He's not exactly a two-sport star, but pro golfer Brad Fritsch is a unique athlete. The Ottawa native and longtime Senators fan enjoyed his first PGA Tour top-10 finish in January and has established himself as a unique figure on the tour.
That's due in large part to an endorsement deal he has with the Senators, whose logo is emblazoned on Fritsch's shirt and golf bag. It's a unique partnership that has earned the 35-year-old some attention on the links.
"I hear people yelling, 'Go Sens,' pretty often when I'm teeing off. I'm not really sure what to do in that situation. It's pretty funny," Fritsch told NHL.com. "Every so often, I'll hear someone say, 'What about the Red Wings? Come on.'"
PGA golfer Brad Fritsch drops the puck before a game between the Senators and the New York Rangers on Feb. 21. (Andre Ringuette/NHLI)
The promotional partnership isn't unprecedented. Last year, Nationwide Tour golfer Adam Hadwin entered into a similar agreement with the Vancouver Canucks. But Fritsch's recent PGA Tour success has made him a high-profile member of Senators nation. Fritsch even dropped the ceremonial puck on Feb. 21 prior to their game against the New York Rangers.
"It's great that we're supporting a guy like that. It's the same kind of story that many players in the NHL have," Senators vice president of marketing Jeff Kyle told NHL.com. "In terms of persevering, whether it's in the American Hockey League or whatever. Sticking with it and finally getting a chance. We just felt his story aligned with what happens in hockey a lot. You've got to persevere and stick with it and believe in your dream to get there."
Fritsch, who competed on the Web.com Tour before finally earning his big break in the PGA, doesn't shy away from that comparison. If anything, he sees it as an apt description for both himself and his beloved Senators, who have overcome countless injuries and proven a worthy adversary in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins.
"They have the whole 'pesky Sens' thing going. That's kind of the moniker," Fritsch said. "I guess if you describe my career, you could describe it as pesky. I just kind of hang around."
That never-say-die attitude has served Ottawa well this season. The Senators overcame major injuries to star players Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Craig Anderson to finish seventh in the Eastern Conference before dispatching the second-seeded Montreal Canadiens in five games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Fritsch was particularly proud of their play in Game 3 against the Penguins, when Daniel Alfredsson tied the contest with 29 seconds remaining in regulation before Colin Greening won the game in overtime to give the Senators new life before Game 4 Wednesday night in Ottawa.
"That could be a turning point that they need," Fritsch said. "I think with the makeup of the Penguins defense, anything is possible. It's a tall task, they have to win four out of five, they won the first one. I think anything is possible. I don't think they're afraid. That's the most important part."