(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers who hated them the most. Here’s Andrew Berkshire of Habs Eyes On The Prize and Mike Obrand. Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)
By Andrew Berkshire and Mike Obrand
Hello and welcome as we bid adieu to the most blissfully unaware and naval-gazing organization in pro sports, the 2012-13 Ottawa Shenatorsh.
The reaction around most of the NHL when the news came out that the Sens were eliminated was a mildly confused “There’s a team in Ottawa?”
Yes, my friends, there is a team there, although Canada’s Phoenix Coyotes aren’t really located in Ottawa, they play in Kanata, which is actually quite far away from Ottawa.
When awarded an expansion NHL franchise on Dec. 6, 1990, the Senators faced an extreme uphill battle to create a fanbase in an area dominated by both Leafs and Habs fans. 20 years after their first NHL season in 1992-93, Ottawa remains a city dominated by Habs and Leafs fans. Perhaps that’s why the franchise and fanbase has such a hilarious inferiority complex.
To make matters worse for the desperately reaching fanbase, the Senators have completely failed to create a team identity outside of being generally boring to watch for their entire history. This is especially troublesome when their division has four other teams with strong identities.
The Montreal Canadiens: Small and skilled
The Boston Bruins: Big and physical
The Toronto Maple Leafs: Terrible at hockey
The Buffalo Sabres: Annoying cheap shot artists
The Senators had an opportunity to give themselves an identity early on in their history, with five straight top-three picks, which netted them the most hated player in franchise history, the most well-known bust in NHL history, another huge bust with a mullet, a player who’s best known for having his eye carved out by another Ottawa Senator, and Chris Phillips.
Not exactly a glorious start to a franchise, and probably why one of the most notable players in the team’s history is Chris Neil.
Neil is the gum in your hair of the NHL, a player every team has, but no one cares about. A player like that being the second most well-known face in your team’s history would be like the Habs (or three other teams he played for) lionizing Todd Ewen.
You’re probably thinking “who the hell is Todd Ewen?” and that’s exactly the point. Todd Ewen is a real person who played NHL hockey but you had to Google him to find out who he was… That’s exactly what you’re going to be doing with Chris Neil in a few years. And besides, players of note don’t wear their children’s helmets.
Neil at his most recent contract signing looking suspiciously like Adebesi from HBO’s "Oz."
Even though they spent the first half of their existence rolling around in the sewage of the NHL, the Senators did find one diamond in the rough to make up for all the garbage they drafted when diamonds were available yearly on silver platters. That player is Daniel Alfredsson, who might have a shot at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In fact, Alfredsson is so synonymous with the Senators that he was the only player Senators fans named to their “Mount Puckmore” for Puck Daddy that wasn’t a complete embarrassment to the franchise.
Alfredsson is pretty much the only superstar who hasn’t left Ottawa for greener pastures, yet for some odd reason, Senators fans have never warmed up to “Alfie,” and became especially critical of him since he was named team captain. Alfredsson is regularly booed at home games, especially when the Leafs are in town, as Sens fans show their displeasure with him always failing against Toronto in the playoffs.
That dissatisfaction with Alfredsson reached a boiling point when Ottawa hosted the 2012 NHL All-Star game and he was booed both when he was introduced as team captain, and when he scored.
But upon further review, maybe Sens fans are on to something when they boo Alfredsson, as it turns out he’s a bit of a clown.
Alfredsson looked broken and defeated after the Penguins took a 3-1 series lead this week, when asked whether the Sens could come back and win the series, he answered “Probably not."
As it turned out, it was the only time Alfredsson has ever backed up a prediction.
A guy who was nominated for the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2013 gave up on his team before they had faced a single elimination game. Then again, considering the other two guys nominated for the award are Dustin “Brad Marchand West” Brown and Jonathan “Choker” Toews, maybe Messier’s picks are the problem.
Will Alfredsson win a Cup with the Senators? “Probably not.”
But fear not Sens fans, there are plenty of ways Alfie could win a cup when he demands a trade next year.
Terrible Photoshops for a terrible player.
To make up for the inevitable end of the Alfredsson era, like a family buying a puppy when the old dog is a month from being put down, Sens fans have a new star player to latch on to for no reason: Recent Norris Trophy winner (because Zdeno Chara was somehow ignored) Erik Karlsson.
Sens fans love Karlsson so much, that they’ve transferred all of their inherent insecurities as hockey fans onto him and him alone. If you so much as question the idea that Karlsson is the “best defenseman in the NHL and it’s not even close” you will nearly drown in the tears shed by offended preteens.
But last time I checked, great defensemen don’t do this. But then again, maybe he just learned a little bit too much from teammate Chris Phillips. As we all know, that was the Stanley Cup winning goal for the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, awarded to Travis Moen for a harmless dump in.
But never mind that Karlsson was never really (and still isn’t) as good as advertised, there’s been an even bigger problem. It’s one thing to be great but not the greatest, but since he’s returned from an unfortunate injury, well…
Here’s how the news was broken to Chief Inspector Eugene Melnyk:
In all honesty, Karlsson’s miraculous recovery from a partially severed Achilles tendon was the most entertaining thing to happen in Ottawa in years. But that’s pretty easy since Ottawa is objectively the most boring city in the country.
But back to the pathetically unaware team that is the Ottawa Senators. This is a team lacking self awareness so badly that their head coach made fun of P.K. Subban for “locking himself out” for six games while negotiating a contract, with Kyle Turris in the locker room behind him, a guy who held out for more than a third of last season before forcing a trade to the Sens.
And we haven’t even started in on the fanbase yet. A fanbase so desperate for something to hold onto, that they’ve embraced the hashtag #lalala that Erik Karlsson tweeted, without having any idea what it means.
A fanbase that spent an entire series complaining about how dirty the Habs were this year. The Habs were so incredibly dirty against the Sens that they left their first round win with a whopping zero injuries.
A fanbase so sad and pathetic, that the best adjective they could come up with for their team making the playoffs in spite of a couple injuries was “pesky.” No, not resilient, that sounds too good. These Sens are pesky, like a mosquito in your bedroom as you’re trying to sleep.
But the Sens sure weren’t pesky in the end. Say what you will about the 2010 Montreal Canadiens -- they were lucky as it gets and rode a hot goaltender to success, but when they had their backs against the wall, they played their best.
When facing elimination, they won five straight before finally succumbing to the Flyers in the conference finals. The “Pesky Sens” folded up their tent at the first sign of adversity, outscored 13-5 in the final two games.
In the end though, the saddest thing about the Senators is that this eulogy is the most time any one has ever spent thinking about their team.