Puck Daddy's Summer of Disappointment: Ottawa Senators Edition
(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!)
Written by Chet Sellers from Bonk's Mullet
Most Disappointing Team: 2005-2006 Ottawa Senators
Disappointment can only be measured relative to expectations - the higher the hopes, the steeper the drop. So there are degrees of disappointment: on the low end, there's the disappointment you felt when your dad gave you Brett Hull Hockey instead of NHL '94 for Christmas.
On the high end, there's the disappointment your dad felt ten years later when he sprang you from county lockup, your Juggalo makeup already a streaked mess from hours of crying.
For Senators fans, that tear-stained Juggalo is the 2005-06 Ottawa Senators.
This team had everything: a 300-point top line, Wade Redden AND Zdeno Chara and a legendary gunslinger in net, back to prove he still had it. They were a fast, shoot-first team that finished first in the league in offense and notched 113 regular-season points. But when Dominik Hasek's 41-year-old hip adductor gave out at the Olympics, it left the team in the hands of 23-year-old rookie Ray Emery, who couldn’t hold the fort when the team’s offense fizzled in the second round of the playoffs. Within months Chara and Hasek were gone, and though the team made the Cup Final the next year, Sens fans knew their stars would never align this well again.
Honorable mention: The President's Trophy-winning 2002-03 team losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to New Jersey with only minutes to go.
Sorry, San Jose – when it comes to disappointment, you'll always be the Stanford to our Harvard.
Most Disappointing Senator: Alexandre Daigle
I mean, how do you decide what makes a player disappointing? We put our hopes in mortal men, and though we will them to be gods, do we ever really know what's they're truly capable of, in their bodies or their hearts? Who are we to decide that a player didn't live up to his potential, based on our outsider expectations of his ability? What right do any of us have?
Just kidding. The most disappointing Senators player ever is Alexandre Daigle, by a mile.
Alexandre Daigle was so good that, in his 1993 draft year, he scored 137 points in 55 games in the QMJHL. Daigle was so good that the Senators were accused of tanking to draft him (it wasn't tanking, for the record. They were terrible). Daigle was so good that not only was he drafted ahead of Chris Pronger, Paul Kariya, and Rob Niedermayer, he also predicted that all these men would die in obscurity.
Alexandre Daigle was so good that he set his season points record three times. It was 51, by the way. Daigle was so good that, once the Senators gave up on him, he was traded four times in two years. Daigle was so good that his name lives on forever, usually at the top of every “Greatest NHL Draft Busts” list.
I’m not telling you anything new about Alexandre Daigle here. But let’s be honest – if there was anyone else in this spot, it just wouldn’t feel right.
Honorable mention: Alexei Kovalev getting $10M to score 76 points . . . over two years.
Most Disappointing Moment in Senators History: 2004: Game 7 vs. the Leafs
To be the most disappointing Senators moment – to be the ne plus ultra of failure – a bad loss isn't going to cut it. A Cup Final loss isn't going to cut it. Even that Devils loss isn't going to cut it.
No, what we're looking for is the worst possible loss, to the worst possible team, at the worst possible time. We're looking for Patrick Lalime's Game 7 meltdown against the Leafs in 2004.
By 2004, the Leafs had driven the Senators insane, eliminating them from the playoffs in three of four years. They had won in sweeps, in seven, with offense, with defense, and with punching. But 2004 was going to be different. For the sake of the children, it had to be.
It wasn't, because in Game 7 Lalime let in two Joe Nieuwendyk goals that were softer than Drake holding a basket of puppies. For Sens fans, this wasn't just a fourth loss to Toronto; it was the most embarrassing possible capper on five years of futility. The highlights from this game can still get a Sens fan to break down like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now.
The irony is that the Senators only made Game 7 thanks to Lalime, who kept them in the series despite three Ed Belfour shutouts. Still, the trauma was too much; Lalime was traded, Jacques Martin was fired, and Sens fans stewed through the lockout. The only silver lining? After the lockout, the Leafs were never good again.
Honorable mention: obviously the Spartan.
Most Disappointing Senators Transaction: Daniel Alfredsson signs with the Red Wings
Really, it doesn’t matter how it went down. You can believe that a 40-year-old Daniel Alfredsson left Ottawa because of a spendthrift owner, a general manager who took him for granted, and a burning desire to win a Cup after 17 back-breaking years carrying a franchise that wasn’t committed to building around him.
