Tag:Daniel Alfredsson
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:11 pm
 

Alfredsson has concussion, Sens GM not happy

By Brian Stubits

Just when things are going good for the surprising Ottawa Senators, they get word that their captain, Daniel Alfredsson, is going to be out for at least a week after sustaining a concussion.

Alfredsson took a hit from Wojtek Wolski of the New York Rangers in Saturday's 5-4 OT Sens win in New York. The league decided not to take any action against Wolski for the hit, concluding he was bracing in anticipation of contact.

Sens GM Bryan Murray was less than pleased with the decision and shared it with Allen Panzeri of Senators Extra.

“There were be no suspension, it was a hockey hit,” said Murray.

“Basically, what I was told was that [Wolski] reacted to contact and stiffened up but didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Just happened to hit Alfredsson in the head.”

Murray told Shanahan he didn’t -- couldn’t -- agree.

“Well, it’s my player, and I have an emotional attachment to it, so no,” he said.

“I told him I didn’t agree. I felt that the player did go out of his way, a little, to make contact, that it was an elbow involved in the play.

“I thought we had determined that a shoulder check ... would be considered an accidental hit, but an elbow to the head I was under the impression there would be a suspension.

Speaking for myself, I concur with Murray on this one. It seemed like a hit that was worthy of further punishment, and I explained more why here. But what I find most interesting here is that this is the most vocal criticism -- even if it is mild in this case -- of Shanahan from inside an organization.

But getting back to Alfredsson, he will now be out until his post-concussion symptoms disappear. There never is any way of truly telling when that might happen, so while the Senators are enjoying a six-game win streak, in the back of their minds they will be thinking of their captain.

In the Sens' start, Alfie has scored four goals and contributed with three assists.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: October 30, 2011 8:01 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 8:03 pm
 

Wolski, Beauchemin won't face punishment for hits

By Brian Stubits

Wojtek Wolski and Francois Beauchemin? You are safe. Neither player will face further discipline for their hits on Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher respectively over the weekend.

Wolski's hit in question came in Saturday's tilt with the Senators in New York. In the play, Wolski hits Alfredsson high on the play away from the puck and drew a minor penalty for the hit that left Alfredsson down on the ice.

Alfredsson missed Sunday night's game against the Maple Leafs because of the hit.

So what was the reasoning the league isn't acting further on the hit? Here's the explanation from Kevin Allen at USA Today: "The league view on the Wolski hit was that Wolski was bracing for impact when Alfredsson skated into him."

Plays like this one not getting more discipline will likely only confuse people as to what is and is not a bad hit. The line seemed to be coming into clarity, but this will only blur it once again. This seemed like a textbook suspension hit at first glance.

The Beauchemin hit on Fisher is much easier to see as not being worthy of discipline.

Here is the hit for your digestion.

Here is the reasoning from Allen in Beauchemin's case: "The league's view was that Beauchemin's hit was a full body check with incidental head contact."

Now this one I can agree with. It is a vicious-looking hit, especially with Beauchemin going airborne on the hit. However, the main contact definitely looks to be on the body, not the head.

For his two cents, Beauchemin said after the game he wasn't concerned about a suspension.

“I’m only concerned about his health," Beauchemin said. "I’m just hoping he’s OK because I think that was just a clean hit shoulder to shoulder. Looking at the replay myself, I think his head might have hit the ice when he fell down. And that’s probably how he got hurt.”

Like Alfredsson, Fisher is going to miss some time after taking the blow.

More NHL Discipline News Here

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 2:51 pm
 

Fabian Brunnstrom gets a deal in Detroit

FB2By: Adam Gretz

Back in 2008 there was a quite a bit of buzz surrounding Fabian Brunnstrom and his play in Sweden, as a number of NHL teams were in the running to sign him as an unrestricted free agent.

The Detroit Red Wings, a team that covers Sweden as well as or better than any other team in the NHL, were considered one of the favorites to land the undrafted winger who drew comparisons to Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson. In the end, Brunnstrom signed with the Dallas Stars and the Red Wings came away with Ville Leino, who went on to find success with the Philadelphia Flyers

Here we are in 2011 and Brunnstrom, who was in Red Wings camp on a pro tryout contract, has signed a one-year, two-way deal with Detroit that will reportedly pay him $600,000 if he plays in the NHL and $105,000 if he plays in the AHL according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

In his two-year stay with the Stars Brunnstrom never lived up to the hype that followed him during that free agency pursuit in 2008, despite recording a hat trick in a 6-4 win against the Nashville Predators in his NHL debut, and then added a fourth goal two games later. It was pretty much downhill after that fast start and he managed to score just 15 goals over his next 96 games in the NHL.

