The Ottawa Senators are entering a new era in the franchise’s history; coincidentally, fans are being allowed back into the Canadian Tire Centre to cheer on the local heroes for the first time in over eighteen months. That means that many are going to be attending a Sens game for the first time, or maybe re-discovering the team after a long hiatus. Diehard fans might be planning on bringing their friends or partners who don’t know much about hockey to a game or two this season. And as all diehard fans know, hockey is that much more fun to watch when you know a little bit more about the players than just their point totals.
So for all the new fans, and some who might have fallen out of touch with the team, we’ve created this introductory guide to the 2021-22 Ottawa Senators. What follows is not an explanation of the rules of the sport, or a season preview full of hockey jargon. This is a guide to the personalities, the inside jokes, and the fun part of the game that you might not find elsewhere.
If you’re already a diehard fan, maybe send this to someone in your life who you think might want to learn more about the Sens. If someone sent this to you, this could be your key to understanding the inside jokes, or maybe even falling in love with the team a bit more yourself.
#7 - Brady Tkachuk (Left Wing)
About: Also known as “Energy Boy,” 22-year-old Brady Tkachuk is the heart and soul of the Ottawa Senators and the frontrunner for the currently vacant captaincy. A special kind of player who can lead his team both in points and in hits, Brady will fight anyone who looks at him or his teammates the wrong way. He is the younger brother of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, and the favourite son of retired NHL player Keith Tkachuk. He is also easily the most memeable Senator, thanks to his frequent sponsorship deals and overall personality. Brady used to live with his mentor, Mark Stone, until the latter was traded halfway through Brady’s first season. Since then, he has taken over Mark Stone’s house and invited his teammates to live with him. We assume Stone consented to this arrangement.
You can usually find him: In front of the opposing net, probably starting a fight or just generally stirring things up.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “I would die for Brady Tkachuk.”
#9 - Josh Norris (Centre)
About: Josh Norris is Brady Tkachuk’s childhood friend. This is only his second season in the NHL, but he’s already the team’s first line centreman. He’s a very well-rounded player who’s good at pretty much everything, although he sometimes gets overshadowed by his linemates. Last year, he lived with teammates Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stützle in Mark Stone’s house, where he allegedly did all the cooking. He speaks some German, but Tim Stützle wouldn’t call him fluent.
You can usually find him: Next to Brady Tkachuk.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Josh Norris is so underrated.”
#10 - Alex Formenton (Left Wing)
About: Alex Formenton is the fastest man alive. He has harnessed the Speed Force and used it to become very good at killing penalties.
You can usually find him: You can’t. In the time it took you to turn your head in his direction, he has skated the entire length of the ice.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Another Formenton breakaway? How many has he had in this game?”
#12 - Shane Pinto (Centre)
About: Shane Pinto is the Ottawa Senator with the least NHL experience, but you would not know that from watching him play hockey. He is very good. Opposing players frequently get lost in his dreamy eyes. Remember that you love Shane Pinto, you will protect him with your life, and you want him to thrive.
You can usually find him: On Twitter.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Why is everyone ignoring Shane Pinto in their rookie of the year projections?”
#16 - Austin Watson (Left Wing)
About: Austin Watson is a physical player who is well-liked by his teammates. He doesn’t do much offensively, but he’s good on the penalty kill and he blocks a lot of shots. He once blocked a shot with his neck and didn’t miss a shift.
You can usually find him: On the fourth line.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Did Watson just take a puck to the face and stay on the ice? What the hell?”
#18 - Tim Stützle (Left Wing)
About: Tim Stützle is a 19-year-old German superstar who was drafted by the Senators in 2020 and adopted by Brady Tkachuk and Josh Norris in 2021. When he arrived in Ottawa, he single-handedly melted the cold, dead hearts of Sens fans with his enthusiasm and his absolutely unreal hockey skills. He is Brady Tkachuk’s #1 fan and has been known to hug Thomas Chabot during practices.
You can usually find him: Tenderly hugging a teammate after scoring a highlight-reel goal.
