I'll admit it. From early December until the end of February, I was actively rooting for the Senators to lose because I thought the season was another lost cause. The higher draft pick was more important at that point. And how could you have convinced me otherwise? They were dreadful for months, and they couldn't even win back to back games.
But now looking back on Ottawa's season it's unbelievable to think that I had thoughts of finishing near the bottom in a season where they made history. From the end of February until the end of April when they were eliminated, I cheered my heart out and I am so glad that I got to experience that as a fan of this team.
To outside observers, the stretch run that got Ottawa into the playoffs may look like a bad thing considering Ottawa dropped their draft position by about 10 spots and they were eliminated in the first round. It seems like to most people that if you don't win the Stanley Cup, it would have been better off if your team had tanked.
I get where fans of other teams (and even some Senators fans) are coming from. Ottawa needs some higher-end prospects, and a high draft pick would have helped in that area. However, you can't just think about the 2014-15 season in terms of where Ottawa picked in the draft. Because the stretch run will always be important to the team, the fans, and the organization. I would take it over a slightly higher pick any day, and I'll explain why.
Of course the ultimate goal of every year is to win the Stanley Cup. But it's a long process, and on a small budget team like Ottawa it might take a while to reach the top. I'm not saying we can be complacent, but as a team that didn't really have a realistic shot at winning it all, I'd say last year was about as good of a consolation prize as you can get.
The NHL is an entertainment business after all, and you'd be insane to say that the last few months of the 2014-15 season weren't entertaining as an Ottawa fan. Just for a second think about how amazing their climb up the standings was.
They were 14 points out of a playoff spot in mid-February when normally an 8 or 9 point gap that late in the year is a death sentence. They not only had to catch up to Boston, they had to leap-frog 5 other teams as well (including the Toronto Maple Leafs). No other team in the history of the league has come back from such a deficit, which is something that should hold up for quite a while.
Now as a Senators fan I think that is something to be extremely proud about. When Ottawa finally wins the Cup at some point (just one in my lifetime, please?) fans will no doubt remember that season for the rest of their lives.
But the 2014-15 season will also be remembered simply because the downright earth-shattering play in the span of a month and a half. A record of 23-3-3 is something that even Stanley Cup winners would find nearly impossible to do, and Ottawa did it with just enough time left in their season.
For most of the year, it looked like it was a repeat of 2013-14 and that there wasn't going to be anything memorable about it. The last part of the season completely changed everything, and instead we now have something to brag about.
Besides the pride we now feel when talking about their historic run, I'm sure last year did wonders for the players on the team as well. They were on the verge of missing the playoffs for the second straight season, and it isn't good to start a losing culture especially when young players are being integrated into the team.
Instead, hopefully the atmosphere has now changed, as I do think that (almost) everyone on the team got a confidence boost. Winning breeds a winning culture, which in turns creates even more wins. It's a great system, isn't it? I think my main message is to be careful what you wish for, because losing to get better draft picks doesn't always turn out as the Edmonton Oilers can show you.
All the players on the Senators always want to win, and obviously they would rather take what really happened instead of a hypothetical "tank" situation. It should be the same for the fans as well, because there were just so many memorable moments and goals.
I'm already getting nostalgic, and you might be as well. To fill your needs, here are some great moments from the 2014-15 season:
Thanks for reading!