He spent last season in the AHL with the Texas Stars and Toronto Marlies, scoring 15 goals in 72 games.

There's not much of a risk here for the Red Wings, and he had a strong preseason scoring three goals in six games, including a two-goal effort in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Also encouraging is that Detroit has had a great deal of success in recent years taking on talented reclamation projects like this and coming away with productive players. Daniel Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson, for example, were players that bounced around several different teams in the NHL for a few years, struggling to find their niche, before landing with the Red Wings during the 2005-06 season. Both players eventually become useful cogs to a Stanley Cup winning machine.

Samuelsson turned his success in Detroit into a nice contract with the Vancouver Canucks, while Cleary was one of Red Wings' leading goal-scorers last season, finishing second on the team with 26 goals despite missing 14 games.

It's not a given that Detroit will have similar success with Brunnstrom, but if there's a front office and coaching staff in the NHL capable of making it happen, this could be it.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 9:09 am
Edited on: October 3, 2011 9:10 am
 

Daily Skate: Brouwer gets a look on top line

By: Adam Gretz

BROUWER EXPECTED TO BE CAPS' TOP LINE RIGHT WING It appears that Troy Brouwer is going to open the regular season for the Washington Capitals as their top line right wing, according to coach Bruce Boudreau. Said Boudreau, via Stephen Wyno of the Washington Times, “He's a physical presence. He hits, he forechecks well. He can make the play when he has time.” The Capitals acquired Brouwer on draft day in exchange for their first-round pick. In 79 games last season he scored 17 goals to go with 19 assists.

JULIEN: VERBAL ON-ICE TAUNTS CROSSING THE LINE We've had a couple of taunting incidents in the NHL over the past week, including fan-on-player and player-on-player. Bruins head coach Claude Julien is one person in the NHL that thinks some of the trash-talking is crossing the line. Here's what he had to say on the subject via Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com:
“Whether that's been like that decades ago, I'm not quite sure. People are going after divorces or calling people certain names that I don't even want to allude to here,” said Julien. “But there is a fine line I think that has to exist. There's gamesmanship and then there's crossing the line. I think more and more, players today are going further than they used to so.

“You'd hope that it would be policed by [the players] and by having a little bit more respect for each other. They are part of a player's association, they should all be part of a group and there should be at least that kind of respect that exists. Some people are better at refraining themselves than others. You always have those other kind of guys whether the league needs to step into it . . . it's always a hard thing to prove. You know he said, she said and whatever. It's not an easy thing to tackle.”
COACH ALFREDSSON Daniel Alfredsson has been the best player for the Senators franchise since it entered the NHL back in 1993, and he's starting to get closer to the end of his career. He's starting to look forward to his post-playing days and one of the idea's that's at the top of his list is being a minor hockey coach. He talks about that, as well as being a "hockey dad," with Wayne Scanlan.

DO PRESEASON RECORDS MATTER? I typically fall on the side of "No," but Adrian Dater of the Denver Post examines whether or not the 1-4 record the Colorado Avalanche put up in the preseason means anything, and concludes that for this young Avalanche team, coming off a 29th place finish, it matters more than it would for, say, the Avs glory day teams.

NYQUIST SCORES TWO Gustav Nyquist scored a pair of goals for the Detroit Red Wings in their final preseason game on Sunday evening, a 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and his second goal, a power play tally in the second period, came on this nice give-and-go one-timer with Johan Franzen.



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Posted on: September 29, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 4:27 pm
 

Northeast Division Preview: Champ B's still tops

By Brian Stubits

For the first time since the 1993-94 season began, the reigning champion resides in the Northeast Division after the Bruins ended their Cup drought with a thrilling run through the postseason. The even better news for Boston (but not so awesome for the rest of the division) is that the Bruins are back almost completely intact.

No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings in 1997 and 98. Only two other teams have made it back to the Finals a year after winning in that time, the Stars in 1999 then 2000 and once again the Red Wings (2008, 09). There's a reason for it, the fabled championship hangover.

