Bobby Ryan committing to the Senators for an additional seven years isn't going to ensure the Senators win the Stanley Cup or even make the playoffs. Ryan is a piece in the puzzle, a part of the core. There's still work to do with this team if the long term goal of contender and champion are to be achieved. Questions remain about whether the organization can augment a young group consisting of Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, and Ryan with complementary pieces and remove some of the dead wood floating around Kanata.
But those questions are for another day.
July 5, 2013 is one of the more significant days in Senators history. Ryan's arrival in the nation's capital was understandably overshadowed by the departure of Daniel Alfredsson, but October 2, 2014 might also be a date we remember years later. Naming Karlsson captain cements a new era in Ottawa - this is the real passing of the torch from Alfie. But Ryan hasn't been quite so overshadowed today. For many Sens fans, Ryan signing is the first true sign the organization is moving in the right direction in the past 15 months.
15 months of negativity. 15 months of acrimony. 15 months of doubt.
The 2013-14 campaign was one of held breaths and nervous twitches. Questions remained about the futures of key players like Ryan and Jason Spezza and those questions grew more prominent as the team struggled and eventually missed the playoffs. Spezza's July trade kicked off another round of blame and self-doubt among Sens fans. Pundits talked about the Ottawa problem, about players not wanting to commit to the Senators organization. They talked about the confused messaging the team was sending players around the league.
But Bobby Ryan said yes.
It doesn't matter that others have said yes before. It doesn't matter that the Sens had already re-signed two key 2015 UFAs in Clarke MacArthur and Craig Anderson. Both those players are important, but Ryan is a name, a four-time 30 goal scorer in the league, an American, and would have had suitors had he tested the free agent market.
Bobby Ryan was a litmus test. For the organization, for the players, for the fans.
While questions remain about the organization's finances, the Sens needed to re-sign Ryan as a signal around the league that the team can compete financially. Ottawa needed to re-sign Ryan as much for the players in the room as for the players around the league. Anderson, MacArthur, and now Ryan, have bought in.
This move will work the most magic with fans. It's hard to pin down the most pessimistic moment since Alfredsson left. But while many Sens fans could muster some optimism and enthusiasm ahead of last season's ill-fated western road trip to start the year, many haven't managed the same enthusiasm this year. Pundits expected the Senators to make the playoffs last season, some suggested the team would be a contender. Neither of those things came to pass. The media has been far less charitable to the Senators this training camp and fan expectation has suffered. In some corners apathy - the requiem for failed teams - had set in.
Bobby Ryan re-signing changes that. There's a buzz around the team today for the first time in a long time. There's excitement and engagement from the fan base.