So. Thursday was fun, wasn’t it?
The Ottawa Senators are a special kind of hockey team. They’ve never been content to do things quite like everyone else. I know every fanbase probably feels that way, but I’m telling you, the Sens cannot do anything normally. Fourteen points out of a playoff spot in February with no NHL-calibre options in net and a generational talent available in the draft? Time to win every game from here on out. Fresh off a deep playoff run with a young core and the best defenseman in the world? Time to tear everything down. You signed your RFAs during the offseason? We’re signing our best player mere hours before the start of the regular season, just in time for him to make a dramatic entrance in the stands mid-game.
What I’m saying is, the epic highs and lows of Ottawa Senators hockey are something to behold.
I think it’s exactly because things are so bleak all the time that the good moments end up being so much fun. For example, we spent this offseason waiting and waiting and waiting for a Tkachuk contract, recycling the same tired talking points, slowly working ourselves up until we were sure Tkachuk was going to leave. The return to in-person games should have been fun, but instead there was this dark cloud hanging over the franchise.
And then, in one moment, everything was okay again. Brady didn’t just sign any contract; he signed for seven years, tweeting out a joker gif right before the official announcement, hours before puck drop on the first in-person Sens game since early 2020.
It was a fantastic day.
And it’s the kind of thing we see all the time in Ottawa. As Bonk’s Mullet pointed out on Twitter, it feels like there are about five days every year where something good happens to the Sens, and Sens Twitter goes absolutely wild. So, in the spirit of last Thursday being a Very Good Day, I’m asking everyone: what were some of the best days to be a fan of the Ottawa Senators hockey club?
Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about the best moments in Sens history here. I mean, what were the days when you had so much positive energy you could have lifted a bus, or maybe run down the street yelling “Go Sens Go?” Days when there was no room in your brain for anything except the Sens and how awesome they were? No stress, no frustration, no pain, just absolutely immaculate vibes.
Here are my personal submissions.
May 20, 2007: The day after Daniel Alfredsson’s overtime goal sent the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup finals
I’m throwing in one pre-social media event, because this one was so epic and so memorable that I can’t exactly leave it out. I will never forget the pure elation that swept through the entire city after that goal. There’s really nothing like the day after winning a playoff series. Sens merch everywhere, everyone in a good mood, and eight-year-old me saving that day’s newspaper to hang up on my wall as a memory of the best hockey event I had ever witnessed. A simpler time.
May 5, 2013: Jean-Gabriel Pageau scores a hat trick in game 3 of the first round against the Montreal Canadiens
That entire playoff series was something else, but this had to have been the weirdest and best day of all. Pageau coming out of nowhere to score three goals? Losing his tooth in the process? The line brawl? Paul MacLean calling a timeout with 17 seconds left in the game just for fun? Michel Therrien having a meltdown about it? The fans singing “Pageau” to the tune of Montreal’s “ole” song, just to make fun of the Habs? *Chef’s kiss*
I almost can’t believe all those things happened in one game.
By the way, that Pageau song is the single best thing this fandom has ever come up with, and that’s not debatable.
October 2, 2014: Bobby Ryan re-signs and Erik Karlsson is named captain
This is a weird one, because, looking back, neither of these things seem like “best day in franchise history” worthy events. Bobby Ryan never quite lived up to that contract, and even ended up being bought out before he could finish it. Karlsson was obviously traded five years later, and a captaincy announcement isn’t that exciting in the grand scheme of things.
But you have to remember the context.
Alfredsson’s departure was still fresh in our collective memory, and Jason Spezza had only been gone for a few months, having requested a trade ahead of the 2014 offseason. Bobby Ryan was supposed to be our consolation prize for losing Alfie, but his contract was expiring soon and so many players had left us recently that it really felt like his departure was imminent. The team had also failed to convert the momentum of the 2013 Pesky Sens run into something more sustainable, regressing hard in the 2013-14 season. It really did look like the rebuild had failed. Remember all that hand-wringing about “wasting Erik Karlsson’s prime?”
And then, surprise! Bobby Ryan loves it here and Melnyk is going to break the bank for him! Erik Karlsson is the captain of your 2014-15 Ottawa Senators! It’s a new era, one led by young and highly talented players.
Just like that, the tide turned. Bonk’s Mullet gleefully declared it the best day ever, celebrations were had all over social media, and I had a very unproductive day at school. You kind of had to be there to understand, but I promise it was a very exciting day. Even if it is a little bit sad to look back on now.
April 7, 2015: Mark Stone’s two goals spur comeback from down 3-0 against the Pittsburgh Penguins
Really, I could put the whole Hamburglar run on here. I spent those two months floating around on a high that I will never be able to match for the rest of my life. It feels like a fever dream, looking back. If I had to pick the absolute best day of that run, though, I’d have to go with the infamous Penguins game.
Remember that this was at the very end of the regular season. The magic was starting to wear off just a little bit. The Sens had started actually losing games on occasion. A loss to Pittsburgh could very well have meant the end of the team’s playoff chances. Instead, they rallied and came back to win the game, giving us the best #StoneFace of all time.
I started that day the same way I started every game day during that run: extremely hyped to watch Ottawa Senators hockey. I ended it absolutely screaming at my TV.
April 29, 2017: Jean-Gabriel Pageau scores 4 goals in a spectacular comeback against the Rangers in game 2 of the second round
Oh hey, I was at that game!
Part of what made this day so great was the fact that it was an afternoon game. I was having the time of my life at the arena, and then I got to experience the crowd during that epic comeback, and then I walked out into bright sunlight and warm weather and my whole bus sang the Pageau song together on the ride home.
This wasn’t just one game. It was a whole day of hockey-related joy. I’ll never forget it.
February 15, 2021: The Sens come back from down 5-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs
Look. In the grand scheme of things, was this game in any way important? No. Is it a little bit pathetic that we all enjoyed it so much? Maybe. But again, you have to look at it in context.
We were in a global pandemic, with no way of meeting up in person and nothing to do except sit at home and watch hockey. The NHL had only just come back after about ten months off. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was definitely losing my mind. Getting the chance to go absolutely buckwild over a hilarious comeback against the Leafs was such a welcome distraction from everything. For a few blissful hours, it was like nothing bad had ever happened, ever.
What do you think was the best day in Ottawa Senators history? Where do you think Thursday ranks?
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