But in hockey, I think it plays a bigger part than any other sport. The offseason is as short as it gets, the playoffs as long and grueling as any of the major sports. The Bruins lifted the Cup in the middle of June and reported back to camp in early September. All the while they were enjoying a whirlwind of a summer that included plenty of partying and celebrating a title. The Blackhawks admittedly struggled with it last season (although the roster being ripped apart didn't help matters). If only getting rid of it were as easy as taking a couple Tylenol and drinking Vitamin Water.

If they do look sluggish and lethargic to start the season then the Buffalo Sabres will be ready to pounce on the opportunity. They are hockey hungry in Buffalo these days with hope their Sabres can become power players in the East. As for the other three in the division, the East's Canadian coalition? Well they will all be hoping to resurrect their glory days.

You can't exactly count out the Canadiens and Maple Leafs from the division crown, but this likely is a two-horse race in the Northeast.

Now we'll just have to wait and see how the Bruins respondin their quest for another Cup.

Northeast Division (predicted order of finish)

Boston Bruins: Why mess with a good thing? That's an easy philosphy to live by when you are coming off of claiming the Stanley Cup. Really, the only new additions they have to work into the fold are Benoit Pouliot as a bottom-six forward and Joe Corvo on the blue line. With the solid support all around them of a close-knit group, they should be able to seamlessly slide in and fill the voids left by Tomas Kaberle, Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder, the only pieces to the championship puzzle missing.

One thing I'm not sure many people realize, but this team is very young in addition to being super talented. There are still five players just among the forwards who will be restricted free agents when their contracts run out. The defense is a bit more grizzled, however, and that's where a good chunk of the leadership comes from, of course including captain Zdeno Chara.

There might be a slight sense of urgency for the B's to repeat as champs as they will have a lot of work to do to keep the team together as 10 of their regulars don't have contracts beyond next season. But GM Peter Chiarelli seems to be preparing for that well, saving the B's cap space to maneuver.

Strengths: What's not to like? They are very balanced as 10 players had more than 40 points a season ago, although two of them have departed (Kaberle and Ryder). Defensively they have plenty of veteran presence and have been a very good unit under Claude Julien. Plus, you know, they have that fella named Chara.

Oh, and how can we make it this far without discussing the team's best player, Tim Thomas? He was simply superb last season and through the playoffs, posting the highest single-season save percentage in league history. It's not as if his backup is chopped liver, either, as Tuukka Rask will be expected to shoulder more of the load for the 38-year-old Thomas this year.

Weaknesses: Despite all of their success when five-on-five, Boston's special teams weren't up to snuff. Without much change in personnel, they are going to have to find a way from within to improve the 20th-ranked power play and 18th-best penalty kill units. The power play was a growing concern in the playoffs, which included an 0-for-21 streak in the opening round win over the Canadiens. They tried all sorts of remedies to fix it, including parking Chara in front of the net, but they found their groove late in the playoffs when Chara and his booming shot returned to the point. Their hope is that success will roll over.

After that, we're just getting picky here. There just aren't too many holes from a team that ranked in the top five both offensively and defensively last season and was the NHL's top plus/minus team. They will have the talk of a championship hangover looming over them for much of the season and they will have the proverbial target on their backs as the champs. Those are hurdles that will be new.

Buffalo Sabres: I'm not sure what fans in Buffalo are more excited about right now: the Bills' 3-0 start or the first full season under Terry Pegula? The Sabres' biggest (and richest) fan ushers in a new era that the fans are still trying to get used to, in a good way: Buffalo is a big spender now. Pegula will make sure of that as he is willing to put his money where his mouth is. And his mouth has expressed some awfully high expectations ... multiple championships.

On that note, the Sabres were active in the offseason, most notably signing Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino to augment the core group that Buffalo has built. But possibly the biggest acquisition they made was the less-heralded of them all, and that was bringing in Robyn Regehr. The stout defenseman should prove to be a great addition as he brings a lot of toughness and all-around defense. Not to mention he will serve as a good influence for assumed partner Tyler Myers, who is in line for a nice bounceback season with more talent with him on defense.

It almost feels like an acquisition, but the return of Derek Roy will be a big boost, too. The front-line center missed the second half of last season due to a quad injury.

Welcome to Pegulaville. Buffalo still can hardly believe it.

Strengths: There is obviously a strong leader, for one. That's a very nice asset to have an owner so willing to win. But beyond him, there's a reason why Buffalo has moved into the conversation to crack the home-ice equation in the East, the new faces likely will make a very good group even better. In particular, the addition of Ehrhoff to the league's ninth-ranked power-play unit will make the special-teams unit a real asset for the Sabres.

