Shaun Van Allen hadn't been in Newfoundland for almost two decades. So when he was asked to represent the Ottawa Senators' alumni group as part of 2011 Kraft Hockeyville, he didn't think twice.
"This is awesome," said Van Allen, who had two stints in Ottawa (1996-2000, 2002-04) and also played for Edmonton, Anaheim, Dallas and Montreal. "It's been a long time since I've been back in Newfoundland. It was back in '92-93 when I played in the minors (for Cape Breton). There's always support here all the time. There's a lot of enthusiasm. It's a great atmosphere to play hockey."
Van Allen, 44, played in 794 NHL games between 1991 and 2004. He was just making a name for himself as a pro when the Winnipeg Jets left town for Phoenix in 1996. But the Jets are returning to the League this season and will play Van Allen's Sens in the main event of this Kraft Hockeyville experience on Monday night.
"I think any time you can add another Canadian team to the NHL, it's a great experience for Canada," said Van Allen, a Calgary native. "I would say it's the driving force behind hockey and it's great to have another team back."
Van Allen, who spent roughly two hours signing autographs today here in Conception Bay South, was asked if he had a favorite memory during his time with the Senators.
"One of my favorites would be the first time we ever made the playoffs (in 1997)," he said. "Last game of the year, Steve Duchene scored late in the game. That clinched us. We won, 1-0."