Wow, can you believe that training camp opens this weekend? The longest offseason in 12 years will soon be at an end and I really hope that the good vibe surrounding this team in March/April can find its way back this month. I'm not going to say that I look forward to moving past the Heatley saga because to be honest, the excitement of the trade request is what got us through this summer! Imagine how long this would have been if we hadn't had anything to talk about between April and now? Thanks, Dany, for keeping us busy!
Back to our roster of former Sens. We've gone through the forward ranks and put together a decent group of 12 along with a nice taxi squad. We're now at the blue line and these ones are pretty cut and dry, as far as I'm concerned. The only place where it gets blurry is when you get into that 6th spot and you have to decide between recent Sens on good teams, or original Sens on bad teams. Who has what it takes to round out our top six that can eat up some minutes but won't be upset at not getting all the accolades?
1. Zdeno Chara: (299 games, 51g, 95a, 146pts, 554 PIM, 2001-2006, 0.4883 pts per game)
Plain as day, Zee is the one that got away. At this point in time, there isn't a single person out there that doesn't realize we signed the wrong $6.5M defenceman when he and Redden were up for contract together. It isn't that Redden was bad (spoiler alert - he's on this list), but you just don't let a 6'9" player that can skate, hit, shoot, and lead get away. I am one of the few people that misses pieces of John Muckler, but this one was just plain stupid. It doesn't even take hindsight, really. Wade Reddens are born and bred all across Canada - average size, decent skater, good vision. Awesome, thanks. When you have a player with Chara's physical attributes, you know that he is a once in a lifetime player. And spare me the 'he wanted to be a captain' BS. Had we called him first with the $6.5M offer, this team would be in a much different place right now. After joining us as an add-on to the Spezza/Yashin trade, we taught him to skate and he's now busy winning Eastern Conferences and Norris Trophies. One knock on him, though - is he a captain that can win when it counts? So far, no.
2. Wade Redden: (838 games, 101g, 309a, 410pts, 576 PIM, 1996-2008, 0.4893 pts per game)
I'm tempted to pull my punches on this one because Redden did so much more for us than we're going to give him credit. This was a guy that lost his mother during the playoffs one year against Tampa and came back with a goal and assist in his first game back. While we all hate talking about community involvement, few were better at providing opportunities throughout the city than Wade. And he was no slouch on the ice, once upon a time. Just because he left us in terrible condition on a contract that he no longer warranted, don't let it diguise the fact that he was often seen as one of the best passers in the league. To see where he is today is an absolute shame, to be honest, because he was our perfect powerplay QB. There are so many theories to explain is epic fall from grace, but it just seems that the game moved on and his legs haven't kept up. If we're talking about a top pairing of former Sens, though, Redden is an absolute must on this team.
3. Steve Duchesne: (140 games, 31g, 52a, 83pts, 80 PIM, 1995-1997, 0.5929 pts per game)
The first of two players on this list with some of the most clutch goals in Sens history, Du-Du-Du-Duchesne was the real deal for us. We had him for some of his decent years and even though he was a journeyman, he really left his mark on this franchise. True, he never found the magic that pushed him to an 82 point season in Quebec, he still earned his keep in Kanata. In addition to putting up solid numbers in his two seasons, he scored what was without a doubt, the greatest goal in Senators history up to that point (don't worry, I remember the goals since then...). This video not only serves as a shout out to Duchesne, but I think it really acts as a great primer for training camp opening this weekend. This is one of those 'where were you when' moments in Sens history. For this clutch goal and his strong career, Duchense cracks our top four on the blue line.
