Sens Thoughts – September 18th, 2015

  1. This past Tuesday the Sens organization did a really cool thing, extending an invitation to Ottawa’s bloggers and active social media users to join the local media for a behind-the-scene tour of the Canadian Tire Centre (CTC), as well as a Q&A session with Cyril Leeder, Randy Lee, and Pierre Dorion.  I was lucky enough to secure an invite, and my next few thoughts will be from that.
  2. The team introduced the new metal detectors that will be in place this season as mandated by the NHL. They won’t interfere with any medical devices such as pacemakers. Fans will have to remove any metallic devices from their pockets as they did for the random wandings last season. The bag policy that was put into effect last year will still apply as well.  The biggest change is that once you enter the building, you won’t be able to leave unless it’s an emergency which the team will deal with on a case by case basis. That means no more smoke breaks.
  3. There has been a huge overhaul at the CTC in terms of concessions, with 20 stands having been upgraded. Tim Hortons coffee will now be available at 14 stands, compared to 3 last season. New vendors for this season include Farm Boy (which will sell sushi, soups, chili, sandwiches, salads, chips & salsa, and more) and Smoke’s Burritorie. Fatboys will be returning after a successful year as well.
  4. We got a tour of the new Club Bell which will certainly be a VIP experience for anyone who is lucky enough to land a ticket there. It’s only open to season ticket holders, and starts at $10k a seat. You may be wondering if there’s a market in Ottawa for a section like that, but in fact the majority of it has already sold out, including all the suites. Despite it’s construction reducing the capacity of the CTC by 450 seats, the team expects it to increase ticket revenue by ~10%. The tickets in this section include a new one way valet in which you drop off your car and have it parked for you, and then have your keys returned to you in the 1st intermission. They also include access to a high end food buffet, some of the dishes which we got to sample. The only thing you’ll be paying for in this section is your alcohol.
  5. The team is also constructing a new permanent TSN studio in the 100 level section which is where TSN will broadcast from. It will be open to the public which can get an up close look at their favourite TSN personalities.
  6. As mentioned, following the tour we got to listen to a Q&A session with Leeder, Lee, and Dorion. Of note was Leeder mentioning that there will be a public consultation for the four Lebreton Flat proposals in January, with a decision to come mid to late 2016. Lee also brought light to an exhibition game between the Carleton Ravens and the Binghamton Senators at the Carleton University Ice House on September 28th. You can still get tickets here. After the Q&A, Lee and Dorion were gracious enough to give us bloggers some time to field them some questions.
  7. I was able to ask Dorion about the possibility of Curtis Lazar playing in the AHL.
  8. I was also able to inquire whether or not the Senators staffed any advanced stats person.
  9. Ian and Michaela from Silver Seven Sens asked plenty more questions to Lee and Dorion which you can find here. I’d like to think that we were able to ask some questions that the traditional media wouldn’t. Once again, it was great the Ottawa Senators were willing to extend this invite to us and acknowledge the voice that the digital community has.
  10. Colin Greening had a great quote yesterday. He’s easily one of the most likable players on the team and it seems pretty clear he’s not going anywhere. It would be nice to see him bounce back this season and at least offer some real competition for a spot on the fourth line. Although, unsuccessful on the scoresheet last season, he was productive when it came to advanced stats. A few more bounces to start the season and very well may change the narrative.
  11. I’m going to go on record now and say I think Jared Cowen is going to have himself a solid season. Now that he’s healthy with the lower expectations of just holding onto a spot on the third pairing, I think we’ll see a completely different player from the past two years. We’ve seen flashes of the player we want, especially when he returned from injury two years ago in that game against Carolina. Here’s hoping we see more of that this year.
  12. With the announcement that Daniel Alfredsson is rejoining the organization as the Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations, the next question that probably comes up is when is his jersey going to be retired. I firmly believe that it will be next season. It’s too perfect not to. 2016-2017 will be the Senators 25th anniversary and 2017 is Canada’s 150th anniversary. We’ll most likely be getting an outdoor game against the Montreal Canadiens. There’s nothing more perfect than adding a jersey retirement to the season’s itinerary.
  13. Despite the success of the Clarke MacArthur-Kyle Turris-Mark Stone line last season, I’d like to see Bobby Ryan move back up and take Stone’s place. If that line can put together the magic they had together two seasons ago, it would be fun to watch. It’s also mainly because I’d love to see what a line of Mike Hoffman-Mika Zibanejad-Mark Stone could do.
  14. This is an interesting training camp this year, in that there are actually spots to be won. With Chris Phillips out for likely half the season, there are only six NHL defenceman on the roster. One injury or a stretch of bad performances and there’s an opening. The edge definitely has to go to Chris Wideman, especially given that he’s a right handed shot (RHS) and the team in the past has preferred to run a LHS and RHS on each pairing. Cowen and Mark Borowiecki are both LHSs, so that’s worth watching. Wideman also has the potential to bring some much needed offence to the D. He had 61 points in 75 games last season. Even if you cut that in half, he would have still had more than Ottawa’s 2nd leading defenceman in scoring, Cody Ceci who had 21 in 81.
  15. When it comes to forwards, the race is literally wide open. The fourth line is a tad crowded with four players in Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Alex Chiasson, and Greening. One injury though, and the team has shown it’s not afraid to scratch a roster player to give a prospect a chance. I think it’s Matt Puempel’s spot to lose, but if Shane Prince impresses, his need to pass through waivers may give him the edge. Guys like Buddy Robinson, Max McCormick, Nick Paul, Ryan Dzingel, and Tobias Lindberg also have an outside shot, especially if they can put on a performance in the preseason games.
  16. Lastly, this Sunday is the Ottawa Senators Fan Fest. Last season was the first year they decided to make this a big paid event. I wrote a review of it last year which you can read here. All I can say is if you’re a Sens fans, it’s well worth your time. You get a free Bobby Ryan bobblehead which essentially pays off your ticket. This event is the best opportunity to meet roster players for autographs/photos. The team scrimmage is always fun to watch after a summer of no hockey, and the informal Q&As are much more interesting to listen to than the typical safer media interviews on television and radio. Be sure to check it out!