FanPost

How the Sens Community Made Me a Sens Fan

My first experiences with the Ottawa Senators was probably opposite of most people: I saw the Sens live before I even followed them on TV.

Unfortunately, I've also never seen them win live.

The first game I saw was a 5-0 loss to the Maple Leafs in 2011-2012, followed by a 4-0 loss to them in 2012-2013 and then a 5-2 loss when the Canucks were in town in 2013-2014. It felt like some sort of Sens loss bingo: there was the ensemble scoring effort in the 5-0 loss, the guy the Sens almost drafted (Nazem Kadri) scoring a hat trick in the 4-0 loss, and a career milestone for a franchise player (Daniel Sedin's 300th goal) and a 4 goals on 15 shot meltdown by the starting goaltender.

But why was I still drawn to this team?

I started an experiment to find this out after the Vancouver game and bought GameCentre for the rest of the season. At first, I really didn't know what to think, and I had a nagging feeling I had wasted my money. I recognized some of the names from the games we'd gone to, but I was really lost. I didn't know which players were supposed to be good and going through slumps or which players were normally bad that looked good. Was a player bad if he didn't put up any points on the night, or was he just a better supporting player? I was hopelessly lost.

My lack of NHL knowledge was also a factor, as I never really followed it growing up. Analytics eventually helped my scientific mind to help process what I was seeing, but not intitially. Getting up to speed with some of the lore surrounding the Sens (departure of Alfie, Heatley, and Yashin, the run to the playoffs in '07, Alex Daigle...) also helped a bit, but wasn't quite enough.

Nothing was as effective as Twitter.

I dusted off my old and underused account, and started following some Sens people to better make sense of what I was watching. Of course, Bonk's Mullet was one of my first follows. Then the official Sens account, S7S, 6th Sens, SensChirp, etc.

And suddenly, I knew when I saw a play I didn't like, that others had seen the exact same play and also griped about it! Or were collectively enamoured with that slick end-to-end rush by Erik Karlsson! Or watched in awe at that whomping Marc Methot hip check! Or that Jared Cowen D-zone mistake!

~~~

In the GTA, it sometimes feels like Sens fans are few and far between (or maybe just laying low to dodge rampant Leafs fans), but that really doesn't matter on the internet. Suddenly everyone can be where the Sens fans are. Before I knew it, I was watching more and more games. And then, this season, actually going out of my way to watch every single game I could. The games I couldn't watch, I was listening intently on TSN 1200.

After every win and every loss, Twitter was either a love-in or a support network, respectively, and both were extremely satisfying. In a loss, sometimes there was even a silver lining, whether it was a great goal or outstanding goalie performance. And if there wasn't, there would be some sort of GIF put on Twitter to laugh at.

~~~

I came to the realization earlier last month that I absolutely had to see the team this year, now that I was fully Sens-aware. And especially during their historic race to the playoffs.

Not having the time to make the pilgrimage all the way to Ottawa, I thought an ACC visit would be a walk in the park (with the Leafs tank job in full swing). This just happened to be, of course, the April 5th, 8 round shootout 3-2 loss to the Leafs. It only technically "improved" my Sens-watching record to 0-3-1, but it was just lots of fun anyway.

The first period was a dud, but the second and third were exhilarating. In every odd-man rush by the Sens, in every shot attempt, and in every save by Hammond, I nearly fell right out of my seat. Mark Stone's goal in the 3rd tied it up, and I was floored. The best bang for buck I'd spent on entertainment in a long time.

And the most surprising thing after being awash in a sea of blue watching the games that I saw in Ottawa, I was not overly heckled by Leafs fans. In fact, I was actually semi-surrounded by Sens fans (many of whom had made the reverse (?) pilgrimage from Ottawa just to see this late season push). Oddly enough, I never felt like more of a fan as I did that night in the ACC (my sore vocal cords after the game can attest to that).

So however this season ends up, I was just glad to be a part of this team's historic ride.

And if this playoff series does indeed end early for these Sens, I'll be back next year (and the year after that), and it's all because of the great community that surrounds the team.

Go Sens Go!

This FanPost was written by a member of the Silver Seven community, and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of the site managers, editors, or Sports Blogs Nation, Inc.