Your votes and feedback will be taken into consideration when I ultimately choose a winner this weekend. Names have been left off the post. With all that said, here is today's finalist...
Disaster. If we had to choose one word to describe the 2010-2011 NHL season for the Ottawa Senators, that might be the best choice out there. I’m not here to flog last season to death... quite frankly that’s been done a thousand times over, but instead I’m here to talk about the good that can come from something as brutal as last season was.
The 2010-2011 NHL Trade Deadline came and went, and with it brought a renewed sense of optimism that fell over the city like a warm blanket. Was it the fact that we shipped out half the team, giving us a fresh new look? Was it the fact that some players like Alex Kovalev we’re shipped out for a 7th round pick (perhaps finally putting him in his place)? Could it have been the youthful enthusiasm that replaced the veteran complacency? Probably all of the above, but the one thing that sticks out in my mind was the change in expectations.
Something that has bothered me for YEARS has been the expectations around the Ottawa Senators. Every free agent signing, or new draft pick we put into our lineup, and the parade planning is on. Maybe for me it’s a bit of an inferiority complex, or maybe even some sort of post traumatic stress disorder, but ever since the years we would continually lose in the playoffs to the Leafs, or be called out as playoff chokers, this team has ALWAYS had a hard time living up to the expectations that are place on them. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that’s not the whole story here but it does illustrate what happens to a team that’s called the favourite and fails to achieve the expected results year after year after year.
Fast forward to today, there are only 4 players that remain from the team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Neil, and Chris Phillips and after a decade of Stanley Cup expectations, the reset button has finally been hit. The city took a collective sigh of relief and a deep breath. No longer do we all feel like we’re being disappointed by our team. The new set of expectations is that we are not a playoff team. The consensus seems to be that we will finish anywhere in the bottom 10-15 this year, and we can all start to appreciate them for what they are, and stop holding them up to expectations that are beyond them.
The Ottawa Senators are now a rebuilding team, full of potential, but also full of volatility. We have a plethora of young talent and several question marks, that if they pan out, we could have a much better team than we expect. We also have a legitimate goaltender for the first time in the franchise’s history (some would say 2 legitimate # 1’s). We must remember to base our expectations in reality and that not all of the prospects will pan out, and not all of the question marks will be answered positively. We must remember to enjoy the hard working, young, and improving team that we have. We also have one thing that we haven’t had in a LONG time... a fan base full of optimism.