(Left-winger Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes was one of three first-round picks by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He’ll be sharing some thoughts about participating in his first Sens development camp in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of fans we’ve had come out to watch us at the Bell Sensplex so far this week. It’s all new to me and it makes it that much more exciting. I think the players love it just as much as the fans do and it’s great to see all that support. It’s pretty big and when you have the support, teams feed off that. When you’re winning in a city like this, it’s great and it gives you that much more motivation to keep winning, as opposed to a city that doesn’t show that much interest.
I was on the ice with Nikita Filatov yesterday and you could tell, by the number of fans watching us and cheering for us, that hockey is definitely much bigger in a Canadian city in the NHL. You’re not used to that when you come out on the ice, but it’s definitely nice to see. If there’s that many fans out at a little two-person skate, I’m sure at the games, when you’re winning and stuff like that, it becomes that much more exciting in the city. It’s nice to see and it’s fun.
You could say I get a little taste of that in Peterborough, where there’s such a tradition of junior hockey with the Petes. You’re definitely known around the city and it’s much better when you’re winning. I think it’s good to have that atmosphere around your team. For sure, you’re well known and as you get older and as you move up on the team, you have to watch what you do that much more. I can see all of that helping me here in Ottawa someday. That kind of interest makes hockey that much more exciting and you have to be just as good a person off the ice as you are on the ice.
I talked to Nikita quite a bit when we were out on the ice together and he’s a really nice guy. He’s played in the NHL, so he knows what it takes to get there. To be around guys like that can only make you better, so it was a lot of fun to skate with him. He’s such a good player. We were doing a lot of skating and you could tell how good of a skater he is. You definitely can learn a lot just by watching, let alone being on the ice with him.
We’re going to get a chance to meet with some fans tonight after our scrimmage at the Sensplex. I think it’s really important to give back that way. The fans give you most of what you have playing wise, so it’s definitely important to show them that respect factor. I’m a guy that’s always been involved that way and I like to do that kind of thing. I think it’s a lot of fun.