#19 - Drake Batherson (Right Wing)
About: Drake Batherson is a nice Maritime boy and one of the most skilled players on the team. He scores a lot of goals, and makes a lot of beautiful passes. At just 23, he’s somehow the oldest of the “young” guys. Like Josh Norris, he also speaks a little bit of German, but not enough to impress Tim Stützle.
You can usually find him: On the first line.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “It’s Bath time!” (Alternatively, it can also be Batherszn if that’s too weird for you. But it shouldn’t be too weird because you’re diehard now.)
#21 - Nick Paul (Left Wing or Centre)
About: Nick Paul is a freak. He is unstoppable. Goaltenders tremble before him. He is fast, and big, and talented, and an absolute joy to watch. There’s nothing he can’t do. Acquired in 2014 as part of the Jason Spezza trade, he’s taken a long time to find his footing in the NHL, but now he’s here to stay. And yes, we are aware that he looks like Mr. Bean.
You can usually find him: In front of the opposing net, or maybe making plays in the middle of the ice, or maybe in his own zone, killing a penalty. Nick Paul does it all.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “I did not expect to love Nick Paul as much as I do.”
#28 - Connor Brown (Right Wing)
About: Connor Brown was the unlikely hero of the 2020-21 Ottawa Senators season. He’s not the flashiest player, but he works hard, he’s good defensively, and, for reasons no one can quite understand, he scores a lot of goals. He used to be a Toronto Maple Leaf, but he’s much happier here. He’s also a Canadian hero, because why not.
You can usually find him: On a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Nick Paul.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Connor Brown has HOW many goals?”
#63 - Tyler Ennis (Right Wing)
About: Tyler Ennis is just a little guy. He’s a very experienced NHL player, and he actually played for the Sens a few years ago before leaving and coming back again this year. He’s fun to watch.
You can usually find him: On the fourth line.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Wait, didn’t we trade that guy to Edmonton? Wait, he’s kind of nice with it?”
#71 - Chris Tierney (Centre)
About: Chris Tierney is a versatile and defensively responsible forward who has been with this team since 2018. In other words, he’s seen some shit. When the Sens were in their flop era, Tierney centered the second line; now that there are better options at forward, he’s been demoted. He’s off to a great start this season, though, with four goals, exactly one of which was scored with his hockey stick.
You can usually find him: On the second powerplay unit, because this team is still a bit lacking in depth.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Why is Tierney playing on the powerplay? Why not replace him with... okay, I guess I kind of understand.”
Bonus: Collection of forwards who are just Some Guy
I have nothing interesting to say about any of these random dudes, and you do not need to know who they are. They will spend most of their time sitting on the bench, if they’re even in the lineup. If they touch the puck, something has gone horribly wrong.
#2 - Artem Zub
About: Artem Zub is indescribable. Watching him play one game of hockey will clear your skin and cure your mental illness. We know almost nothing about him, and that’s what makes him so interesting. Before signing a contract with the Senators in 2020, he spent five seasons playing professionally in his home country of Russia. He even won a gold medal in the 2018 Olympic games. When he first joined this team, he did not speak a word of English, but that’s changing quickly. He is primarily a defensive defenseman, but when he decides to turn on the offense, it is the most beautiful thing you will ever witness. Never say anything bad about Zub. Zub is perfect. Zub is life. Live, Laugh, Zub.
You can usually find him: In your heart.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Zuuuuuuub.”
#3 - Josh Brown
About: On every NHL team, there has to be at least one guy who is not particularly good but who is always in the lineup because the coach loves him. In Ottawa, that guy is Josh Brown. Brown is far from the only bad defenseman on this team, but his continued presence in the lineup means that Erik Brännström has to stay in the minor leagues. You don’t need to know anything about Brännström, except that he is not in the lineup, and you want him to be in the lineup.
You can usually find him: On the ice, for some reason.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “There’s no way Brännström is worse than this guy.”
#5 - Nick Holden
About: Nick Holden is the oldest member of the Ottawa Senators. He is the only defenseman outside of the top pairing of Zub and Chabot who can kind of play defense on a good day, so we’re okay with having him around, at least for now.
