Kaspars Daugavins' curiously illustrious time with the Senators organization came to an official end this morning, as he was claimed off the waiver wire by the playoff-bound Boston Bruins. Good for him. Adding Daugavins to a roster that already includes Chris Kelly and Zdeno Chara, former Senators' assistant General Manager Peter Chiarelli continues to foster a small colony of former Senators right in the Northeast Division. How flattering.
Though many will react to this news by envisioning themselves as flies on the wall to Daugavins' first awkward interaction with Tukka Rask and David Krejci, I'd like to take the opportunity to look back on his tenure with the Senators, a disappointingly short, but still remarkable and noteworthy stint. Besides, we don't need to worry about how Daugavins will fit into the Bruins' dressing room a few short weeks after he attempted the gaudiest, showiest and most awesome shootout attempt against his new teammates. He's going to fit in great. They'll love the guy. Because who doesn't?
A perfunctory visit to HockeyDB won't tell you much about Kaspars Daugavins' time as a Senator. YouTube will tell you a little bit more. In just over a season's length of NHL hockey spread over the course of four years (he played with the team for one game under the tutelage of Cory Clouston and didn't see any action with the big club in 2010-2011), the Daugman has six goals and eight assists, good for 14 points through 85 games. Yet, arguably no player has made a bigger impression on a team and a fanbase in ways that didn't include his fists, while producing at a 0.16 points-per-game clip. This is not to over-state the impact Daugavins had on the ice. Though a tenacious penalty killer who offered once-in-a-blue-moon glimpses of offensive ability, Daugavins ultimately saw limited TOI in all his time with the Senators and, likely deservedly, never saw any consistent time above the third and fourth lines.
Still, somehow in that limited time, Daugavins has come to mean something for Senators fans. Years from now, when the Senators will likely be a much different group than they are today, fans will think of Kaspars Daugavins and recall him as a player who was fun to watch, who was part of a team that never stopped skating, never gave up on a game and, perhaps most importantly, genuinely seemed to enjoy themselves night in and night out. Any Sens fans will have a tough time holding back a smile when they think of the brief time we enjoyed watching the Daugman lace them up for the Senators. His goals, though few and far between, elicited wide smiles from his bench, especially as he lowered his head, extended his glove and barked his way down the line. Despite his popularity with fans and teammates, as well as his utility on the penalty kill and in a checking role, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Daugavins, even if we weren't willing to acknowledge it. Having only played sparingly in the team's last month, Daugavins future with the team was a question mark. Now, he's been claimed and will move on to a new NHL job, giving us an opportunity to look back and enjoy.
Besides the barking, there are few players with six career goals where almost all of them are moments worth reliving (Matt Kassian, this is a challenge). There was Daugavins' first, a wrister fired in from the boards after entering the zone that should have never had a chance, and against Toronto no less.
There was his last as a Senator, a laser of a shot that came mighty close to tipping off Mika Zibanejad's blade before flying over the outstretched glove of Khudobin and into the top corner against his new squad.
There was one against Edmonton, moments after the Sens' first goal of the game, in which Daugavins fooled Khabibulin into thinking he was going for the pass before shooting it top-shelf on the glove side-- just look at how soon he readies his bark before getting high fives.
There was the complete flub in the shootout against the Rangers, deep into the pool of shooters. Missing on his flip back to the forehand, Daugavins watched the puck slide between the five-hole of one of the best goalies in hockey.
There was this ridiculous sequence against the Maple Leafs: enter the zone, fall, throw puck back to the point from lying-down position, get back up, receive slap-pass, whiff, kick it towards the net, be lucky Spezza's stick was sitting in front of the goal line. The best part of this play is how every one of the Senators' forwards find themselves lying on their backs at one point or another during or after the good goal.
Then, of course, there was everything that Daugavins did that didn't result in a goal. His celebration during the AHL playoffs when he drop-kicked his stick, which I unfortunately couldn't find video of. Entering the room after securing a berth in the AHL Calder Cup Finals, being a total ham and having a blast. His chicken dance, which though in the KHL, was definitely worth pointing out. You know what else is awesome? In the comments, we're going to talk about the Daugavins moments I didn't include here. I have a laundry list and still not a full catalogue.
That, more than anything, is how Sens fans will remember Daugavins time with the team. He is a hard-worker who earned a spot on an NHL roster after being a third round pick four years earlier. He skates hard, effectively checks opposing forwards and was tremendous on the penalty kill for Paul MacLean. Yet, above and beyond, Daugavins is always having fun. He takes his job seriously and gives it his all, but still finds a way to make hockey fun. Which it should be. You can see it in his demeanor, you can see it in how his teammates broke into broad grins when things were going his way. He is a player who wants to do well and whose teammates want him to do well. Kaspars Daugavins looks like a guy whose job is to play his favourite game in the world every other night. And that's a refreshing sight.
We'll miss you, Daugman. I hope you make it stick in Boston or anywhere else because the league needs more guys like you.