Senators take it outside

This was a postcard for Canada’s capital.

Senators take it outside
Kyle Turris skates over some rough ice as the Ottawa Senators practice on an outdoor rink at Jules Morin Park on York St. (Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Ottawa Citizen)

This was a postcard for Canada’s capital.

The Ottawa Senators took to the ODR — teenspeak for the outdoor rink — practicing at Jules Morin Park in the shadow of Parliament Hill, with the sun beaming overhead, late Thursday morning. Students from nearby elementary schools played hooky to watch some hockey, lining the rink for the low-key workout, perfectly sandwiched between Canada’s Olympic women’s gold medal curling and hockey games.

“Everyone’s in a good mood, that’s huge,” said Ottawa-born defenceman Marc Methot. “It was just kind of cool to be out here. It was more of an event than anything. We had a blast doing it.”

For Methot, who attended De La Salle High School, a long slapshot down the road, it was a trip down memory lane.

“Just driving by, it kind of gave me chills, so being able to skate out here and now being with the Ottawa Senators, it’s kind of coming full circle. It’s neat.”

The Jules Morin ice surface is the first outdoor rink constructed as part of the Sens RINC project, built with help from a variety of Senators-sponsored charity events.

Senators coach Paul MacLean helped put the original boards up during his down time during the NHL lockout of 2012-13. He welcomed the chance to return and practice at the facility.

“To see the finished project is impressive,” said MacLean. “It’s an important part of our responsibility as the Ottawa Senators to make sure we give back to the community as much as we possibly can, in as many ways as we can.”

The Senators outdoor experience didn’t end there, either.

Defenceman Cody Ceci, who grew up in Orléans, spent part of Wednesday afternoon on the Rideau Canal, strapping Google Canada gear to his head to collect video of his skate. Ceci’s skate will be used to showcase a 360-degree experience of skating on the Canal. It was a skate down memory lane.

“I skated on the Canal a lot when I was a kid,” said Ceci. “I remember pushing my sister around one year on a wagon. She had broken her ankle.”

Ceci says it’s always special skating outside, considering he spent a big part of his childhood playing shinny in his own backyard and in other rinks around Orléans.

“It certainly brings back memories,” he said. “It’s nice to have people here cheering us on.”

When he was younger, Ceci says he would have liked nothing better than leaving the classroom to watch pro hockey players in action.

“I wish I had that option in my day, when I was in elementary school, but I never had the chance,” he said.

If there was one slight negative to the experience it was that the temperature was — dare we say it? — a tad too warm — leaving the ice much softer than what players usually skate on.

No one was complaining too much about the sunshine, however.

“I haven’t played on outdoor ice since I was a little kid and it’s one of those things were you forgot how much fun it is to be outside and in the sun,” said goaltender Craig Anderson. “It’s kind of a nuisance with the sun in your eyes, trying to stop pucks, but at the same time, I think everybody out here was smiling the whole time. It was definitely worth coming out.”

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