• By: Dave Gross

Let me get this straight – Ottawa is, um, fun?

If Ottawa is indeed the town that fun forgot, no one stepped up to tell the local hockey community to keep the noise down after sunset. That was pretty evident Tuesday night at the usually vacant, silent-as-a-library (shh!) Canadian Tire Centre during the Ottawa Senators’ home opener.

A sell-out? Come on. No way. That doesn’t happen here, right?

Noise? Impossible!

And yet, there you have it.

Last time it was like this, guys like Hossa and Chara and Havlat and Bonk were zipping around in front of the hopeful crowds. Now the torch has (finally) been passed to guys like Tkachuk and Norris and Zub and Chabot. Hope is back and it made a generally morose place to be lively and merry.

The game itself, where Ottawa hung on to beat Boston 7-5, was the perfect ignition switch. The game was far from perfect from the Senators’ side of things, but it was never boring.

A win’s a win, correct?

“Obviously, offensively we did all the things we wanted to do (Tuesday), but clearly gave up too much,” said Ottawa head coach D.J. Smith.

“There was a lot of nerves, you could see it on the bench. I thought we played really well in the first two games and didn’t get the results, so we’ll just take the win and move on.”

Sure it was messy; sloppy at times. The big takeaway though? Game 1 at the old(ish) barn was just like old times. And who doesn’t appreciate that.

“Wow, look at the support we got here,” Brady Tkachuk told TSN while scanning the crowd right after the game. “This is amazing . . . Thanks for the great energy tonight. You fuelled us to a win tonight so thank you guys.”

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: A test of Ottawa Fan’s restored faithfulness? Saturday’s supposed to be sunny and warm, and Ottawa has Arizona into the barn for a 4 pm start. That’s called a hard sell . . . Don’t sell the Coyotes too short as a hockey team. They might have limited talent, but they play hard, as Toronto found out this week . . . Still, the end game in Arizona is winning the Connor Bedard sweepstakes at the next draft . . . Didn’t think I’d be saying this this season: Montreal is an exciting, fun team to watch play . . . Unsure of this one: who’d win a virtue signalling throw-down between Ron MacLean and the current prime minister? . . .  Has MacLean forgotten he’s there to talk hockey? Once upon a time he did just that . . . On the other hand, Kevin Bieksa continues to be a solid find. Glad he and his perspective are back for another season . . . Guys I miss from hockey broadcasting: Dick Beddoes (interviewing Harold Ballard), Al Strachan, Harry Neale, Bob Cole (oh, baby!) and of course Danny Gallivan, Dick Irvin and Dan Kelly . . . And I wouldn’t mention it but it’s the second time I’ve heard this on a broadcast this season – Claude Giroux’s hometown of Hearst, Ont., isn’t “just around the corner” from Ottawa, unless you think 943 kms. is a Sunday drive . . . The Dallas Stars are in Ottawa Monday and are off to a 3-0 start. Last season’s (brief) playoff stud Jake Oettinger’s won all three and sports a .966 save percentage. The most interesting story in Dallas though is the Stars leading scorer, Mason Marchment (three goals, five points; 18 goals, 47 points last season) who signed as a free agent away from Florida. The gritty Marchment was a Maple Leaf for a brief spell before being traded in 2020 to the Panthers for Denis Malgin. That’s one GM Kyle Dubas would like to have back . . . With the Leafs, now that Jake Muzzin is down (again), the frailties of that defence stand out even further. As terrific as Morgan Rielly is, no way can he carry the full load . . . You think Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe knows his neck’s on the line this season? You think Dubas knows his is as well? . . . Wonder what Mark Hunter’s doing these days?


Wednesday, Oct. 20: Washington at Ottawa (7 pm)

Saturday, Oct. 22: Arizona at Ottawa (4 pm)

Monday, Oct. 24: Dallas at Ottawa (7 pm)


Photo: via CBC Sports