What’s In A Number?

An argument for retiring some less popular Senators’ numbers.

For such a young franchise, the Ottawa Senators have had some pretty incredible talent on and off the ice. From the wonder-years of Hossa, Redden, Alfredsson, Heatley, Spezza, Chara, Havlat, Fisher, and Hasek, to the blunder-years of Yashin, Cowen, Lee, and, yes, Heatley again, the Senators’ all-time roster is a mixed bag of good, bad, and atrocious.

With the recent retirement of Alfie’s number 11, we take a look at some other Senators’ players, both past and present, and make the objective case for their numbers to be retired one day (however unlikely that may be).

1. Wade Redden #6 (1996-2008)

A staple on the Senators’ blueline between 1996 and 2008, Wade Redden was a clear fan favourite, for obvious reasons. The Saskatchewan native and longtime alternate captain of the Senators put up respectable point totals every year, his career high of 50 coming in the 2005-2006 season. He was perennially a plus player, only once dipping below zero in the 1999-2000 season (a cool -1). Redden represented Team Canada at the World Juniors, winning gold twice. He also was a member of the 2006 Olympic squad. He played in 1023 career NHL games, 838 of those with Ottawa, collecting 109 goals and 457 points along the way.

After leaving the Senators in the summer of 2008, he signed with the New York Rangers, a contract that was widely criticized as his play declined. He would go on to play 2 seasons with the Rangers before being demoted to the AHL. In 2012, the St. Louis Blues took a chance on Redden, where he played 23 games. He ended his career in Boston, playing only 6 games before retiring. Today, he is an Assistant Director of Player Development with the Nashville Predators. Is his distinguished career enough to one day land his #6 amongst the Senators greats? Bobby Ryan and Chris Wideman might have something to say about that…

2. Chris Phillips #4 (1997-2015)

The former first round pick in the 1996 NHL entry draft, Chris Phillips quietly had a very nice NHL career. A stay-at-home defenseman, the Big Rig amassed 288 points in 1179 regular season games for the Senators. His 1179 games of action rank him first in franchise history, just 1 more than fellow Senators’ staple and long-time captain, Daniel Alfredsson (who is more than welcome to come out of retirement to beat it).

Phillips also receives The System’s lifetime achievement award (media are already lobbying for Drew Doughty to receive it next year) for his commitment to the Senators’ organization for his entire career; a rare feat in today’s game. While many fans were certainly vocal about his loyalty to the team, despite poor performance and multiple injuries, he certainly had an admirable early career in Ottawa, and was present for almost all of the big Senators’ moments in franchise history.

3. Chris Neil #25 (2001-present)

Let me preface this by saying I am in no way a Chris Neil enthusiast. With that out of the way, let’s look at the objective facts.

Neil has played 1023 NHL games, all for the Senators. He is well in line for a lifetime achievement award, like Phillips. Neil took the long road to success, entering the league as a 6th round draft pick, toiling for years in the OHL, UHL, ECHL, and IHL, before making his NHL debut in 2001. During the Senators’ run for the cup in 2007, he put up 28 points in the regular season, only 5 shy of his personal best the season before. He thrived in an era of enforcers, and provided much needed grit during many playoff runs.

Nearing the end of his career, his value has diminished significantly. Gone (for the most part) are the days of enforcers playing a pivotal role in hockey. Without delving too much into heart/grit debate (*ducks flying objects being thrown at me*), I will say this: Neil has had a memorable career with the Senators, and was there alongside Alfredsson and Phillips when the Senators were at their best.

4. Marian Hossa #18 (1997-2004)

Perhaps the least likely to have his number retired by the Senators, but the most likely to have his number retired by another team one day, Marian Hossa was the one that got away. During his (relatively short) tenure with the Senators, he put up impressive numbers and was a big part of the Senators’ early success. Even today, as a 38 year old winger on the Chicago Blackhawks, he continues to produce at a consistent level. With 1125 points in 1291 games and counting, he is one of the hockey greats without a doubt. But is he a Senators great? In the infamous words of Daniel Alfredsson, “probably not”.

Had he not been traded by the club, he likely would have surpassed Alfredsson’s numbers in numerous categories, including, goals, games played, and point totals. But alas, we can only think of what would have been if he had stayed.

5. Jason Spezza #19 (2002-2014)

Jason Spezza was maybe the best thing to come out of Toronto in years. Playing for the Senators between 2002 and 2014, Spezza was another fan favourite in Ottawa. He even got his own rally (there’s a joke in here somewhere…). Playing in 686 games with Ottawa, Spezza was consistently a point-per-game player. Like the other names on this list, Spezza was there for all the Senators’ big moments. He was being primed for the captaincy for years. Once Daniel Alfredsson left for Detroit mysteriously disappeared, Spezza was awarded the honour. If Jonathan Toews is Captain Serious, Spezza was Captain Giggles. His tenure as captain was short-lived however, as he reportedly asked for a trade, which in the summer of 2014, saw him going to the Dallas Stars in return for spare parts. He continues to be hampered by injuries in Dallas, and is likely nearing the end of his playing career if he cannot stay healthy. Nonetheless, Spezza was a key member of a young Seantors’ franchise, a staple on the “Pizza Line”, and gave it his all on the ice every game.

BONUS ROUND

6. Dany Heatley #15 (2005-2009)

Lol. Not gonna touch this one.

Do you think we’ll see any of these players’ numbers in the rafters at the LeBreton Flats arena one day? Let us know in the comment section below and don’t forget to take our poll!

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