written by Ian C McLaren (@iancmclaren)
The month of October has come and gone, and with it, a whole slew of NHL hockey games. As a result, one of last year’s surprise teams is left with the bitter taste of having lost in a Game 7 for an indefinite period of time.
October was meant to be a time where the Ottawa Senators set out to prove that last year was no fluke, where Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek attempted to replicate some of the magic they wove together last season, Erik Karlsson quieted all those who said that he was not worthy of winning the Norris Trophy, and Daniel Alfredsson kicked off what was probably going to be his final season as a player in the NHL.
It was also the month where Mike Zibanejad proved that he was able to hang with the big boys, Robin Lehner secured his position as the goalie of the future and/or present, and other young players such as Mark Stone, Jakob Silfverberg, Jared Cowen & Stephane Da Costa set out to make a mark of their own in the NHL.
Instead, the powers and egos that be decided to temporarily mothball the whole operation while they sort out how to divide an ever-dwindling HRR pie, and October’s games were wiped out.
- Thursday, Oct. 11, at Montreal. The season opener vs their closest divisional rivals, a squad that was retooled and looking to steal a playoff spot away from the Sens. The Bell Centre atmosphere would have been electric, and it sure would have been more ‘must see’ than what ‘The Office’ has become on Thursday nights.
- Saturday, Oct. 13, vs. Washington. The home opener, on a Saturday night, against Ovechkin & Co. What more could a hockey fan ask for?
- Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Pittsburgh. Instead of witnessing a date with Crosby & Malkin, we’re left wondering how long it will be until ‘Ben & Kate’ is canceled.
- Friday, Oct. 19, at New Jersey. Another tough road game, and with it a chance to knock off the defending Eastern Conference Champions, now sans Parise.
- Saturday, Oct. 20, at Toronto. The season’s first installment of the Battle of Ontario, this may or may not have been Ottawa’s first opportunity to stack up against the newest member of the Maple Leafs, Roberto Luongo. Everyone across the province would have been tuned into this game, and even though this rivalry has cooled a touch in recent years, any time one of these games is wiped off the schedule, it’s a crime against hockey.
- Tuesday, Oct. 23, vs. Dallas. In one of the more surprising off-season moves, the Stars were able to convince Jaromir Jagr to sign in the Lone Star State, hoping that he could do for Jamie Benn what he did for Claude Giroux in Philly last season. Throw in the underrated Loui Eriksson and the ageless Ray Whitney, and Dallas would have been a fun team to check out this year.
- Friday, Oct. 26, vs. Pittsburgh. The second game in 10 days against the Penguins, this Friday night matchup would have been a hot ticket. And who knows, Sens fans may have once again been treated to these killer renditions of the anthems, just like the last time Pittsburgh came to town.
- Sunday, Oct. 28, vs. N.Y. Rangers. Forget football; there’s nothing quite like afternoon hockey, especially in the fall. This game would have had some extra mustard to it as it would have been a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff series, where the 8th seeded Senators came this close to knocking off the Rangers. This also would have marked the first time that Sens fans would have seen Rick Nash – a player they reportedly heavily pursued in the summer – in Broadway Blue.
- Tuesday, Oct. 30, at N.Y. Islanders. Finally, the Sens would have wrapped up the month on Long Island, against a would-be upstart Islanders team looking to make their mark in the Eastern Conference. Much like the Habs at the beginning of the month, NYI would have been a team gunning to move up in the hockey world, and it would have been a strong end to the month were the Sens able to keep them a step or two down the Conference ladder.
There you have it, Ottawa fans; for better or worse, and with any number of possible outcomes, this is what October would have looked like for the Senators. And unfortunately, this may we become a recurring theme over the course of what would have been the 2012-13 NHL season.
A glimmer of hope was created over the weekend as Bll Daly and Steve Fehr held not-so-secret talks on Saturday, with a plan to meet again this week. It remains to be seen whether any tangible progress was made, so you can expect at least one more such post at the beginning of December.
Beyond that, one can only hope that sooner than later, we can begin to look ahead at what might be rather than back at what could have been.