• By: Dave Gross

SENATORS: A Week in Review – November 28-December 4, 2016

ottawa_senatorsSENATORS: A Week in Review is a weekly column
looking back at the week in Ottawa Senators
hockey written by #OLMSports Dave Gross.

Images from NHL.com.

As the legendary Ric “Nature Boy” Flair would bark: “What’s causing all this!!??”

After all, there has to be some reasoning behind the Ottawa Senators startling tumble attendance-wise. This in spite of putting together a highly successful season, so far.

Hockeydb.com – a reputable resource – shows the following: In 2012, Ottawa averaged 19,356 ticket-buyers; 2013: 19,408; 2014: 18,109; 2015: 18,247; 2016: 18,085.

This year: 15,238.

Precipitous and troubling.

There are a few schools of thought at work here. One being Ottawa is a government town and the never-ending Phoenix pay disaster has folks ramping up their Visa bills just to pay for heat/electricity (hi there, Kathleen Wynne) and groceries. Money for hockey tix? Forget about it. (By the way Phoenicians, I am still awaiting my pay from APRIL . . .  but that’s another story for another day).

Another is location (again). Who really wants to wheel it out to east Kanata for a hockey game, then turn around and deal with the same ridiculous traffic snarl going back home?

Apparently not many.


The thought of a rink downtown has plenty of people in a ‘let’s-wait-THEN-go’ frame of mind.

Competition for the sports entertainment dollar is lobbied as another reason, and this certainly has legs. Fans here are nutso over the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Ten games and 10 sell-outs this year, right? A return to the Grey Cup. A Grey Cup win, right? Henry Burris gaining Alfie status, right?

A true love affair, and perhaps a reason why the competition in Kanata has suffered.

But the left brain in me suggests the central cause is something else: Hockey fans in Ottawa are bludgeoned with boredom at the thought of another season with another team just happy to make the playoffs. Really, has this not been the code for the last 10 years?

The excitement built in that Stanley Cup final versus Chris Pronger and the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 was palpable. Alfredsson, Spezza, Phillips, Redden and Dany Heatley. Sure, they got blown out in five games but the horizon was filled with sunshine and lollipops. This was a young team replete with talent and hope.

But unfortunately for Ottawa, since then it’s been a revolving door of repetitive disappointment.


Bryan Murray, Craig Hartsburg, Cory Clouston, Paul MacLean, Dave Cameron and now Guy Boucher. None have succeeded in bringing this team to lofty ground. Four of the past 10 years Ottawa has failed to make the playoffs, and only once, under MacLean, did the Senators win a single playoff round.

Is Boucher the answer, or just another name to slip among those others on Wikipedia?

Well at this point, Ottawa hockey fans seem to be buying into the latter.

* Teams driven by analytics don’t seem to be faring so well. Florida just sacked its head coach (Gerard Gallant) this past week . . . and as per usual, the Arizona Coyotes are sucking wind where coach Dave Tippett is surely to take the blame. While I am sure analytics plays a logistical part in developing a successful product – “Yeah Mr. White! Yeah Science!” – I don’t believe it’s the ultimate predictor. Think it was Brian Burke who offered up the quote about analytics inability to measure heart and desire. Couldn’t agree more.

* Heading to Pittsburgh next week to catch a couple of Penguin games with my old pals Tony Ambrogio (covers the Blue Jays for TSN) and Len Semplice. Len was an assistant with the Owen Sound Platers (OHL) in the early ’90s where he worked with future NHLers Andrew Brunette, Kirk Maltby, Scott Walker, Jason MacDonald and Jamie Storr. Len is a great hockey man; better person.

Tuesday: Buffalo 5, Ottawa 4
Thursday: Philadelphia 3, Ottawa 2 (OT)
Saturday: Ottawa 2, Florida 0

Monday: At Pittsburgh (7:30 pm)
Wednesday: At San Jose (10:30 pm)
Saturday: At Los Angeles (4 pm)
Sunday: At Anaheim (4 pm)