You can usually find him: On left defense.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Who just made that good defensive play?”
#15 - Michael Del Zotto
About: “Uncle Deli” is the most experienced player on the Senators’ roster. When he joined the Sens this offseason, he immediately assumed the role of team dad. He’s a good cook, and pretty much everyone on the team looks up to him. Unfortunately, however, he is a little bit washed up, and by staying in the lineup he is taking the spot of younger players who are better at hockey than he is. By younger players, I really just mean Brännström.
You can usually find him: At home, teaching a bunch of 22-year-olds to cook.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “I don’t care if Del Zotto is bad. I love him.”
#22 - Nikita Zaitsev
About: Nikita Zaitsev is Artem Zub’s unofficial translator, as the only other Russian speaker on the team. The most generous interpretation of Zaitsev’s hockey skills is that he’s an okay player who looks bad because he’s being asked to do way too much on the ice. A less generous interpretation is that the Leafs gave him to the Sens in 2019 as part of a plot to destroy the team from the inside. Feel free to blame him for every bad thing that happens.
You can usually find him: Hanging his head in shame after being on the ice for another goal against.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “That goal was all Zaitsev’s fault.”
#72 - Thomas Chabot
About: Thomas Chabot is the Sens’ best defenseman, and the other potential captain along with Brady Tkachuk. He is best friends with Colin White (who is currently on injured reserve), and has a budding bromance with Tim Stützle, who he hugs at every opportunity. Chabot is a type of player known as a “puck moving defenseman,” which basically means that he is good at scoring goals. The only other thing you need to know about puck moving defensemen is that for some reason the Sens refuse to have more than one of them in the lineup at the same time. This means that Chabot pretty much has to stay on the ice at all times if the Sens want to score goals. Remember that if he ever makes a mistake, it’s because he’s tired.
You can usually find him: On the ice. He never leaves.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “The Sens really need to find a way to reduce Chabot’s icetime.”
#98 - Victor Mete
About: Before becoming an NHL player, Victor Mete regularly tweeted mean things about the Leafs. He later began his career as a Montreal Canadien, but in 2021, the Canadiens put him on waivers and the Sens claimed him. Waivers are basically the hockey version of putting old furniture out in front of your house for anyone to pick up for free, so it was very funny when Mete turned out to be good at hockey. Unfortunately, however, Mete has struggled to stand out in a very bad defensive lineup this year.
You can usually find him: In the press box, watching the game.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “I still think we could fix Mete.”
#30 - Matt Murray
About: Matt Murray is the single most polarizing player on the Ottawa Senators. As a Sens fan, it is your duty to form a very strong opinion about him, and stick with it. He won the Cup with Pittsburgh before coming to Ottawa, but we don’t like to talk about that. When he’s good, he’s very good. When he’s bad, he’s very bad. He makes a lot of money, and that’s a big part of why so many fans seem to hate him. He also gets injured a lot.
You can usually find him: In the Sens’ net, stopping pucks and getting no recognition for it despite the degree of difficulty.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Yeah, Murray posted a shutout, but I just don’t think he’s the guy we need in net right now.”
#31 - Anton Forsberg
About: Anton Forsberg is the Sens’ backup goaltender. He’s mostly here to give Matt Murray a rest from time to time, and to hold down the backup goaltender position until the Sens’ younger, more exciting goaltending prospects are ready to play in the NHL. He has a furry on his mask.
You can usually find him: On the bench.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Gustavsson would have saved that one.”
#32 - Filip Gustavsson
About: Filip Gustavsson is one of the younger, more exciting goaltending prospects mentioned above. He impressed everyone in his few games with the Senators last year, and we’re hoping he’ll eventually take over as the starting goaltender. He was supposed to stay in the minor leagues this year, but he’s in Ottawa for a bit because Murray is injured.
You can usually find him: In Belleville, starting in net for the Belleville Senators.
What you can expect to hear from the diehards: “Put Gus in net!”