Then 89-year-old Frank Finnigan, the last surviving member of the 1926-27 Stanley Cup champion Senators, to Terrace Investments chairman Bruce Firestone, after Firestone and his group were awarded a conditional NHL franchise on Dec. 6, 1990, ending a 57-year absence.
“The crooks had good taste.”
– Senators assistant coach E.J. McGuire, halfway through the 1992-93 season after burglars broke into the team’s video room and stole six VCR’s, a large-screen television, and a satellite receiver but left the team’s game tapes.
“I have a wife and kids to think about.”
– Goalie Darrin Madeley, who was 4-23-5 with a 4.36 goals-against average from 1992-93 to 1994-95 and wondered if he would survive the stress.
“Look, if I’d known Mullen was open, I never would’ve passed it to Stevens.”
- Defenceman Ken Hammond analyzes a play during a Jan. 16, 1993 game that saw his pass out of the Ottawa zone intercepted by Penguin Kevin Stevens. Stevens then passed to Joey Mullen for a goal in what would be a 6-1 Pittsburg win.
“Now we know what the survivors of the Titanic felt like.”
- Hammond, after the first season, which ended with a record of 10 wins, 70 losses and 4 ties.
“I play competitive tennis and I want to go on the pro tour. I have to do something in the winter. It’s better than some nine-to-five job. I figured I had a better chance here. I think the key is to make a lot of mistakes so you can learn from them.”
- Then 23-year-old University of Western Ontario student Vincent Pun, who bought $1,000 worth of hockey equipment and showed up at the Kanata Rec Centre on Monday, Jan. 4, 1993, hoping for a tryout with the Senators – even though this was the first time he was in full equipment
“I knew he didn’t know much about hockey because he was running the bleachers in his skates.”
- Senators winger Mike Peluso, on Pun.
“He skates like (defenceman) Brad Marsh.”
– Centre Mark Freer, on Pun.
“I heard that.”
“Let’s make something perfectly clear. If anybody else shows up like this, I’ll lock the doors. This isn’t senior hockey, this is the National Hockey League.”
– Head coach Rick Bowness, who wasn’t amused.
“There are two NHL teams that will have achieved their goal this year: The Stanley Cup champion — and us.”
– Owner and governor Bruce Firestone, after a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins in the final game of the 1992-93 regular season ensured that the Senators would win the right to pick Alexandre Daigle with the No. 1 pick in the 1993 draft. This was one of several intemperate comments by Firestone that prompted an NHL investigation into allegations that the Senators tanked games to make sure they’d finish last.
“It was unlikely, in my view, that Mel would make the kind of contribution that the GM position has to make and that it was best for us, and probably in the long run for Mel, to make that decision now rather than drag along for another year or so and then make a conclusion like that.
– Senators CEO Rod Bryden, on April 15, 1993, explaining why general manager Mel Bridgman was being fired.
“Nobody remembers who was No. 2.”
– Alexandre Daigle, after he was picked first overall in 1993, ahead of Chris Pronger, who is indeed remembered.
“When you go into a game knowing there’s a 90 percent chance you will lose, it is tough to motivate yourself.
“You start to expect to lose.”
- Alexandre Daigle, during his first year.
“For the second year in a row, we believe we got the best player in the draft. To get a player of Radek Bonk’s calibre and maturity is absolutely thrilling.”
– General manager Randy Sexton, on June 28, 1994, one year after taking Alexandre Daigle in the 1993 NHL draft.
“I was just playing around and she (the flight attendant) took it seriously. I said to Trevor (Timmins, team scouting director), ‘Watch out for your bomb there’ and pointed to his computer. She wasn’t very happy I said it.”
– Alexandre Daigle, in Sept., 1996, after being hauled off a USAir flight at Pittsburgh International Airport, for making an ill-advised joke about a “bomb.”
The flight attendant notified the captain, who radioed a report to USAir ground control, which notified police. It didn’t help that Air Force One, carrying U.S. President Bill Clinton, was also on the tarmac at the time.
Daigle wasn’t allowed to continue with his teammates on the second leg of the trip to Tampa.
“It’s incredible to admit, but we were just trying to save face, to not lose too badly.
