by Todd Anderson
The 2006-07 NHL season didn't finish off quite as they wanted it to, but the Ottawa Senators are proud about their accomplishments. It will be a memorable moment for the franchise when the Eastern Conference championship banner is raised at Scotiabank Place before the puck drops next season.
"I think it was a great ride. We accomplished a lot," general manager John Muckler says of this year's playoff run that ended with a loss to the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup final. "We didn't get the full job done, but it was a great ride for the hockey club and a great ride for the fans.
"I've always said the hunt for the Stanley Cup is the main part but when you get to the end it just stops awful fast. It gives you an empty feeling but there's always next year, and we look forward to the hunt again."
Head coach Bryan Murray agrees the team has a lot to be proud about.
"It's disappointing anytime you lose, but you look at the good parts as well," Murray said during his post-season news conference. "There were lots of good things that happened this year. I think we all recognize that after the way we started this year and where we ended up, it was a heck of a year. I think we achieved a lot. As disappointed as I will be for the next day or two or month or two all you do is look forward to what's coming up ahead."
Senators president and CEO Roy Mlakar says the club's lengthy playoff run has boosted ticket sales for the coming season. People in Hockey Country have really jumped on the Sens bandwagon.
"I think the players and organization really united the city," Mlakar says. "It was good to see. We're well on our way to 12,000 season tickets (for next season) and it's not out of sight to get to 13,500. We'll be above average. That's fantastic news for the franchise."
As the Senators work feverishly through the shortest off-season in team history, Muckler says he expects they will be back among the NHL's elite in 2007-08.
"Our team is young enough and gained a lot of experience. I don't think there's any unknown now on what it takes to win the Stanley Cup," Muckler says. "I think if we get there again next year, we will be better prepared.
"I don't believe there will be too many changes in our hockey club. I believe we have the ability to get better from within. We were a very good hockey club this year and I think we'll be a better hockey club next year. A lot of our young players will be better and even some of our veterans have room for improvement."
Murray says the coaches, managers and scouts will meet to summarize the season before putting together a roster for the next campaign.
"We've got to sit down as a group and figure out why we couldn't beat Anaheim. Why we beat Buffalo (Sabres, as well as the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins) and sort through it. Every team every year has changes to make. At the end of the discussions, hopefully, we'll be able to make the decisions to allow us to get to the finals again next year."