The first incarnation of the Ottawa Senators were one of the founding members of the NHL during its early years, winning 11 Stanley Cups. Once the NHL began to expand south to the United States, the Senators had trouble making money and were forced to sell the team to St. Louis, becoming the Eagles. After one year in St. Louis, the team folded.
The Senators rejoined the NHL in 1992, along with the Tampa Bay Lightning, as part of NHL expansion. The team finished last three out of its first four seasons, and was able to secure several high draft picks. They chose Alexandre Daigle in 1993, Radek Bonk in 1994, Bryan Berard in 1995, Chris Phillips in 1996 and Marian Hossa in 1997. All of these players, with the exception of Daigle, became solid NHL players.
The team hired Jacques Martin in 1996 and he imposed a defense-first philosophy that enabled the Senators to reach the playoffs every season from 1997-2008. The regular season success didn’t translate into the postseason until later, however.
The 2005-06 season was the same story for the Senators. They came out of the gate fast, winning 19 out of their first 22 games, and finishing with 52 wins and 113 points. The line of Daniel Aflredsson, Jason Spezza and Danny Heatley lead the offensive charge. Goaltender Dominik Hasek was injured during the 2006 Olympics, and the team turned to rookie goalie Ray Emery. Without Hasek, the Senators fell in the second round of the playoffs to the Buffalo Sabres.
The following season was the best in franchise history. The Senators reached the Stanley Cup Final and became the first Ottawa team to play for the Cup since 1927. They had the support of the whole city, but the Senators lost to the Anaheim Ducks in six games, thanks in large part to the goaltending of Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
With the veteran leadership of Alfredsson, the offensive talent of Spezza and the recent acquisition of Sergei Gonchar, the Senators might have the makeup they need to make another run to the Stanley Cup Final.