Mar 8, 2012; Ottawa, ON, CAN; Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza (19) celebrates with left wing Milan Michalek (9) after a goal in the third period against the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place. The Senators defeated the Rangers 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-US PRESSWIRE
The series resumes with a look at Ottawa's #9s. One of several numbers in this series in which there can be legitimate debate, the Sens best #9 will be between Martin Havlat and Milan Michalek. But first, the other contenders:
Doug Smail LW 1992-1993
A native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Smail played 3 seasons at the University of North Dakota, and his breakout final year result in a jump to the Winnipeg Jets the following season. Smail set an NHL record for fastest goal after the opening faceoff when he scored 5 seconds into a game in 1981. A two-way player, he had 28 career shorthanded goals. His stop in Ottawa was the last of his NHL career. After a year split between the Senators and the San Diego Gulls of the IHL, Smail moved to Scotland to join the Fife Flyers. He scored 74 goals and added 65 assists for 139 points in just 53 games and was named the British Ice Hockey Writers Association Player of the Year in 1994 (how many ice hockey writers would have their have in Britain in 1994? More than 4?)
Andy Schneider LW 1993-1994
Schneider was signed out of junior as a free agent by the Senators on October 9, 1992 after a standout playoff performance - in which he won WHL Playoff MVP honours - for the Swift Current Broncos. Schneider's NHL career lasted only 10 games in which he put up 0 points. He played for over a decade in the German league (DEL) and finished his career in 2010-11 after 4 seasons in the Austrian league with Klagenfurter AC.
Derek Mayer D 1993-1994
Like Schneider, Mayer's brief appearance (17 games) with the Ottawa Senators in 1993-94, was the only time he spent in the NHL during his career. Mayer represented Canada at the 1994 Olympics, before continuing his pro career in the DEL.
Dan Quinn C 1995-1996
Quinn's second appearance in the series is for his second time through with the Ottawa Senators. After being signed as a free agent late in the season in 1994, Quinn wasn't retained by the Senators and signed as a free agent with the LA Kings. When the Kings failed to re-sign Quinn following the 1994-1995 season, Ottawa once again signed the offensive centreman in the summer for 1995.
Alexandre Daigle RW 1997-1998
The controversial player's first appearance in the series, Daigle switched to #9 from his customary #91 during his final season with the Sens when new GM Pierre Gauthier took issue with "vanity numbers" (this was also the reason for Radek Bonk's number change).
Bill Berg LW 1998-1999
Drafted 59th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, Berg played for the Islanders, the Maple Leafs, and New York Rangers before joining the Senators for his last season in the NHL, the 1998-1999 campaign. Berg currently works as an analyst for the NHL Network and has previously worked for Rogers Sportsnet.
Kevin Dineen RW 1999-2000
The current head coach of the Florida Panthers started his NHL journey when he was drafted by the Hartford Whalers 56th overall in 1982. Dineen spent two seasons at the University of Denver before joining the Canadian National Team for the 1983-1984 season, participating in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. After 8 seasons with the Whalers, he joined the Flyers for 5 years. After another spell in Hartford/Carolina, Dineen joined the Senators as a free agent, September 1, 1999, adopting #9 because his customary #11 was already in use.
Martin Havlat RW 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004, 2005-2006
Drafted 26th overall by the Senators in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Havlat joined the Sens in 2000-2001 for his rookie season and was a finalist for the Calder. During Havlat's 5 seasons in Ottawa, he had two 20+-goal seasons, one 30+-goal season, several high-sticking and kicking incidents, some verbal disputes with then Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock, and the first of several serious injuries. Havlat's most successful playoff performance with the Sens was during the 2006 playoffs, when he had 7 goals and 13 points in 10 games as Ottawa was eliminated in the second round. Havlat and teammate Bryan Smolinski were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 2006 while the Senators acquired Tom Preissing, Josh Hennessy, Michal Barinka, and a 2nd-round draft pick, in a 3-way deal involving the San Jose Sharks. Good times.
Brendan Bell D 2008-2009
Bell was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 65th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Bell signed with the Sens as a free agent in 2008 and played a career-high 53 games for the Sens. Like so many others on this lists, Ottawa was Bell's last stop in the NHL and he has since spent time in the AHL and KHL. Bell is currently teammates with another former Sens defenseman, Wade Redden, as they ply their trade for the Connecticut Whale in the AHL.
Milan Michalek LW 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012
Drafted 6th overall by the San Jose Sharks in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Michalek was the marquee piece for Ottawa in the Dany Heatley deal. While 2009-10 and 2010-11 saw Michalek produce career-worst totals in points, his goal totals were similar to his time with the Sharks. However, 2011-2012 was a breakout season for Michalek, as the winger scored 30+ goals for the first time in his career.
Best #9: Martin Havlat
It's close, but it's still Havlat. With a few more seasons like 2011-12, Michalek jumps out in front, but as it stands, Havlat was a much more consistent performer over the course of his 5 years in Ottawa than Michalek has been in his 3 seasons. The different roles both men have played with the Senators must be considered as well. While Michalek has played on less talented Sens teams, he has played top minutes for those teams and until his 35-goal outburst last season, has not provided top line production.
Worst #9: Andy Schneider
There were a couple options for this dubious honour, but ultimately it falls to Schneider. Why? A player who makes no mark in the NHL other than penalty minutes just can't cut it.
Who's Ottawa's Best #9?
Martin Havlat (236 votes)
Milan Michalek (91 votes)
Other, expand in comment section (2 votes)
329 total votes