With realignment an eventuality now, it's time that we start focusing on new rivalries-to-be and old rivalries-to-be-renewed. We're reaching out to the fans who know the teams best to get to know more about them and what to expect.
The Team: Ottawa Senators
The Blog: Silver Seven
The Head-to-Head Record (W-L-T): 14-4-5
The Last Meeting: October 7, 2011 @DET (5-3 W)
The Brief History: Staying brief, the Wings and Senators have probably less history with the current iteration of the Sens than the Wings have with the Panthers. However, if you take the original Sens franchise into consideration, these two teams have a history dating back to 1926. The Sens, like the Panthers have made a Cup Finals appearance since the Wings' playoff streak started, and again, JUST like the Panthers, they were the team I was rooting for in that Finals series and they let me down.
The most-notable person on the Ottawa bench is former Red Wings' assistant coach Paul MacLean, who was part of the powerful coaching trio that helped Detroit win the cup in 2008. MacLean left for Ottawa in 2011 and has posted a winning record with his new squad, maybe even some Jack Adams consideration.
On January 20th, 2002, Steve Yzerman notched his 1,000th career assist on an overtime game-winning goal by Mathieu Schneider against the Senators.
Getting to know you: Continuing our series on our new Division rivals, we've got Peter Raaymakers from Silver Seven to introduce us to the Senators and their fans. We asked the same five questions which should help acquaint us with the group. Also, if we're going to be conversing with them, we might want to take heed of their community guidelines. They're short guidelines, but poignant.
1. First off, tell us the most important things we need to know about your team.
In the short term, the most important thing to realize is that the Senators are currently in the midst of a three-year rebuild--this year is expected to mark the second year, with 2013-14 the final one before... ummm... I guess we're "re-built" and winning Stanley Cups? We'll see. But right now Senators management are looking to the future, which is why our roster is filled with so many young players. This will be the same next year, as well.
2. Who on your team are we going to hate the most?
You're probably going to hate Chris Neil the most. Everyone seems to. Even some Sens fans. But eventually you might start to dislike Zack Smith, who's a more well-rounded heir apparent to Neil.
3. Why should the Wings fear you?
In two words, Erik Karlsson. In four words, Jason Spezza Erik Karlsson. The Senators are an offensively dynamic team built on speed, and it starts with Karlsson and continues with Spezza. There are other good players on the roster, and prospects on the way, but this is still a Spezza-Karlsson show. You'll also see quickly that your old friend Paul MacLean is very deserving of this head coaching gig he's got; he's been a Godsend for the Sens.
4. What do you fear most about the Wings?
I'll be completely honest with you: Not much. Obviously Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are tremendous players and will make the Wings a team not to be trifled with, but it seems like the Red Wings' time as an elite team is coming to an end. Ottawa's recently ended and the team was able to rebuild (or, as some prefer to say, 're-tool') quickly, and Detroit's got competent management who are capable of doing the same. But the prospect of being in the same division as Detroit isn't nearly as scary today as it was five years ago.
5. What about the rest of our new division will our fanbases have no problem agreeing on?
Montreal is the worst. Toronto is the worst. Buffalo is the worst. Boston is the worst. They're all the worst, independently and as a group. You'll have no problem building a serious dislike for those teams and their fanbases. Mutual hatred of all of those teams as well as a fairly innocent history might allow the Wings and Sens to get along fairly well, but it doesn't take much to ignite a rivalry.