OK, so that wasn’t pretty, Ottawa Senators fans.
Downright ugly, in fact. After giving up a pair of touchdowns in the past two home games (7-1 loss to Colorado, 7-2 to Philadelphia), your Senators have now surrendered 30 goals in six games, for a gruesome goals against average of five per game.
Are you going to stand for this?
Well, the truth is, you might have to. No one promised this rebuild was going to happen overnight. Neither Rome, nor the hockey organization with the Roman motif was built in a day. So, let’s look on the bright side.
Top 10 Reasons to Rejoice in a Rebuild:
1. Unpredictability. Wasn’t it boring going to all those home games when the Senators were an elite team and you just knew they’d find a way to get the two points? Who needs it. Now, on any given night, who can tell? This young Senators team was terrific against Dany Heatley and the Minnesota Wild, and played Washington tough, but have been sunk by gyrating periodic funks against other opponents. Who’s to say they won’t turn around and give the Winnipeg Jets (Thursday) and Columbus Blue Jackets (Saturday) what-for?
2. Rebuilds can spark interesting sub-culture movements. Already in Ottawa there is a ‘Fail for Nail’ groundswell gaining support. Nail, of course, is Nail Yakupov, the teenage Russian sensation playing for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. A right winger, Yakupov has a blistering 25 points in just 10 games played and is the early pick to go first overall in next June’s NHL entry draft. The team that finishes last overall has the best chance at drafting Yakupov. Matthew 20:16: So, the last shall be first . . .
3. Learn to scout in your spare time. Following a rebuilding team necessitates monitoring the prospect lists filed by NHL Central Scouting, the Red Line Report, McKeen’s and International Scouting Services (ISS). One of these future stars will land here. Anticipating the arrival of future players is half the fun.
4. Four point games still exist. It’s just that they’re not “four-pointers” against a fellow playoff contender, but four-pointers against fellow lottery pick rivals. Ergo: these games against the Jets and Jackets are huge!
5. “Is my mother listening?” Losing teams are far more quotable than winning ones. Head coach Paul MacLean’s opening line, when asked to react to the Philly debacle was a beauty. Keep ‘em coming, coach.
6. There’s always the fantasy pool. Just because the Senators are laggards in the standings doesn’t mean individual Ottawa players can’t help you be successful in your fantasy life. For example, defenceman Erik Karlsson is one of the league’s high-flyers in assists and points. Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek are also close to a point-per game pace.
7. Beat the traffic. At the best of times, Senator Fan ranked only below Los Angeles Dodger Fan in heading home early to beat the traffic. These are NOT the best of times. So, fans are taking advantage of one-sided games to blow out of Scotiabank Place halfway through the third period, staggering the exit times and making it easy for working people and hard core fans to leave the parking lot after the games.
8. Less Stress. Stress can be deadly. Stress can lead to heart attacks, strokes, hair loss. There’s a lot less stress monitoring the trials and tribulations of a rebuilding team. Fall out of playoff contention and games become meaningless, save for the investment in player development. Wins and losses aren’t what matter in a youth movement. It’s getting a David Rundblad, a Jared Cowen and a Stephane Da Costa precious playing time and experience at the game’s highest level so that down the road, when the games matter again, they will be ready.
9. Enjoy the scenery. In the early years, going to Senators games was less about the home team than it was about relishing the stars of the league paying a visit. Sure the expansion Senators sucked, but here comes Wayne, and Mario and Teemu Selanne. Ottawa was new to the league, it was a novelty to have the best and brightest teams and players in town, and few got discouraged because the home team was bad. So what if it may be a long while before the Senators play a meaningful game again. There is something to be said for having Sidney Crosby (when he returns to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup), Alex Ovechkin and Claude Giroux pay regular visits to Ottawa.
10. Save money! Eugene’s loss is your gain. Save a bundle on playoff tickets and take your family on a vacation. Or take advantage of the fact there are 41 home dates and attend a few more regular season games than you might have if you had to worry about finding the cash to scare up playoff tickets. When the Senators do get back into the post-season, the wait will have been worth it.
There now, don’t you feel better?