The shortest off-season in Ottawa Senators history officially reached its end Thursday.
With a morning filled with medical and fitness testing, the Senators got started down the road they hope will carry them to the ultimate goal that just eluded their grasp in 2006-07 – the first Stanley Cup in modern franchise history.
“We’re all really excited. It’s hard to believe we’re back here again,” Senators centre Mike Fisher said during the day’s activities at Scotiabank Place. “We’ve got a lot to prove this year and the expectations are really high, but we’re looking forward to it.
“We’ve got a couple of new guys and we lost a few guys, but we’re going to be good.”
Last season provided the players and the Sens Army with their most thrilling playoff run yet. The Senators eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres in succession to capture the Eastern Conference crown, but their Cup dreams were dashed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The latter result is one the returning players are determined to reverse in the season ahead.
“We’re still a young team,” said centre Jason Spezza
. “We got really close and made some good strides (last season), and we want to get back there. The closer you get, the hungrier and hungrier you get for it, and that’s how we feel.”
|Senators head coach John Paddock talks about the roster for training camp. |
New head coach John Paddock is aware, however, that there’s a long road to travel yet before the current team can focus on the Stanley Cup.
“There’s 30 teams tied for first place right now. Everybody’s in the same boat,” he said. “But we expect to draw on our experience from last year, the success we had, and come back with as much hunger.
“You’re not going to start playing in June right away, you’re not going to win the Cup in October. It’s a long start to prepare for that kind of thing, and that’s obviously this organization’s goal.”
General manager Bryan Murray, who guided the team on its long post-season run of a year ago, said it’s a matter of “just continuing to grow, continuing to get better.”
“We want them to have a good training camp, get started and be ready to go in Toronto (on Oct. 3, the regular-season opener).”
After taking part in the annual Bell/Sens Charity Golf Classic at The Marshes Golf Club on Friday, the Senators hit the ice for the first time in training camp on Saturday with morning and afternoon sessions slated for the Bell Sensplex.