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Senators' MacArthur excited for Heritage Classic

by Sean Farrell

OTTAWA - Clarke MacArthur is really looking forward to finally playing his first NHL outdoor game with the Ottawa Senators.

Forgive him, though, if he doesn't bank on it until he actually sets his skates on the ice Mar. 2 at BC Place, when the Vancouver Canucks play host to Ottawa in the 2014 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic.

MacArthur has come too close in the past only to see his hopes dashed, not once, but twice.

The Senators left wing holds former Buffalo Sabres teammate Maxim Afinogenov accountable for his first missed opportunity to play outdoors in 2008, when Buffalo welcomed the Pittsburgh Penguins to Ralph Wilson Stadium in the inaugural Winter Classic.

"Yeah, I got sent down the day before that game, and called up the day after that game," MacArthur said Thursday after the Senators unveiled their 2014 Heritage Classic uniforms. "Afinogenov had like a groin injury, or a 'so-called' groin injury, so he ended up playing in that game, and then I came back the next game."

Instead of soaking in the one-of-a-kind atmosphere in person, MacArthur watched the game on TV as Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal on Ryan Miller in a shootout.

"I'm like, 'Wow, what a cool experience,'" MacArthur said. "And it started snowing, and it was just, for the guys that were in that game, you take that picture and the whole ordeal, it was pretty neat.

"Yeah, I would have loved to have been there, even just to be up to do the warmups and be a part of the whole thing would have been nice, but that wasn't the way it went down, so hopefully this is the one."

MacArthur was looking forward to a second chance to play outdoors last year as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but their Winter Classic matchup against the Detroit Red Wings was postponed until this season.

Though the lockout scuttled that opportunity, MacArthur is looking forward to watching his former teammates take on the Red Wings at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., on New Year's Day.

"That game is going to be unbelievable," MacArthur said. "With the history between those teams and playing where they're playing, that's going to be just a great outing for all the fans going to that one, for sure."

The Senators introduced their 2014 Heritage Classic uniform Thursday with Vancouver in town.

The Canucks will wear the Vancouver Millionaires uniforms they introduced last season to commemorate the city's only Stanley Cup champions to date.

That was in 1915, when it took the original Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey Association five days to travel by train across Canada to compete for the Stanley Cup in Vancouver. The Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association defeated Ottawa in three straight games.

Some 99 years on, the modern Senators, who were founded in 1992, will face off against the Canucks, who joined the NHL in 1970.

MacArthru enjoys the nod to the past, and he particularly likes the League's decision to increase the number of outdoor games this season to six, including the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

"I like the matchup," MacArthur said. "It's a great thing for our League. For the kids watching, how cool is it to see your favorite player with a winter hat on in warmups and seeing him go out and play a game of pond hockey. It's a great idea and I like how they've expanded it."

And MacArthur is hardly alone in looking forward to playing in the 2014 Heritage Classic.

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo won an Olympic gold medal playing for Canada at home in front of his fans and fellow countrymen in Vancouver in 2010. Four years later, he's excited about the prospect of playing his first outdoor game.

"It's going to be really fun," Luongo said. "I've always wanted to play in one of those, so I'm really thankful that I get the opportunity this year, and I'm looking forward to it."

But burned twice before, MacArthur was cautious about getting too excited about the big game, just over three months away.

"It's a little early yet," MacArthur said. "Obviously guys are going to be excited when the day comes, when we go to Vancouver and get things rolling, and all the activities and stuff that's going to happen there. It's going to be one of those memories that guys will never forget."

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