As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. Gone but not forgotten, we've asked for these losers to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here's M. Forbes of Bitter Leafs Fan, fondly recalling this season's Ottawa Senators.
Dearly beloved, the Senators' season ended at Game 86 Wednesday night.
For once, choking wasn't the cause of death.
The 2007-08 Senators were born of great promise. Fresh off the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final appearance, the team rolled out to a scorching 15-2 start. It was a winning streak so hot that media types wondered if the Sens were the second coming of the 1976 Habs.*
The team that started off so well went south in a hurry. From a 15-2 start, the Senators went 28-29-8 to finish the regular season and no one inside or outside the organization could cite a reason why.
Perhaps they realized that they lived and played in Ottawa, a dismal, barren cold place officially known as the city that fun forgot.
Perhaps meddling ownership was to blame.
Or maybe it all comes down to leadership.
How many times can a franchise publicly try to trade Wade Redden, the assistant captain no less, and then wonder why he's playing without any confidence?
Daniel Alfredsson's heroic early return aside, what type of leader keeps a souvenir puck from a devastating 4-1 home loss that puts his team down 3-0?
When will the Sens realize that no team, organization, corporation, militia or babysitting club has ever accomplished anything when led by a man nicknamed Giggles. (Appropriate hockey nicknames: The Captain; The Great One; The Magnificent; Killer; even the Orbs of Power. Giggles? Not even in women's hockey.)
There will be much discussion and debate regarding the battle of the back-up goalies and the alleged locker-room divide but pretty much all you need to know about the demise of the Senators is this:
• Mike Commodore lead the team in post-season scoring;
• Heatley: 0G 1A 6 PIMs, and a team leading minus-5;
• Spezza: 0G 1A 0 PIMs, minus-4;
• The big draft deadline acquisition Martin Lapointe** was in the penalty box when Pittsburgh scored the winning goal in game two.
The team is survived by the awful, lingering memory of one of the worst pre-game ceremonies of all time (at least no doves were fried at the opening ceremony in Kanata -- ffwd to 4:50).
In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to your local ileostomy association (for the gutless), Capital City Diving Club or the Cedar Hill Golf and Country Club.
Sens fans can now resume cheering for all the teams they were originally fans of.
*Are the 2007-08 Sens and '76 Habs comparable? The answer is a resounding NO. The '76 Habs hold a modern record for losing just eight games in the entire season - the same number of losses the Sens would post in the month of March alone. Unfortunately, in searching for an analogue the media were two decades and 450 miles off. It wasn't the 1976 Habs that the Sens looked like so much as it was the "legendary" 1998 Philadelphia Flyers. Fresh off a Stanley Cup Finals loss, the '98 Flyers underwent a front-office shake-up and started the season with a new coach. The team struggled, the coach was fired in March and the Flyers went out in five games in the opening round of the playoffs.
**Little known fact: The NHL CBA requires the Sens to make a bi-annual trade with Chicago for a player that should be a healthy scratch.