You can also believe that Daniel Alfredsson got all boo-boo-faced about taking a discount in the last year of a cap-circumventing deal, threw his team under the bus in the 2013 playoffs, and never negotiated seriously with Ottawa, giving up sainthood to hang out with a bunch of old Swedes who couldn’t finish higher than eighth in the East.
You can even believe it's a little of both.
But no matter what you believe, Alfredsson's departure is the most disappointing transaction in Senators history. It suggested that the team's problems went deeper than fans realized. It exposed God as just another man with vanities and grudges. Worst of all, it showed us that, as we get older, love doesn’t always conquer all. Daniel Alfredsson leaving Ottawa after 17 years is like if The Notebook ended with Gena Rowlands getting her memory back, remembering she’s always loved James Garner, and then cold-cocking him in the side of the head with a shovel.
Honorable mention: Dany Heatley using his no-trade clause to force a deal to San Jose. Hey, how'd that work out?
Most Disappointing Senators Coach/Executive: Eugene Melnyk
Eugene Melnyk is an owner for whom it can be hard to separate truth from rumor. Is he really losing as much money as he claims? Did he really launch a forensic investigation into Matt Cooke? Has he really been to African cage fights?
So rather than sift through rumors to show you why Senators fans are disappointed in Eugene Melnyk, I'll let him tell you in his own words:
“Eventually, [the salary cap] will put Ottawa on a level playing field with all the big markets . . . The one competitive advantage they had was cash. That has been taken off the table.” (2005)
“We’re going to be one of the few teams that will have the opportunity, when it comes to trade deadlines or whenever, when it requires, we’ll have [cap] space.” (2011)
“To be competitive you have to be at least in the top half of spenders. That’s a stat, it’s not just something I’ve made up . . . if you’re not you don’t have much of a chance, it’s just not going to happen.” (2013)
“Any idiot can go spend money. There are so many idiots out there that spend to the cap every year – take a look at where they are. It all comes down to cost per point. That’s the only stat I care about – cost per point.” (2014)
The Senators will likely enter 2014-15 in the NHL's bottom five in payroll. Last season, they had the fourth-best cost-per-point record () in the East.
Final Cost-per-Point Standings @TravisHeHateMe @SensChirp @BonksMullet @SensNation @BringBackLee @sens_adnan pic.twitter.com/KHrdaQZMqu
— TheIanAlex (@TheIanAlex) April 14, 2014
They did not make the playoffs.
Most Disappointing Senators Fashion Choice: The Senagoth
Sens fans have always been split on the team’s Roman theme. Sure, it makes sense to move away from the political image of old people in suits, except that the logo actually depicts a Roman centurion, not a senator, who weren’t that tough either.
Recently, the Senators’ heritage jerseys () have prompted many fans to call for them to be made regular home and away sweaters. Go back to the simpler, prouder times of the original Senators, they say. #GoWithTheO.
They have a point; the current Roman logo isn’t bad, but it looks like Harrison Ford.
And it’s always been impossible to draw.
Tried to draw old sens logo from memory @SensChirp pic.twitter.com/LhkCqC90jJ
— steve zorgy (@zorgy22) April 18, 2013
But you know what’s worse? The last Roman logo, known colloquially as the Senagoth. It looked like somebody just drew the Cure’s Robert Smith under a helmet.
Worse still, the Senators slapped the Senagoth on the two ugliest jerseys ever. This one:
which proved there IS such a thing as too much gold chevron trim, and this one:
... which was basically a Starfleet uniform.
But what makes these jerseys truly disappointing is that the team wore them for a DECADE. So when Sens fans think back on so many of these disappointing moments, they probably happened in one of these jerseys.
• • •
Other disappointments (in order of appearance): New York Rangers • Calgary Flames • St. Louis Blues • New York Islanders • Dallas Stars • Boston Bruins • Colorado Avalanche • Washington Capitals • Arizona Coyotes • Minnesota Wild • Edmonton Oilers • San Jose Sharks • Winnipeg Jets • New Jersey Devils • Los Angeles Kings • Florida Panthers • Carolina Hurricanes • Buffalo Sabres • Montreal Canadiens • Tampa Bay Lightning • Chicago Blackhawks • Columbus Blue Jackets • Nashville Predators • Detroit Red Wings • Anaheim Ducks • Philadelphia Flyers • Pittsburgh Penguins • Vancouver Canucks • Toronto Maple Leafs