Bloggers’ favourite Sens moments: The 6th Sens

To mark the 20th anniversary of the modern Ottawa Senators franchise, we asked several prominent bloggers to give us their favourite Sens moments. Next up: Graeme Nichols from The 6th Sens on a change of tone in the Battle of Ontario.

Bloggers’ favourite Sens moments: The 6th Sens
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators scores during the shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Thanks to the NHL’s lockout that erased the 2004-05 season, Senators fans had more than a year to brood over their game seven quarter-finals loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s a series that will live on in infamy because of Patrick Lalime’s inability to handle two eerily similar Joe Nieuwendyk shots from the top of the left circle. Of course, it doesn’t help that Leafs fans refuse to let us forget that the Senators have never beaten Toronto in a postseason series. Although in fairness to Leafs supporters, if my favorite team had not made the playoffs since 2004, it’s probably something I’d cling to too.

For years Senators fans have been reminded by their Leaf-supporting co-workers, friends and family members that Toronto’s physical dominance over the Senators had been the difference. That Ottawa was too soft. Played too much on the perimeter or that the coaches couldn’t make the necessary in-game adjustments to make up the difference.

Not surprisingly, playoff disappointment necessitated sweeping changes. Jacques Martin and Patrick Lalime were shown the door; replaced respectively by Bryan Murray and Dominik Hasek. Not even fan favourites were precluded from GM John Muckler’s wrath. In what probably was the team’s last blockbuster trade, Marian Hossa was dealt for the talented but troubled Dany Heatley.

Eventually when the lockout came to an end, Senators fans were left with a new team and new attitude. Perhaps no one personified this movement more than rookie pugilist Brian McGrattan – a player who provided me with one of my favorite moments in Senators history.

Allow me to introduce the setting of this moment:

On October 29th, 2005 at the Air Canada Centre, the third meeting of the 05-06 season between the Senators and Maple Leafs took place. In their previous two games that ended in two shootout victories for the Senators, the scores were too close for there to be much on-ice acrimony between the two clubs. Albeit, with Ottawa staked to a 4-0 lead in the early stages of the second period, an aging Tie Domi challenged the up-and-coming McGrattan to fight.

One right hand and Gene Simmons-like tongue protrusion later, McGrattan single-handedly let everyone know there was a changing of the guard in the Battle of Ontario. After those years of bullying, it was like a weight had been lifted. With that one McGrattan haymaker, all of Ottawa had channelled their animosity through that punch into one moment of pure cathartic bliss.

Two years later, the Senators were playing for the Stanley Cup.

Is that a coincidence?

I don’t think so. That one fight opened the floodgates for civic pride. It represented more than the Senators versus Toronto. It solidified our place as true challenger in the NHL.

Graeme Nichols is a founder, writer and editor at The 6th Sens blog and a member of the Citizen’s Senators prediction panel.

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