“You’re just embarrassed to be a part of it.”
– Centre Dan Quinn, who played the first half of the 1995-96 season before being shipped to Philadelphia for future considerations.
“Hockey isn’t fun anymore.”
– Goalie Don Beaupre, who played 71 games for the Senators from 1994-95 to 1995-96.
“It’s a happy day for the Ottawa Senators.”
– General Manager Randy Sexton, on Nov. 21, 1995, announcing that Dave Allison has been hired as head coach to replace Rick Bowness. It wasn’t a happy day for long: Allison was fired Jan. 24, 1996, after guiding the team to a 2-22-1 record.
“We needed to provide a spark or a lifting symbol to our team.”
– Sexton again, unwittingly providing Allison with his new nickname: Sparky
“I understand it would be much more popular if I were to fire Randy Sexton at the same time (as Bowness).
“I recognize Randy has not become the most popular general manager in the world. But I don’t happen to think (firing him) would be the right decision.”
- Owner Rod Bryden, in a conference call with reporters, explaining why he decided to fire Bowness but not Sexton.
“Hey, I’m not inventing a cure for cancer here.
“The last time I saw the puck, it was the same size in P.E.I. as it is here.
“I know there are going to be trials and tribulations. No question. But if we tackle our problems head on, honestly, and don’t carry any grudges, I believe we can rectify them.
“If not, I’ll hop in my blue truck and head home.”
– Allison, on Nov. 21, 1995, his first day on the job, a little more than one month before he hops in his blue truck and heads home.
“What is really needed is a hockey team that has the fans’ support and a general manager with the reasonable confidence of those in the league he works with.”
– Bryden, three weeks later, on Dec. 11, 1995, announcing that now the time was right to fire Sexton and replace him with Pierre Gauthier.
“More than anybody, more than Bruce Firestone or myself, Randy put the personal commitment into bringing hockey back to Ottawa.
“This is the first time I really feel embarrassed to be from Ottawa.”
- Then Palladium president and present team president Cyril Leeder, on Dec. 11, 1995, when good friend Randy Sexton was fired as general manager.
“Da, da, da, da, da, da. Da, da, da, da, da, da da.”
– On the morning of Dec. 9, 1995, asked if he was excited to coach in a nationally televised game that Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche, Dave Allison begins to hum the Hockey Night in Canada theme.
“We don’t have enough prospects to fill a full team.”
– General manager Pierre Gauthier, explaining, on April 30, 1996, why the Senators were pulling the plug on its money-losing AHL affiliate in Charlottetown.
“We did it dramatically, you have to admit that. But it feels just great. It’s extra special for me, because I look around and see how much it means to other guys, how they feel. I hear things like ‘This is my first time.’”
– Senators captain Randy Cunneyworth, after the Senators beat the Buffalo Sabres 1-0 in the final game of the 1996-97 regular season to make the playoffs for the first time.
“It kind of just disappeared. We used to carry it around with us everywhere we went and then one day it just went missing.”
– Former Senator Tom Chorske, on the fate of the wooden Buddha he carried around in his shaving kit during the 1996-97 season, which to many became the good luck charm that pushed the team to the playoffs for the first time.
“I am very, very happy because I know that the Senators are a young team and have a lot of great young players. I think it is a big team for the future.”
- Slovak forward Hossa, through his translator and agent Jiri Crha, after being selected in the first round (12th overall) of the 1997 draft in Pittsburgh
“God gave me something very good and if I work hard, maybe I can make something of it.”
– 17-year-old Drummondville centre Antoine Vermette, taken in the second round (55th overall) of the 2000 NHL draft in Calgary.
“You honor your contract. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a problem with what Yashin did. I think he let the whole team down, not just me. If he cannot play for $3.6 million, OK, no one is holding a gun to his head.
“But he was not thinking about the team. He was thinking about himself. And at the time he was the captain. There’s no captain in the NHL that lets his team down like that.”
- Vaclav Prospal, asked before the start of the 2000-01 training camp whether Alexei Yashin would be welcomed back by his teammates.
