• By: Dave Gross

Ottawa Fan Should Be Thinking: ‘Pinto-Shminto’

Folks will tell you to try and appreciate what you have, as opposed to what you don’t. You’ve heard of it I’m sure: Gratitude.

So try laying down this wisdom on a hockey fanatic. Go ahead, try it.

In most cases it doesn’t go very far . . . a waste of time. Face it, hockey fans are as frantic, anxious and prone to over-thinking as say, a New England Patriot fan who’s off to a (satisfying to non-fans) 1-2 start to the NFL season.

Never mind the eight dozen championships you’ve won over there Boston, just concentrate on this smallest of small sample sizes. Focus on the negative, Patriots.

Go ahead.

With this long-winded start to this week’s column fully in place, we switch gears and focus on to the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. You might remember them? The team that hasn’t made the playoffs since Canadians celebrated the sesquicentennial anniversary of confederation. (Isn’t Wikipedia great?).

The drudgery that this fan base slogged through from 2017 until well, now, is legendary around Eastern Ontario watering holes.

There just wasn’t much – if anything – to give a whole lot of thanks for.

Till now.

In 2023-24, this ‘newish-look’ team has been slotted into an Eastern Conference playoff spot by loads of experts. And that’s unheard of, lately. Ottawa’s pegged for the post-season come springtime, that with an exclamation mark from over here.

So outside of a few “Isn’t that Mike Andlauer guy just the bees-knees!” rah-rah-sis-boom-bah stories, the one newsmaker that won’t go away surrounds a third-line centre.

Seriously, that’s the focus? You’re getting your underwear in knots over the third-line centre?

In case you missed it, which is highly doubtable if you’ve even glanced at the hockey section of your paper/website, Shane Pinto hasn’t signed.


He’s a restricted free agent yet he’s unaffordable for the suddenly deep-pocketed Senators because they’re close-to-the-salary-cap. My lord – close-to-the-salary-cap. Was a time – recently, remember – when the organization practically had to scrape and claw its way to the floor of the cap.

The freaking floor.

Now it’s juggling money and bodies enough to fit into the NHL’s current structure. (By-the-by, the cap is slated to rise dramatically during the next two seasons).

And so the main focus, the stuff we keep hearing and reading about, is Pinto.

Good kid, good talent, solid defensively . . . but it’s not like you’re on the precipice of losing, say, Tom Brady (Hi again, New England!).

I’m guessing the point here is – Ottawa fans drink from the same trough of unglued, sweating-bullets, over-thinking as any other group of dedicated followers do.

That’s the way things are.

Pinto will sign by the way. Just breathe.

Gratitude does go a long way in life. Just maybe not so much in professional sports.

Focus people. Focus.


THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: Media is all over the run Toronto blueliner Conor Timmins is enjoying this pre-season (seven points in two games). I read it and think: Brandon Bochenski . . . Maybe that’s harsh but I’ll do pretty much anything for a smart-ass analogy . . . Timmins has done his due diligence in the gym though, reportedly putting on some 20-plus pounds of muscle in the off-season . . . Add to that, Toronto needs any help it can get on the defence . . . Four consecutive thoughts on Conor Timmins (now, five). Go figure . . . No doubt Montreal’s expecting bigger things from 6-foot-3, 240-lbs Juraj Slafkovsky in Year 2 whose first year ended with a bad knee. “The expectations that he has to live with, sometimes they’re unfair,” offered Habs head coach Martin St. Louis to the Gazette on the first-overall pick in 2022. “Obviously he has speed, he’s got strength and he can shoot the puck.” . . . The battle for jobs in Montreal will be a tough one with 69 skaters invited to camp. Defence will be the toughest and look for Gustav Lindstrom and Logan Mailloux to figure into the mix . . . If you’re thinking about the regular season schedule for Ottawa, here’s a couple of notables: The Senators open in Carolina on Oct. 11th (7 pm, Sportsnet); first home game is versus Philadelphia, Oct. 14th (1 pm, TSN5); then home to Tampa, Oct. 15th (7 pm, TSN5) . . . Thirteen of Ottawa’s first 17 games are at home . . . Oct. 24th should be a dandy between the East’s top two up-and-comers as Buffalo visits Ottawa (6:45 pm, TSN5) . . . Ottawa’s first look at Erik Karlsson and his new digs? Oct. 28th in Pittsburgh (7 pm, Sportsnet) . . . First opportunity to see the Leafs and their legion of fans? In Ottawa, Dec. 7th (7 pm, TSN4, TSN5).


Photo: Courtesy USA Today Sports