Like their division rivals in Boston, as talented as they are all over the ice, their best player probably sits in the blue paint all game long. Ryan Miller didn't have the greatest of seasons last year for Buffalo, but that tends to happen when you come off a Vezina-winning season ... there's only one direction to go. He's still one of the absolute best in the game.

Oh, and the slug logo is gone, wiped away for good. That's positive for everybody.

Weaknesses: The cap situation is a bit troubling. With Pegula's desire to spend, the Sabres actually exceeded the salary cap over the summer, so they will have to be extra diligent with how they manage the roster. Unfortunately, it doesn't leave them much room to try and make any improvements midseason if need be.

Overall, it's not a roster with many holes in it whatsoever. It will just come down to how talented the team proves to be as there are multiple players capable of 50-plus point seasons.

Montreal Canadiens: Last season, without Max Pacioretty or Andrei Markov, the Canadiens captured the six seed in the East and took the eventual champions to the brink. I'm sure this team, almost al of it remains in town, is still stewing over blowing a 2-game lead to its bitter rival in Boston.

I definitely like the signing of Erik Cole in July, he is a solid (and physical) forward who could prove to be one of the bigger acquisitions of the summer for any team. He adds to a good, but not great group of forwards. They are capable, but need to be better than 23rd-best in the league like a season ago.

Where the success of this team will likely hinge is on the blue line. They have a couple of excellent young talents in P.K. Subban and Markov and some solid players behind them like Josh Gorges and Hal Gill.

A few steps toward a return to form for Scott Gomez (just seven goals last season) wouldn't hurt eiher.

Strenghts: Special teams. Under Jacques Martin, the Habs have been good in both departments of special teams, ranking seventh in both phases a season ago. If Markov remains healthy, the power play remains lethal as Subban and him both are excellent with the man up.

It's pretty Wild the goaltending this division features. Like both teams above them here, the Habs have an oustanding man living in the crease. It took fans a while in Montreal, but they finally warmed up to Carey Price, who finally lived up to his expectations last season. Playing a 72-game work load, Price posted a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage. The trick will be doing it again, but the safe bet is that he turned a corner and an encore shouldn't be a problem.

Weaknesses: Let's be honest, having to rely on Gomez to anchor a top-six line after a 37-point season doesn't have overwhelming talent. It showed in their scoring totals from last season when they averaged 2.60 goals per game. Cole will help as he not only brings a power game (among the league leaders in hits for forwards) but he can score. They would love to see him at least match his 26 goals from a season ago, that would have been good for second on the team.

A major concern all season will rest on the blue line and the depth there. Adding Chris Campoli after camp began was a nice addition to help with the concern, but they still can't really afford for injuries to set in, particularly for Markov. They just invested in him with a rich contract this offseason, so they are counting on him returning at full strength from the ACL tear and remaining that way.

Toronto Maple Leafs: How much longer will the fans in Toronto put up with a team that can't make the playoffs? The postseason drought stretches back to the lockout as the Leafs have been on the outside each season since. The only other team in the same boat is Florida, and let's just say the fans in Toronto take their hockey a touch more seriously than those in the Sunshine State. There's hope that this could be the season where they break through and return to playoff hockey, but that's a tall order for this group still.

Over the summer, GM Brian Burke really coveted center Brad Richards, but his staff was unable to convince the top free agent to head to Toronto. So as a backup plan he signed Tim Connolly from Buffalo to anchor the team's top line. If healthy, a very big if, Connolly can prove to be a good addition, the Leafs had to get deeper at center. Also, I really liked the quiet addition of John-Michael Liles to the defense.

But not much else will matter if the goaltending situation isn't solved. That has been the achilles heel for years in Toronto, but they think -- or hope -- the answer lies in James Reimer in his first full season in the NHL.

Strengths: As you'd expect for a team built by Burke, they have become a physical bunch in Toronto. The team captain, Dion Phaneuf, is one of the toughest hitters in the league. But there is obviously a danger of that being a weakness if the team is getting sent to the sin bin (or being Shanabanned with the new emphasis on safety) too often.

The second line is probably good enough to be Toronto's No. 1 group. The combination of Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin placed second, third and fourth in the team scoring, respectively. Each had at least 21 goals.

Weaknesses: The problem is, the skill on the team doesn't go much deeper. Only six players on the team last year reached double digits in scoring. The fact is the Leafs have two lines that can hold up with most in the league, but the third and fourth lines are where they feel the drop.

