|Jason Spezza says even fans in Toronto have jumped on board the Ottawa Senators bandwagon during the playoffs. Photo: A. Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
As the only Canadian team remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Ottawa Senators are focused on returning the trophy back to Canada. After watching the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames gain tremendous momentum during their runs as the Stanley Cup finalists in 2006 and 2004, respectively, Ottawa hopes to get the same support.
"I know in years past you always cheer for that Canadian team that's still playing," Senators forward Chris Kelly says. "Hopefully, we can get some more fans going our way. I think everyone in Canada wants to see a Canadian team do well."
Senators centre Jason Spezza says even people from Toronto, home of the Senators' biggest rival, the Maple Leafs, are jumping on the bandwagon.
"I talked to a couple of buddies back home (Mississauga, Ont.) and they said there's a few more Ottawa fans coming around as the days go on. In Toronto it's tough; they bleed the blue and white usually."
With 97 playoff games under his belt, Senators head coach Bryan Murray leads all remaining coaches in that category. He says it's an exciting feeling to be playing hockey in the NHL at this time of year, especially so close to his hometown of Shawville, Que.
"There's no question the interest in this country, in particular in this city, is the reason we're in the business. We like the attention and we'd like to be a winner. We would like to go a long way in the playoffs, and if we happen to be representing the country, that's a nice thing."
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says the support is something his team can feed off of. He's impressed with how the fans in Ottawa have embraced the team.
"When you're out and about in town, there are a lot of people who are following the series that wish you luck. It's a great feeling. Everybody's on board and everybody is really cheering for you. It's an electric feeling. It does help us as players."