Ontario and Quebec may share a river, but spend a little time on both sides of the bridge and you’ll see that Gatineau and Ottawa are almost nothing alike. From the age of majority and time the last call bell rings to the official language(s), ability to turn right on red lights and loyalties to their provincial NHL franchises, there are some major differences between the 613 and the 819. One might just be the free-wheeling, dice-rolling, slot-pulling prevalence of casinos in Quebec, like the one in Lac Lemy, just a stone’s throw from the Parliament Buildings across the river in Gatineau. That might change if Sens owner Eugene Melnyk has anything to say about it, having submitted a proposal for a Kanata casino to provide a few more post-game entertainment options for fans pouring out of the Canadian Tire Centre while they wait for the traffic to die down on the 417.
The best way to get to know your opponent is to find out how he lives. Since we weren’t prepared to get too close for comfort, we settled for a window into how the Sens eat. A short drive from the Canadian Tire Centre, Big Rig Brew Pub gave us just such an opportunity. Partly-owned by Chris Phillips, the micro-brewery was named in honor of the 15-year Senators defenseman and offers everything from slabs of steak to our personal favorite, “Montreal style” pizzas. We may not be cheering for Phillips on Thursday night, but we’re definitely fans when it comes to the man’s culinary taste.