So many iconic players have donned the red, black, white, and gold since the Ottawa Senators‘ inaugural season in 1992. Sure, they are currently in a rebuild, but there’s no denying there have been many great Senator teams over the years. But which players belong on their Mount Rushmore? I’ll tell you who.
Daniel Alfredsson was undeniably the greatest captain in Senators history and his No. 11 is one of three numbers retired by the franchise. He was named captain in 1999 and was a member of the Senators for 17 seasons. He would have played in Ottawa his entire career if not for a well-publicized feud with Eugene Melnyk.
Alfredsson holds the team record for goals, assists, and points in both the regular season and playoffs. The six-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist was the face of the Senators for 17 years and should eventually be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
First, we must address the elephant in the room. It is deeply disturbing to watch Jason Spezza play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Every time I see him in blue and white, I die a little inside. But there is no denying he left his mark in the nation’s capital. A model of consistency, he racked up 687 points in 686 games and notched 52 points in 56 playoff games. A playmaker by nature, he had an astounding 71 assists in 68 games during the 2005-06 season.
Spezza centered arguably the greatest NHL line of my lifetime with Alfredsson and Dany Heatley. During that period, the Senators made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 and all three were selected to the All-Star Game in 2008. Spezza’s elite playmaking ability was on display every game. Despite his status as a Maple Leaf, he remains a legendary Senator and his No. 19 should be raised to the rafters when he retires.
Everyone remembers 50 in ’07, but how about some love for the All-Star’s 50 in ’06, too? Unarguably the greatest goal scorer in Senators history, the legendary Dany Heatley is deserving of a place on the mountain. On a line with Spezza and Alfredsson, Heatley was unstoppable and spent his years on the team filling the net at an impressive rate. He is the only 50-goal scorer in franchise history and a key player on the team that went to the Cup Final.
Unfortunately, his 2009 trade request remains a dark cloud over his Senators legacy. But truly, who hasn’t asked for a trade out of Ottawa? The only player I can think of is Alfredsson, and we all know how that turned out. Heatley should be forgiven and celebrated for the superstar he was, and not overshadowed by a trade request. The reasons he wanted out have always been kept a secret, but he’s made it clear that it was personal and not a knock at the city of Ottawa or their great fans.
After careful consideration, there is no one else I could have picked for the fourth player on Mount Rushmore. Chris Neil spent his entire 16-year NHL career in Ottawa, playing 1,026 games and another 95 in the playoffs. Neil was a sixth-round draft pick who worked for everything he achieved.
As an enforcer, Neil protected his teammates and never backed down from a fight. Throughout his career, he squared off against the who’s who of NHL enforcers, and here is a short list of some of his opponents over the years:
- Tie Domi
- Milan Lucic
- Ryan Reaves
- Pat Maroon
- Zdeno Chara
- Matt Cooke
- David Clarkson
- Donald Brashear
- Darcy Tucker
Off the ice, Neil has always been engaged in the community, participating in many charitable initiatives, and has continued to reside in Ottawa post-career. His longevity and over 2,500 accumulated penalty minutes made him a no-brainer to be selected to the Senators’ Mount Rushmore. I can’t think of anyone more deserving.
Did I leave anyone out? Is there someone you would have preferred I placed on this list? Make your own Mount Rushmore and post it in the comments.
When I was a kid my parents got me a t-shirt that said “Eat Sleep Hockey” and this is how I turned out. I’m an NHL obsessed never-was with only the very best takes. All of my opinions are genuine and I’m in constant need of validation. I am covering the Ottawa Senators and follow me on Twitter @Bradleychooo