4. Andrej Meszaros: (246 games, 26g, 84a, 110pts, 213 PIM, 2005-2008, 0.4472 pts per game)
Some might argue that Meszy didn't do enough in his short time here to earn this spot, but I think that is just bitterness speaking. Plus, we did alright with that trade, didn't we? Considering we basically landed Campoli, Kuba, and Picard for him, win goes to Ottawa. And the fact remains that he was an above average player for us. Part of it is from playing with a better version of Wade Redden and part of it is from being a talent. He never missed a game with us and didn't really have any overwhelming weaknesses in his game. He followed the money and might have a decent time with guys like Hedman and Ohlund now, though I still think he and his agents made a mistake asking for too much too soon. Solid player that might not get the chance to fully develop in a weak organization.
5. Norm MacIver: (161 games, 24g, 73a, 97pts, 120 PIM, 1992-1995, 0.6025 pts per game)
The best of our early blueliners, MacIver was a no-brainer to make this roster. An undrafted college grad, this dude was our leading scorer in our first year. Whether that is a knock on how bad the forwards were or a testament to how good MacIver was is for your own debate at the pub. What can't be argued is that he put up 63 points that season and was a beacon of excitement in a statistically tough inaugural season. A quick FYI, he also scored the last ever goal for the Winnipeg Jets. The 63 points in Ottawa in 92-93 was his best offensive season. He was an assistant in the Bruins organization for a couple of seasons and is now an amateur scout with the Blackhawks. Here's a non-MacIver video, but still fun to check out the hairstyles that technically occurred in the 90s! Civic Centre rocked and that anthem singer looked familiar...
6. Brad Shaw: (149 games, 11g, 53a, 64pts, 93 PIM, 1992-1995, 0.4295 pts per game)
Okay, so Shaw wasn't a great point producer in his three seasons with us. What he does bring, though, is great leadership and coaching. He can be the mentor to Meszaros out there and advise him to take a long-term contract offer with the Sens. But seriously, he's another original Sens player that trucked through the difficult seasons when the fans really couldn't care less about winning or losing. He was a co-captain for us in 93-94 with Mark Lamb and Gord Dineen and has gone on to some decent coaching stints since, including a brief stay with the Isles as interim coach in 2006. He was never a mainstay in the NHL, often dipping to the minors, but he still managed a pair of strong years with us. His spot on this roster is also helped by his time with 67s and our love affair will all things Brian Kilrea has been around. Sadly, a google search for Brad Shaw comes up with more hits for Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw now than the one we're looking for. Stay with this - Brad Shaw shares the last name of Sarah Jessica Parkers character. She is married to Matthew Broderick, who we will fondly remember for his role as Ferris Bueller. In that movie, Cameron Frye is often wearing a Gordie Howe jersey (weird, because they're in Chicago). Gordie Howe had a hockey family, including his son Marty that played with the Hartford Whalers and their minor league affiliate in Binghamton. Marty's teammate during those years was none other than the number six guy on this list, Brad Shaw. BAM! Who needs Kevin Bacon?
There are some solid guys on this list that deserve to be mentioned.
Joe Corvo and Tom Preissing were stastically better than Shaw, but neither guy wanted to stay with the team. Preissing informed Muckler during the playoffs that he wanted out, Corvo asked numerous times for a trade before being sent to Carolina. Their names are mentioned because they could skate and because they were a part of our Cup Finalist team. Joe Corvo's goal in Game Two was one of the best moment in Sens history as it gave us our first ever 2-0 series lead and really propelled us to domination in that series.
I also think Curtis Leschyshyn was a great asset for us. Statistically, he was truly awful, but he came with a Cup ring and was a major mentor to the team's young defencemen. During some of those tough playoff losses, he was one of the ones with Alfie that had to stand in front of the microphones and speak for our shortcomings. He was a great leader for us when people were still unsure if Alfie was up to the task (obviously, we know he can handle those duties now).
Two guys that don't make the HM list are Shane Hnidy and Karel Rachunek, simply because I've said more swear words at these two guys than just about any other Senators player. Thanks for all the turnovers, guys.
That's it for the defencemen. There are at least a dozen other good players out there and I'd love to hear from you on who is unjustly left off this list.
Goalies will be up midweek.