The center position remains a concern. Sure, Connolly was brought in to help that and same with Matthew Lombardi, but you can't be sure what you are getting from either guy from a health standpoint. As mentioned, Connolly has a history of injury issues. He has only played more than 70 games once (2009-10) since the 2002-03 season. With Lombardi, he's coming off a concussion that cost him all but two games last season. If either or both goes down, then Toronto is right back to being razor thin down the middle.

Ottawa Senators: This is odd territory for the folks in Ottawa. Never in the franchise's history have they had to actually rebuild. Since originally building the team in the early 90s, the team had a long, successful run that included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006-07. A couple of the members from the old guard are still around -- Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, but the majority of the team is in place to win in the future, not necessarily now.

Expect to see a lot of the kids getting burn this season. It appears as though the team's top draft pick this summer, Sweedish center Mika Zibanejad, is going to make the team out of camp. Another coveted prospect, Jared Cowen, is also making a bid for the roster and join David Rundblad among the defensive corps. Nikita Filatov, who hadn't lived up to his perceived potential in Columbus, will also be given a shot to show what he can do. If he fits in and focuses on his game, his addition could prove to be a steal for Ottawa.

While new coach Paul MacLean and GM Bryan Murray are saying all the rights things about this team being competitive this season, it will serve as a good opportunity to get a glimpse of the future.

Strenghts: They didn't score much at all or play defense particularly well, but they were alright on special teams, particularly on the penalty kill, which ranked ninth in the league. Sergei Gonchar can help keep that ball rolling. That will qualify as a positive here.

We'll also throw goaltender Craig Anderson into the category. He wasn't spectacular last season split between Colorado and Ottawa, but he's shown before what he is capable of when he starred for the Avalanche two seasons ago. And his stint with the Sens was encouraging as he was 11-5-1 with his new team.

It speaks well for what is in the system that the team's AHL affiliate in Binghamton won the Calder Cup.

Weaknesses: This says a lot: No player that participated in more than 30 games for the Senators had a plus-rating last season. Chris Phillips was the lowest of them all at minus-35.

This team struggled mightily to score last season and that is unlikely to get easier this time around. Right now there just isn't a heck of a lot of talent to talk about. Spezza was the only player to top the 20-goal mark last year and he barely did so with 21.

The youth is a weakness for now as it will be error prone and show it is green, but the hope is that it turns into a strength down the line.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 6:25 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 8:38 pm
 

Nikita Filatov as a top-6 forward in Ottawa

FilatovBy: Adam Gretz

When the Ottawa Senators traded for Nikita Filatov earlier this summer it was a nice gamble by an offensively starved team. They were buying low on a gifted young player that's yet to find his role in the NHL. For a rebuilding team, that's not really a surprising move. Actually, it's the type of move a rebuilding team should always be looking to make.

What did turn out to be a surprise was the word from Dmitry Chesnokov on Wednesday that Filatov claims he was promised (that's the key word) top-six ice-time, as well as power play time, for the Senators this upcoming season by general manager Bryan Murray. Assuming that's how it went down between Filatov and Murray, that seems, on the surface anyway, to be a bit extreme for a player that has managed to score just six goals In 44 career games, and hasn't put one in the net at the NHL level since Nov. 7, 2009.

Four of his six career goals came during his eight-game debut during the 2008-09 season, with only two coming over the following 36 games. Over the past three years he's also spent time in Russia and the AHL, where he scored nine goals in 36 games with the Springfield Falcons this past season.

Once you dig a little deeper, I don't think it's as crazy as it initially sounds for two reasons.

First, Filatov is probably one of the last players you want skating on your third or fourth lines, whether you're a rebuilding team or a stanley cup contender, because he's simply not that type of player, defensively or physically. If he's going to play in the NHL and become a useful player, it's going to be as a first or second line player.

The other reason: the Senators should be absolutely desperate for anything that resembles offense or the potential to create offense. While Filatov hasn't exactly shown he can be a consistent scoring threat at the highest level of competition, he at least possesses the type of skill and talent that could eventually lead to him becoming that sort of player. The type of player he was supposed to become after the Columbus Blue Jackets selected him with the 6th overall pick in 2008.

The Senators were 29th in the NHL in goals scored last season with just 192, finishing ahead of only the New Jersey Devils. Only one player on the roster, Jason Spezza, managed to score more than 20 goals, while Milan Michalek was the only other player to score at least 15. This team needs somebody that can score.

