owner Eugene Melnyk and alternate governor Sheldon Plenner informed Leeder of the change Tuesday morning during a meeting.

“It was professional, it was a cordial meeting,” said Leeder. “There was nothing untoward; it was just a business meeting.”

Leeder said he’s still trying to understand the need for the change, but said ultimately the decision was Melnyk’s to make.

“In business sometimes you make a change, you don’t need a reason to make a change, you just make a change. It’s a cold, hard fact in business and people in the sports business should know better than anybody because we’ll change coaches just because we need to make a change.

“I absolutely understand that and I’ve always known that and I respect and understand and acknowledge that Eugene has the absolute right to make that change and he did and he doesn’t need to give me a reason for it and he doesn’t need to give the public a reason so I’ve got no issues with that.”

One of the individuals responsible for Ottawa securing the NHL franchise, Leeder said he offered to stay on for a transition period through the end of the season, but understood it would have been difficult for Anselmi to have him around.

Melnyk said the scope of managing the downtown LeBreton Flats development, which includes a new NHL arena, played a large part in his decision to bring in Anselmi, but Leeder believes he was up to the task.

“Myself personally, if I had been afforded the opportunity, I think I could have delivered on the LeBreton project,” said Leeder. “I think I could have. I could have delivered for the organization, for the city.”

The 57-year-old has been with the organization when it was just an idea being tossed around and joked, “for the first time in 32 years I’m an unrestricted free agent.” Still dealing with a bit of shock, Leeder plans on taking some time before pursuing new opportunities.

“It’s scary, it’s exciting. I really haven’t thought about in any detail the next step.”

Leeder’s attachment to the organization runs deep and he showed emotion as he spoke to the media. Having been a part of so many milestones Leeder admitted he’s especially proud of the $110 million contributed to community initiatives during his tenure. He said his greatest regret was not being able to win a Stanley Cup.

Leeder said his job forced him to miss a lot of time with his family, and he is thankful for their support.

“You were always hoping I’d be around for a few extra hours a week, careful what you wish for,” Leeder said to his wife.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press