“If he was committed to play 100 per cent, and follow our system, we would want him here. “Of course, there would be (some awkwardness), but there’s nothing you can’t talk about. You have to play with open cards. In the long run, everyone wants to win.”
– Captain Daniel Alfredsson, asked the same question, the day before the team calls a press conference to announce that Alexei Yashin is ending his year-long holdout and returning for the 2000-01 season.
“I’m not going to apologize to my fans because I know a lot of fans still like me and still want me to play hockey.
“I’m here because I can’t play hockey anywhere else in the world. If I want to play hockey, I have to play for the Ottawa Senators.
“I will do my best and we’ll see what happens.”
– Yashin, unrepentant, announces that he is back for the 2000-01 season after holding out for the 1999-2000 season.
“Like I said before, I cannot control what the fans do or say.
“All I can do is concentrate on hockey and play the best hockey I can play for Ottawa and my teammates.”
– Yashin, booed mercilessly from coast-to-coast during the pre-season schedule, is booed again during Ottawa’s home opener on Oct. 7, 2000 but scores the first goal in a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars.
– Centre Vaclav Prospal, in December, 2000, during the worst slump of his career. He had one goal and 12 assists in 40 games for the Senators, before being traded on Jan. 21 to Florida.
“It was just a bad day, a really bad day.
“What can I say? You can be late for a meeting by five or 10 minutes, but if you miss a plane by that much, that’s it, you’re done. It’s the first time I’ve even been late for anything.
“I was in bed early (Saturday). I just slept through the alarm.”
- Defenceman Chris Phillips, after missing the team’s commercial flight to Florida on Feb. 20, 2000.
“I really couldn’t give a shit what you people have to say.”
- Goalie Tom Barrasso in a post-game, nation-wide interview with Hockey Night in Canada’s Scott Oake during the Leafs-Senators playoff series in 2000.
“Do you want me to stop the ones that are going wide, too?”
- Barrasso, in the same interview
“Mother Teresa would have a bad reputation in Ottawa. You can’t go down the street and so much as sneeze without something going wrong.”
- New York Islanders general manager Mike Milbury, justify his decision to obtain the much maligned and troublesome Alexei Yashin from the Senators in a blockbuster trade on June 23, 2001. The Senators obtained defenceman Zdeno Chara, the No. 2 draft pick (Jason Spezza), and Bill Muckalt.
“This is a man’s league and he’s still a boy.”
– Coach Jacques Martin, explaining why Jason Spezza was being sent to the minors after the 2001 training camp
“Doctors told me I should watch Leafs games to avoid excitement.”
– Senators assistant coach Roger Neilson, talking about his health on Nov. 4, 2002, the night he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Three years earlier, Neilson has been diagnosed with cancer.
“In the first period, I was a little rusty, but, after that, it was good
“It wasn’t such a hard game to coach. Just turn the lines over. I don’t know why they pay Jacques (Martin) so much money. Two years is a fair time to be away, but I felt more comfortable as the game went on. I had a good time.”
– Neilson, on coaching the 81st game of the 2001-02 season, and the 999th of his career, after Martin stepped aside for the final two games so Neilson could become the ninth to coach 1,000 NHL games.
“Obviously, it would be nice to score. But there are lots of other things you can do besides scoring: creating chances, playing physical and playing well defensively, just trying to help the team win.”
– Forward Bill Muckalt, just before the final regular-season game in 2001-02, in which he failed to score, to become the first Senator to play the bulk of a season (70 games) and not score a goal.
“If we could control it, we’d worry about it, but since we can’t control it, we don’t worry about it. We just go out and play hockey. It’s a tough game. You’ve got to be focused every night and when you’ve got something else on your mind, you’re not going to play very well.”
– Senators forward Shaun Van Allen after a refinancing deal fell through and then-owner Rod Bryden rung in 2003 by missing the payroll.
“We’ve still got enough sticks around, and there’s hot water coming out of the taps, and the lights are on in the dressing room.”
– Defenseman Wade Redden, on playing while waiting for their pay cheques.
“This isn’t the big bad banks chasing us out of town.
“We need to decide whether or not we are going to have a team in the city and whether we’re prepared to pay for it.”
