It’s The System’s world, we’re just living in it.
We count down the top 11 reasons for Ottawa Seantors’ fans to be optimistic about this team, this season and beyond.
11. New Logo and Jerseys
This has been a long time coming. The Senators have some of the worst primary jerseys in the league. Recently, new President and CEO, Tom Anselmi, announced that the team is seriously considering switching to the heritage ‘O’ concept full time, starting next season or the season after. While some fans and players are split between the heritage design and the original 2D centurion design, both of which may be potential options moving forward, either would be a huge improvement for the team and give the Senators’ an identity they can be proud of (and jerseys that fans can be proud of wearing).
10. New Arena
Another big up-and-coming change to be excited about is the development of LeBreton Flats and the construction of a brand new NHL arena. The new arena would replace the current Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, and be part of an integrated community in the heart of downtown Ottawa. While the current arena itself is still somewhat serviceable, especially given its recent luxury upgrades, it’s all about location, location, location. The new arena isn’t slated to open until the 2020-21 season, so Sens fans will have to wait a little while longer for this one. But it’ll be worth every second to finally, FINALLY, be able to watch games at a state-of-the-art arena in the heart of Ottawa.
9. New President/CEO
The firing of long-time President and CEO, Cyril Leeder, caught many fans by surprise. The timing of the decision seemed awfully odd, coming in the middle of a busy season for the Senators, particularly in terms of community involvement with the ongoing Ottawa 2017 festivities, which Leeder was involved with. Nonetheless, Leeder was replaced by former MLSE boss, Tom Anselmi. Anselmi has already won many fans over, with the promise of looking at introducing new jerseys, getting the LeBreton arena done on time and on budget, as well as bolstering the notably small Senators’ front office. This last point is one of the more exciting aspects that Anselmi can bring to the team, as Ottawa has one of the smallest, if not the smallest, front offices in the league, leading to scouting, training, and personnel deficiencies in years past.
8. New GM & Coach (feat. #TheSystem)
Whatdoyaknow, apparently hiring an experienced NHL coach can vastly improve your team. What Boucher has been able to achieve with this group is nothing short of phenomenal. Forget the win-loss ratios, and even forget the point totals for a minute. Boucher has found a way to introduce structure and consistency to his team, something that was severely lacking with predecessors. His system (patent pending) was able to turn Borowiecki into a serviceable defenceman. Erik Karlsson leads the league in blocked shots. Tom Pyatt is…good? Boucher started the season with largely the same roster as Cameron had last year, and managed to completely re-tool the way the team plays.
Of course, Pierre Dorion is a big part of this as well. I’ve tried to hate the moves he has made, but he constantly proves me wrong at every turn. Brassard is starting to pick up his game, and the points are following. Tom Pyatt has played a big role in terms of penalty killing and brings an element of speed to this team.
And Alex freaking Burrows, in the trade that had me swearing off this team, has come in and scored four goals so far for the Senators and continues to defy my expectations for him. Dorion’s worst move so far might be signing Chris Kelly in the summer, and that’s a super minor qualm as he was signed to a low risk, one-year contract at the beginning of the season, a season that many experts and fans had Ottawa pegged as missing the playoffs.
7. Four-Line Team
This. This is something that the Sens haven’t had in years. MacLean and Cameron threw their lines in a blender and prayed that something would stick. Not Boucher. He was able to get results in the first half of the season, with largely the same team as last year, with the additions of Brassard, Pyatt, and Kelly.
He quickly noticed some deficiencies in his bottom-six lines, as did we all, and he and Dorion worked together to plug the leaks. Since the trade deadline, the Senators have really bolstered their roster. Even in the absence of Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, the Senators can roll 4 competitive forward lines at all time, and it’s showed over the last 7 or so games.
6. Craig Anderson
What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Craig Anderson’s season has been filled with ups and downs, both on and off the ice. Coming off his franchise-leading 147th win with the Senators on Saturady, it’s safe to say that he’s never looked better with this team. He’s a big part of the reason the team is where it is, and he’ll be a huge determinant of how the Sens fare in the playoffs. Not to discredit the work that Mike Condon has put in as well, but there’s no doubt that Craig is the number one goaltender moving forward for this team. And he’s pretty freaking great guys.
5. Daniel Alfredsson
The man, the myth, the legend. The face of the franchise came home to Ottawa and saw his number raised to the rafters this past year. Alfredsson was the first player in modern franchise history to have his number retired by the team, and it was a memorable night for fans and players alike. The ceremony was absolutely perfect, and will probably be the best game of the regular season for fans that were in attendance or tuned in on TV. It was a chance for fans to say thank you for all the memories, all the community work, and all the incredible years that Alfie played with the team, and it was no doubt an emotional night for all involved, as he has been the face of this franchise since he entered the league in 1994.
4. Building a Heritage
This is a culmination of a lot of things, some mentioned in this list so far. Something that the Senators have always seemingly been lacking is a deep history, especially compared to Toronto or Montreal. But to paraphase Tom Anselmi, we’re not Toronto, we’re not Montreal, but you know what’s that’s okay, because we’re Ottawa.
For what seems to be the first time ever, the team is making a visible effort to re-connect with their roots. This past season, the team retired its first number in modern history and announced an exciting new arena development. From the yet-to-be-announced outdoor game at TD Place in December, commemorating the first NHL game, to the heritage logo and jerseys likely to be introduced full-time in coming seasons, to the team’s 25th anniversary coinciding with Canada’s 150th anniversary, Ottawa is growing up as a franchise, and it’s exciting to be able to look back on key moments in Senators’ history and reminisce about days gone by, while still keeping an eye on the future.
3. Erik Karlsson
2. Top Prospects
The Senators have multiple legitimate blue-chip prospects for the first time in a long time. Colin White, Thomas Chabot, Logan Brown, and others are coming down the pipes within the next few years. While the Binghamton (soon to be Belleville) Senators are a mess to say the least, the injection of youth into both the AHL and NHL clubs will hopefully prove to be beneficial. My only hope is that the Senators don’t get trigger happy with their promising young stars and give them a look in Binghamton before joining the big club (I’m looking at you, Cody Ceci).
1. First. In. The. Division.
Who would have thought we’d be saying that at the beginning of the season? But here we are. While it may be short lived, depending on how Montreal plays down the stretch, it’s almost guaranteed that the Senators are going to be playing beyond the regular season. I won’t say any more at risk of jinxing it, but this is the first time in a looooooooooong time that I’ve been this optimistic about the Ottawa Senators’ both present and future.