The return of a healthy Daniel Alfredsson should help (he appeared in just 54 games last season due to a back injury) but there's not much else coming in as far as potential difference-makers. Filatov may be a huge disappointment to this point in his career, but he's still only 21 years old and doesn't turn 22 until May, and at least has the potential to make some sort of an impact.  For a team like the Senators it's definitely a gamble worth taking.

They're probably not going to compete for a playoff spot anyway, and if he can find a way to blossom in Ottawa the way he never did in Columbus they get a useful player for almost nothing. And if continues to play like the Nikita Filatov that played his way out of Columbus? Well, it only cost you a third-round pick to take the chance, and there's nothing forcing you to keep playing him in the lineup or keep him on the NHL roster.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:47 pm
 

Sens celebrate '20-year' anniversary, look ahead

By Brian Stubits

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the rebirth of the Ottawa Senators franchise (19th season thanks to the lockout). Is there another team that has ever had such a rich history to honor in a "20-year" celebration? Methinks not.

That's because the Sens aren't celebrating just the last 20 years. No, they are also basking in the glow of the original Senators, the team that played from 1883 to 1954 and racked up 11 Stanley Cups stretching through the Silver Seven era to the official adoption of the Senators nickname. Clearly they are taking some liberties here, but that's OK.

After all, it's a rich history indeed. And it hasn't been too bad since the team was reborn in 1992-93 either. Take into consideration that right now the Sens are in the clichéd rebuilding mode. This is the first time they have truly had to "rebuild." The only other time the franchise went through this tough a stretch was when it was just starting out. An awful, awful stretch. But that was just the building phase. Now they rebuild.

It isn't something they are used to in Ottawa, suffering through growing pains. That's what makes this celebration season so perfect for timing. It's going to help (only very slightly) ease the pain of a struggling team. How can videos like this not help?

The buzz word is heritage. The team will wear retro jerseys (not historic, just retro ... this sweater was never worn) for select games this season (seen at the top) and everything will likely culminate in the All-Star Game, hosted by Ottawa.

While that's all well and good, all of the celebration, it's not what the big fans will truly be looking for. They want to see the future of hockey in the city, not the past. The future that seems pretty bright.

Last season's Calder Cup champions, the Binghamton Senators, are a large source of the inspiration. You can expect to see a few of those players being slated into the big Senators lineup this season like Zack Smith and Erik Condra. Then you have prospects like Mark Stone, who was turning heads at Canada's junior national team tryouts, and Mika Zibanejad, who I personally love as a prospect and who is a candidate to jump right to the NHL.

Count Sens veteran Jason Spezza among the excited.

"It doesn't matter if a lot of people don't know who these guys are. They have lots of time to make names for themselves," Spezza told OttawaSenators.com. "We can be a good team and compete with some of the best teams. And then for them to go and win [the Calder Cup] ... the chemistry that they'll get there, hopefully it'll carry over to our room and we can make it a really cohesive team. I think that'll be the biggest thing, just the camaraderie and the chemistry. They've won together and [they've shown] they know how to win together."

So the future is exciting. There is something to wait for in Ottawa. But for now, the team will still be led by the veterans like Spezza and career Senator Daniel Alfredsson, who is past his prime at this point but still effective when healthy. Those two helped give the modern-day Senators their best season in 2006-07 when they anchored the top line with Dany Heatley and took Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Finals.

But it's somewhat astonishing the Senators had the playoff run they did with all the troubles the franchise had. They made the playoffs 11 seasons in a row and 12 of 13, but all the while they went through trade demands (Heatley), miserable contracts (Alex Daigle) and terrible slips (letting Zdeno Chara go). Not to mention a bankruptcy filing. That all came after the franchise's first season with a 10-70-4 record.

While they embark on a season honoring the heritage of Ottawa hockey, the birthplace of the Cup as they say, the Senators usher in a new era. Welcome rookie head coach Paul MacLean, who comes over from Detroit to replace the fired Cory Clouston (Alexei Kovalev's BFF).

"If I can come in and have a good, strong camp, it'll set the tone for a lot of guys and show that we can compete for a playoff spot," Spezza said. "And once you get into the playoffs, you never know what can happen. So I'm looking forward to the challenge of having a young team and having to be good every night."

Which the Senators likely won't be. That makes the timing of this celebration seem so perfect. It gives the Senators some positive pub (but not all fans like it) while they grow.

Photo: Icethetics

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com