– Then owner Rod Bryden after declaring bankruptcy in January, 2003, shorting after missing a payroll.
“I’m not a diver and there’s a lot bigger divers in the league than me.”
– Centre Shaun Van Allen, on March 21, 2003, after learning he was being fined $1,000 (U.S.) for diving in a game the week before against the New York Rangers.
“We’ll decide at game time if he’s injured.”
– Coach Jacques Martin, on April 16, 2003, one day before the fifth and final game in Ottawa’s first-round playoff victory over the New York Islanders, hedging on an injury to defenceman Karel Rachunek – who was, indeed, injured.
“We’re going to kill ‘em.”
– Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, on what his team was going to do to the Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series in 2004, after the Senators won Game 6 in double overtime, 2-1.
“A big inspiration was Eugene Melnyk’s comments.”
- Maple Leaf forward Tie Domi, on April 20, 2004, moments after the Leafs won Game 7, 4-1.
“In order to take the next step, towards winning a Stanley Cup, we must select a new face, a new voice with a fresh approach and with new ideas.
“We need someone to come in and take us over the top of the mountain.”
- General manager John Muckler, on April 22, 2004, explaining why he fired coach Jacques Martin, two days after the Senators lost Game 7.
“There was no yelling at all. He thanked every single hockey player, shook all their hands, knew all of them by name and said thanks for your effort all season long.He never talked (in a loud voice.) Anybody else who says anything other than that is a liar.”
- Team president Roy Mlakar, to The Globe and Mail, after TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that Melnyk “trashed the locker room” and “overturned tables” after the Senators lost Game 7.
“I think it was a combination of several things that slowly, over time, led us to the decision that it might be in everybody’s best interests to work together to try to find a new opportunity, a new home, a new place to play. It was more of a life decision.”
– Agent Stacey McAlpine, on June 23, 2005, explaining why his client, Dany Heatley, asked the Atlanta Thrashers to trade him, a wish that was granted when he was sent to the Senators for Marian Hossa.
“We thought he was the best goalie available. I think he’s gonna do a very good job for us. I know he played very well against us. He was the go-to guy all season long. We’re happy to have him.”
– General manager John Muckler, on July 1, 2006, explaining why he signed goalie Martin Gerber to a three-year, $11.1 million (U.S.) contract, the same day defenceman Zdena Chara left the Senators to sign a five-year, $37.5-million (U.S.) contract with the Boston Bruins.
- Amount goalie Ray Emery won in a bet with captain Daniel Alfredsson after eating a cockroach that appeared in the team’s dressing room during a practice in Raleigh in Oct. 2005.
Let’s see if we win or not.”
- Then coach Bryan Murray, after being asked if Emery would be fined for missing the team’s flight to New Jersey for the start of the second round of the 2007 playoffs.
“You f—-ing old bag of bones.”
– What senior citizen Jean V. Therien says former Senators goalie Ray Emery called him after a road rage incident on Sept. 5, 2007.
“Hey, McGrattan, two plus two.”
- New York Islanders right-winger Arron Asham to Brian McGrattan as McGrattan skated past the Islanders’ bench during a game on Long Island on Nov. 25, 2005. The comment was captured and replayed by Fox Sports, which had miked Asham.
“The biggest thing was just putting our heads down and just trying to let the time go by (until the game was over).
“That doesn’t look very good on us. We have to keep battling and, at the very least, go up and down the walls, and shoot the puck. Just get back to basics and the simple things, and at least work hard, and whatever happens, happens after that.
“At least show a little more pride than what we did.”
– Defenceman Chris Phillips, after a 6-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Dec. 14, 2006, their fourth loss in five games. They would lose six of eight before going on a six-game winning streak.
“Crosby is one of those young people, and rightly so, that the league is promoting as the example of the new NHL and that, and when he turns – I’m sure he’s on camera quite often – using the language he does, I don’t think it’s something you should do, that’s all.”
– Then coach Bryan Murray in March, 2007, suggesting that Sidney Crosby’s mouth needs to be washed out with soap.
“I think it’s bulls–t, excuse me.”
