Black Aces Top Ten Favourite Senators of All-Time
Some of them were not very skilled. Some of them were not very popular with the fans. But these 10 players stand the test of time for this lowly scribe after 16 plus seasons of Ottawa Senators hockey.
10. TIE! Brian McGrattan and Lance Pitlick: I know. I'm cheating already but I went back and forth and decided I couldn't keep either off this list. Beside having one of the most entertaining names in Senators history (along with Ron Tugnutt and Radek Bonk), Pitlick was a late draft pick of the Minnesota North Stars who quietly slipped into town and started putting opponents through the boards. He also picked up my old roommate Andy hitchhiking so that's cool. He left for Florida when they offered him big money but Pitlick was around when Ottawa first made the playoffs and was a great character of the 90's Senators.
McGrattan makes this list because with one single punch, he burst the illusion of dominance that the Toronto Maple Leafs had over the Senators. In the 2006 season he landed a doozy on Tie Domi and sent him to the ice. Senators fans everywhere stood taller for a long time after that tilt. He was also one of the toughest fighters in the NHL every season he played for Ottawa.
9. Ron Tugnutt: He helped lead the Senators to their first ever playoffs in 97 and was one of the best goalies in the league in 99. It was a sad day when he got dealt to Pittsburgh for the very grumpy and past-his-prime Tom Barrasso.
8. Mike Peluso: He was an original Senator and was a fun guy to watch play hockey in an otherwise infamous season by the fumbling team. He dated Alanis, had perfect hockey hair and was a charismatic, funny dude. He was also the first in a long line of fan favourites who were haphazardly traded away in the early years (along with Andre Roy, Marian Hossa and Tugnutt).
7. Anton Volchenkov: There is nothing better than seeing the A-Train just steamroll someone at the blueline. Nothing better. Bryan Murray better get this guy signed right now!
6. Randy Cunneyworth: The first Sens captain where you could say, "Yah, he's our captain!" and be proud of that fact. Other than Alfie, probably the most respected Senator in the history of the franchise.
5. Chris Neil: All this guy has done is bleed Senator red, black and gold his entire career. Neil is the heart of the Senators franchise, bloodstains and all.
4. Steve Duchesne: He only played 2 seasons in the nation's capital but it was the winning attitude he brought that helped turn the Senators from laughingstocks to playoff contenders. He started off the pivotal 97 season by grabbing a Montreal player who had just run over Alfredsson in the neutral zone, and pummelled him with punches even though Duchesne was not exactly a tough guy. It was that leadership and attitude that got the Senators over the hump. He also scored THE GOAL that put them into the playoffs for the first time. That alone justifies his position on this list.
3. Ray Emery: Yes, Rayzor had a bit of a meltdown his last, tumultuous season here but before that, he led the team to the Stanley Cup Final, and no other Senator goaltender can say that. Plus, he was a breath of fresh air in an uptight city. Not many players were more entertaining both on and off the ice. Who will ever forget Rayzor fighting both Martin Biron and then Andrew Peters in the same brawl in Buffalo? Incredible.
2. Zdeno Chara: No other player in team history could dominate the way Big Z could. The fact that he came over in a trade for the hated Alexei Yashin made it all the better. Letting Chara go for nothing is easily the biggest mistake the organization ever (and probably will) make.
1. Daniel Alfredsson: Who else?
Players who came up just short for the list:
Shaun Van Allen, Marian Hossa, Brad Marsh, Wade Redden, Magnus Arvedsson, Chris Phillips and Andre Roy.
Ottawa 4 Carolina 2
Huge game from Alexei Kovalev and his line in a game that was a little too close for comfort. The Senators were stymied by Manny Legace for much of the match but Kovalev's line kept pushing late and were rewarded with a lot of ice time and trust from Coach Clouston.
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Alexei Kovalev
2. Nick Foligno
3. Mike Fisher
Honourable mentions: Jason Spezza, Jesse Winchester and Brian Elliott.
Final Thoughts: It's funny that the goaltending family cries foul when the NHL tries to reduce the size of their equipment, claiming that their safety is being jeopardized. Yet around half the goalies don't wear any kind of neck protection anymore. Something stinks in Denmark here....
Another sign the equipment may be too big? Brian Elliott made a glove save tonight and, according to HNIC play-by-play man Dean Brown, he didn't even know he had caught it.
Have a nice weekend.