OTTAWA - I'll admit it: I was hoping for Ottawa.
As the final week of the regular season approached, there were three options for the Boston Bruins in the first round: the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals, and the Ottawa Senators. I had my fingers crossed. You see, Ottawa was somehow the only NHL city I'd never visited - never for hockey, never for anything else. So, I had one more to cross off the list and I was ready to do it.
Plus, with the two days off between Games 1 and 2, the Bruins and Senators each opted not to skate on Thursday. That gave me some time - and a beautiful spring day - to scout out some of Canada's capital city. I wandered first from my hotel over to Parliament Hill, as instructed by Senators PR chief Brian Morris. The buildings are stunning, and the view ain't bad either.
They're up on a hill - hence that Parliament Hill name - overlooking the Ottawa River, and they're beautiful enough to circle a couple of times. Given the weather, the lawn in front of the Parliament building was crawling with people; kids running around the grass, tourists taking photos, sightseers out for a stroll. I was able to take note, and pictures, of the Centennial Flame that burns on the walkway up to the Parliament building. It was originally intended to be temporary, after being lit to commemorate Canada's centennial, it ended up staying. I'm glad it did.
On my way to Morris' other suggest, Byward Market, I passed the Rideau Canal, and stopped to read up on the history of the Ottawa Locks. The locks over the Canal, which connects Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario, are still functioning to allow boats in and out.
Past the Canal, I found myself at the market, where hundreds of people had stationed themselves on open-air patios, with food in front of them and drinks in hand. I passed dozens of tempting treats, from the BeaverTails that I had been urged to try on Twitter to the Obama Cookies advertised at Le Moulin de Provence. The latter are maple leaf-shaped sugar cookies frosted in red icing with "Canada" written on them in white, some of which President Barack Obama had bought on a trip to Canada in 2009.
They continue to be a popular treat - and certainly a well-advertised one!
But, alas, I wasn't able to sample the Obama Cookies or even the cookies with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's face on them, as it was the Jewish holiday of Passover, when breads and cookies and anything that has leavened is forbidden. So, no BeaverTails, no cookies, no beer on the patios. I would have to keep walking.
The area had a festive atmosphere, with all those people taking in the sunshine, enjoying the early evening weather and, perhaps, the joy of seeing their Senators in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There was certainly enough Ottawa gear around to bolster the latter theory.
I couldn't have thought of a better way to spend my time off before grabbing dinner with a fellow Boston colleague and getting some much-needed rest.
But though this was my first trip to Ottawa, I'm guessing I'll be back - and soon - for Game 5. The good news? By then, Passover will be over and a whole bunch of treats await.