- General manager Bryan Murray, on the eve of the 2007 playoffs, after reading a story in The Citizen that referred to his players as “choking dogs” for their depressing history of crashing out of the playoffs early. This year they would make it all the way to the Cup final.
“I’m definitely not stepping down. I’ll definitely fulfill my contract and I look forward to it.”
– General manager John Muckler, one week before he is fired on June 18, 2007.
“I think it is important thing for an organization to know the person and know the person well.
“He has been an important part of this organization and team and the success we had this past year. He is known and respected by our players.”
- General manager Bryan Murray, explaining why he hired former assistant John Paddock as head coach on July 6, 2007
“It comes certainly because of performance lately. The results we’ve been having — or not having — was an indicator that some adjustment, some emotion had to be brought back to the team.
“Really, since late December, we’ve seen the team not compete at the level we were close to competing at for most of the first part of the year.”
- Murray, explaining why he fired Paddock on Feb. 27, 2008.
“I just thought we have to get back to the work ethic and structure that we had here for a number of years. It appeared to me that one guy thrived on the scrutiny, thrived on the pressure and wanted to be in Ottawa. I had a comfort level and, at the end of the day, I thought that was the way to go.”
- Murray, explaining why he hired Craig Harstburg as head coach on June 13, 2008
“We just weren’t making any progress. We’re struggling to keep up.
“I think when we started this year, we all believed this group would be a good team. We had fairly high expectations. We also believed that we would rebound from a shaky start. We kept hoping there would be some change in our performance, which didn’t seem to be taking place.”
– Murray, explaining what he fired Hartsburg on Feb. 1, 2009
“He knows our players, he knows our prospects and I know he gets max performance out of his players in the American Hockey League. I asked one of his players the other day what he thought of Cory and he said, well, he’s got this winning mentality, which means he’s not very nice some days and I kind of like that answer.”
– Murray, explaining why he hired Cory Clouston on Feb, 2, 2009
“Just simply based on performance over the course of the year, we felt that a change was necessary. Coaches get the finger pointed at them more maybe than they should, but in this case we felt. . . we had a competitive hockey team and for whatever reason we didn’t play to the level that we thought or we expected.”
– Murray, explaining why he fired Clouston on April 9, 2011
“After a poor season, the need for change was obvious.
“I felt Paul fit the profile (of what the team needed in a coach). He’d been a player, been a head coach, been an assistant coach in the National Hockey League. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s been.
“I think he brings energy, experience, expertise and people skills, most importantly.
“When you make a change, you want it to be a positive one.”
- Murray, explaining why he hired Paul MacLean to be the team’s ninth head coach on June 12, 2011.
“When I signed in Ottawa two years ago, I felt it was to be an integral part of the team. Over the last two years and more recently over the past year, I feel my role was diminished. This past season, it diminished a lot more.
“I would like the opportunity to go somewhere where I can play to the best of my capabilities and be the player that I can be.”
– Dany Heatley, on June 21, 2009, explaining why he demanded that the Senators trade him.
“If Dany is in our dressing room when training camp rolls around, it’s because he wants to be here. Anyone who shows up and wants to be here, we’d welcome. But if he doesn’t want to be here, then don’t bother showing up. I’ve said that from Day 1.”
– Chris Neil, on Aug. 6, 2009, talking about Dany Heatley’s request to be traded.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong asking for a trade.
I had my reasons and if people think different of me that’s fine, but I feel I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m happy to move on.
“I definitely feel like this was better for both sides. I talked to a lot of guys today and everybody is happy that there’s a resolution and we can all move on.”
– Heatley, after he was traded to the San Jose Sharks on Sept. 12, 2009
“I talked to Dany (on Friday) and he was adamant that he wanted to be moved. And we felt based on that, more than anything, that we should get the value that we could get for him and move on.
“What we care about are the guys that are in our room and we feel that this makes the core group know where they are going forward.”
- Murray, following the Heatley trade.
“I think the way they have gone about it has got to be the most bizarre way of trying to enter professional sports.”
– Senators owner Eugene Melnyk on the efforts of RIM billionaire Jim Balsillie’s efforts in September, 2009, to transplant the Phoenix Coyotes in Hamilton.