When the Senators traded him to the Knights last month, Evgeni “Daddy” Dadonov joined a unique group of former Senators who only played part of one season in the nation’s capital. Through the years, starting (especially) with their expansion season, the Sens have had some big names skip town after fewer than 82 games in Ottawa. Some we recall more fondly than others and today we remember some (unique) guys and ask, who were our favourite one-season wonders?
In a lot of ways, Dadonov kind of encapsulates the broad spectrum of emotions associated with some of the players on this special list. He came to town with all sorts of promise, he provided some fond memories, and yet he left us still wanting more by the time we parted ways. To summarize this group conceptually, all of these players feel quintessentially “sens.” For better or worse, we feel grateful for the memories and we won’t ever pass on the opportunity for some nostalgia.
When it comes to goalies, only two names really stick out. Domink Hasek and his ill-fated adductor muscle played well in his one regular season in Ottawa but his post-season absence meant he couldn’t undo the years of torment he inflicted as a division rival. Peter Sidorkiewicz on the other hand represented Ottawa in the 1993 all-star game and while his 85.6 save percentage as a Senator doesn’t look like much, even Patrick Roy couldn’t have helped that team in ‘93. Speaking of whom, a couple of members of that inaugural team went on to have decent legacies in Ottawa despite their brief stints in town. Laurie Boschman captained the expansion squad before hanging up the skates and playing defence for that squad sufficed for Brad Marsh to call it a career after 1993.
Probably uncoincidentally, a lot of Sens who only played one season in Ottawa have a cult status not unlike Dadonov. Maybe most famously, Brandon Bochenski who went from depth prospect to training camp standout to traded after 20 games in the NHL, all in the blink of an eye. As readers may already know, Jonathan Cheechoo holds a place in this writer’s heart as my all-time favourite cult Senator (I think I liked the Dany Heatley trade to the Sharks more than anyone because I had already become such a fan of Cheechoo and Milan Michalek from afar).
Some cult icons like former lottery pick Nikita Filatov (whom Ottawa acquired for a measly third rounder) and Andy Sutton will live on in our collective memories for the memorable quotes they provided. Other cult legends include hall-of-fame calibre players like Marian Gaborik who ended their illustrious careers in Ottawa. Role players like David Legwand contributed to Ottawa’s once-in-a-lifetime regular-season run in 2015, and guys like Rob Klinkhammer just have cool names.
Ottawa has also dabbled in the deadline rental market more than once over the years to mixed results. Big names like Peter Bondra yielded putrid results (no points in the playoffs) while under-the-radar players like Matt Cullen produced more than a point-per-game in the post-season. Even without making the playoffs, Ales Hemsky etched his name in Sens folklore with his brilliant play down the regular-season stretch with perhaps one highlight standing out above the others. Like Legwand in 2015, Viktor Stalberg couldn’t have come to Ottawa at a better time, playing solid depth minutes during Ottawa’s unforgettable post-season in 2017 (as it turns out, his final NHL stint).
As you can probably tell, I could go on all day, and I haven’t even touched on names like Joe Juneau, Vladislav Namestnikov, or Randy Robitaille (an Ottawa local and one who retired as a Senator). Whether free agents who only stayed one season, rentals from the trade market, or victims of the expansion draft who decided to hang up their skates instead of spending another season as Senators, you have plenty of options when it comes to a favourite single-season Senator. Let us know in the comments below who you consider your favourite Evgeni Dadonov types of yesteryear.