The Ottawa Senators are just one week away from the start of their training camp to kick off the 2021-22 season and Brady Tkachuk is still without a new contract. General manager Pierre Dorion is confident that he will be in camp but the anticipation is eating away at the fanbase. They’ve been teased with the development and rookie camp this past weekend so they’re ready to get the real thing underway. On the plus side, single-game tickets are available now, so if you’re itching to get back into the Canadian Tire Centre, the wait is over.
Item One: Tkachuk Contract Update
According to Ottawa Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch, the Senators have offered Tkachuk a contract in the neighbourhood of eight years and $64 million, the same deal defenceman Thomas Chabot signed two years ago. If the reports are accurate, it would put both Tkachuk and Chabot at the top of the list in regards to the highest cap hits on the team.
The 21-year-old power forward has been the focal point of discussion all summer when talking about the Senators. Not only is his contract status an issue, but it’s also been said that the organization would like to make him the next captain of the franchise as well. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has been shockingly upfront about the whole situation, stating several times he would like the next captain to be on a long-term deal and not on a bridge (short-term extension). His appearance on the Bob McCown podcast back in May is the conversation in particular.
“That’s going to be what we’re thinking about all summer and whether he’s the person for that. It would have to be someone who’s got to be around for the long-term. That’s the key for us. You can’t have a captain there on a bridge contract. It’s not going to happen.”– Eugene Melnyk
When listening to Dorion and other teammates speak about this upcoming season and Tkachuk is mentioned, you can hear the confidence within them that they know he’ll be there. It’s no question that he is an integral piece to this team’s core of Chabot, Drake Batherson, Josh Norris, and Tim Stützle among others. Stützle has even commented on the fact that he and Norris will no longer be living with Tkachuk this year but said his place is just five minutes down the road.
When negotiations are carried out this long, it usually forecasts that the player won’t sign until the last possible day or minute. If a long-term deal isn’t signed by Monday, two days before camp opens, it becomes increasingly more likely that Tkachuk will sign a short-term deal.
Item Two: Single-Game Tickets Available, Proof of Vaccination Required
The wait is over. After what felt like an eternity, 552 days to be exact, single-game tickets are now available for purchase in Ottawa. The online ticket sales started today at 10 a.m. and just the first half of the regular season games were accessible. Unfortunately, the province of Ontario has yet to inform any of its professional sports teams, including the Ontario Hockey League, just how many people are allowed to be in attendance this year.
When the Senators begin their season on Oct. 14 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the hope is that the building will be at full capacity. As it currently stands, only 1,000 patrons are allowed into the building but these ticket sales are forecasting that this will change next month. If a decision is made to put a cap on the number of people allowed into the CTC, the organization will be forced to change their plans.
If you plan on attending any game this year in Ottawa, you will have to be fully vaccinated as well. Here is a statement from the organization.
The health and safety of our patrons and staff is of the utmost priority. As such, we have implemented strict protocols to adhere to provincial and city of Ottawa guidelines in an effort to maintain the safety of our fans.
Proof of full vaccination, at least 14 days in advance of the game date, in addition to government issued photo identification will be required upon entry for all fans 12 years of age and older. Children under the age of 12 will be permitted venue access if accompanied by a fully vaccinated guardian and in compliance with all safety guidelines. Face masks will also be required to be worn by all patrons (with the exception of when eating or drinking) while a newly installed air filtration system will serve as an added safety measure at Canadian Tire Centre.– Senators Sports & Entertainment
Until the province rolls out the vaccine passport, you will either need the slip of paper or email proof stating you’ve had both doses to enter. When the Senators rookies take on the Montreal Canadiens rookies this Saturday, Sept. 18, the 1,000 fans will have to wear a mask, be fully vaccinated, socially distanced and have valid photo identification. Proof of vaccine status will be required even though the provincial rules don’t kick in until the 22nd.
Item Three: Development and Rookie Camp
Amidst all the Tkachuk news and ticket sales was the Sens’ development and rookie camp. The camp will run from Sept. 11-20 and we’ll get the first look at four goaltenders, seven defencemen and 13 forwards. Among those invited to camp are Jacob Bernard-Docker, Lassi Thomson, Ridly Greig and Shane Pinto. Of the 24 attendees, 18 were drafted by the Sens and the remaining six are on tryouts.
The development camp, from Sept. 11-14, focused on the on-ice skills and training as well as presentations off-ice. The rookie camp, which starts today through Sept. 20, will mainly focus on daily on-ice practices, led by head coach Troy Mann and his assistants, David Bell and Ben Sexton of the Belleville Senators in the American Hockey League (AHL). The first part of the camp had everyone focusing on the 2020 draft choice, Egor Sokolov. The 21-year-old, who is 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds, has arguably been the best player of the 20 skaters, giving the Senators something to think about in regards to a main camp invite and roster spot.
Angus Crookshank seems to be making a name for himself at camp as well. The 21-year-old winger signed his entry-level contract with the Senators on March 17 and joined the Belleville Senators for the remaining 19 games where he recorded five goals and 16 points.
“It was really beneficial,” Crookshank said “It was a big jump from college. Guys are bigger, faster, stronger. The pace of play is that much quicker. But the guys and the coaching staff and the veterans really helped me along and by the end of it I felt like I was starting to catch on to the speed of things and felt a little more comfortable.” A jump to the NHL is most likely not in the cards for Crookshank but it does put his name at the forefront for call-ups throughout the year.
What’s Next for the Senators?
As previously mentioned, the Sens’ rookies will take on the Habs’ rookies on Sept. 18 and Sept. 20. The first game will be held at the Canadian Tire Centre and the second will be at the Complexe Sportif Bell in Brossard, Quebec. Both games will be played at 4:05 p.m. Eastern Standard Time but it’s not clear if the game will be televised or streamed. This time next week there are sure to be big headlines as the main camp starts and the Tkachuk contract status looms in the background.
Giovanni Siciliano is a freelance contributor for The Hockey Writers that focuses on the Ottawa Senators. He is a lifelong hockey fan who aims to give his readers more knowledge and better insight pertaining to the game. When Giovanni isn’t covering the latest news & rumours in Ottawa, he is usually crying about being a Detroit Lions fan, playing video games or rewatching The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Office or Seinfeld for the 1000th time. After completing an internship at The Hockey News, and having his stories published like this one, Giovanni knew he wanted to make this a career and share his passion for the game with others. He hosted the FaceOff Hockey Podcast before joining the team at THW, and currently co-hosts and produces the Improversation podcast. To interact with Giovanni about the Sens, NHL, NFL, T.V shows or games, you can follow him on Twitter by clicking here. You can also read more of his articles here.