OTTAWA, Ontario--When Patrick Wiercioch arrived in Ottawa with his Colorado Avalanche teammates late Tuesday night, the memories of playing in Canada's capital city came flooding back.
It was also a bit strange for the defenseman to be heading to the team's hotel instead of his house.
"Even when we landed in Ottawa, it's different hopping on a bus and not jumping in your car and driving home," Wiercioch said. "A lot of good memories. A lot of good people in this organization here. A lot of great fans. It is definitely a place that every time I come back to it will hold a special place."
Wiercioch, 26, began his career with the Ottawa Senators after being drafted 42nd overall in 2008 and signed with the club following his second season at the University of Denver in 2010. He played 211 NHL games over the course of four-plus years in Ottawa before inking a deal with Colorado as a free agent last summer.
The blueliner will face his former club for the first time this evening when the Avs continue their three-game road trip against the Sens at Canadian Tire Centre. He's already got some of the nerves out of the way as the Avalanche practiced at the arena on Wednesday afternoon.
"Just even being on the opposite bench, coming into the visitor locker room. I'm excited to play," Wiercioch said. "It's just another game, but it's fun to play against that team that you started in the NHL with."
He made his league debut on March 22, 2011 and scored his first goal on March 3, 2013, but his favorite memory with the club was its run to finish the 2014-15 campaign. Ottawa went 23-4-4 in its final 31 regular season games that year, earning a playoff berth against the rival Montreal Canadiens.
"It is hard not to put that run that we had (as the top memory), being so far out of the playoffs and just to make it," said the native of Burnaby, British Columbia. "Every game, everyone chipping in. That was probably the most fun part of my time here."
The Senators lost the first-round series 4-2, but that stretch is still something he'll always remember.
"I think coming back from that flight in Philly when we clinched (a playoff spot) or whatnot, just seeing the people lined up at the airport and greeting us when we landed. It was special," Wiercioch said. "It was probably a taste of what teams probably get when they make it all the way to the Cup Final. You get the entire city behind you. I think we all felt that way."
Wiercioch has nothing but good things to say about Ottawa organization and the people he and his wife Kresson met during their time there.
The city will always hold a special place for his family.
"We have so many family friends from our time here that we still stay connected with," Wiercioch said. "There is a lot of amazing programs that we got to be a part of, people that we still talk to, text to this day. The community is great. The fans were awesome for our time here."