Sports

A Beautiful Night: Senators Fans Get Money’s Worth in Wild, Amazing, Emotional Home Opener

The Ottawa Senators 2022-23 home opener Tuesday night is going to be remembered for a long time, for a lot of reasons.

Sure, the game itself was a beauty – a back and forth thriller. The Sens jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, then allowed Boston to tie it at 3. Ottawa responded with 3 more to take a 6-3 lead, but then allowed Boston to claw back to within one. Finally, mid-way through the third, Artem Zub smacked home his own rebound and this time, finally, the Bruins stayed down.

The Sens won 7-5 for their first victory of the season. But as wild as the game was, the night will be remembered for so much more.

It’ll be remembered for the loud, sell-out Ottawa crowd, screaming their lungs out before the puck had even dropped. Last night was a reminder of how passionate this city is for its team. All they’ve ever wanted is a few shreds of hope, and a sense that the franchise is doing things properly, moving in the right direction.

And for probably the first time since the Sens fell in overtime in Game 7 of the 2017 NHL Eastern Final, it looks like that time is here. The club has not only rebuilt on the ice, they’ve rebuilt fractured, mangled relationships – with fans, corporate partners, the city and NCC, and their own alumni. A year ago, all of them felt alienated. Now they’re all engaged and excited again. That includes the legendary Daniel Alfredsson, who’s tried vainly in the past to be part of this team.

And last night just felt like a homecoming for the longtime captain. Sure, he’s had nights like this before, retiring as a Senator and having his number retired by the team.

This one felt permanent, like Alfie is home to stay.

Just before puck drop, Alfredsson’s theme music, U2’s “A Beautiful Day” began to play in the arena and everyone knew exactly what was coming. With chants of “Alfie! Alfie!” raining down from the stands, the 2022 Hockey Hall of Famer walked out in a black Sens jersey and dropped the ceremonial first puck to begin a beautiful night.

Being so busy with his young family, Alfredsson has no plans to rejoin the team anytime soon. But he certainly hasn’t closed the door on the idea. Whether he returns or not, that fence feels fully mended. This team and its new decision makers are finally treating the greatest player in franchise history like he’s the greatest player in franchise history.

To say the Sens, as a team, were an inspired lot last night would be a massive understatement. The Sens came out flying like it was opening night of the playoffs, where they hope to be in six months. It took newcomer Claude Giroux just over one minute to score in his official hometown debut as an Ottawa Senator.

The crowd absolutely erupted, and no one more than Giroux’s son, Gavin. Dad’s goal was the start of an absolute roller coaster ride last night, and thankfully for the Giroux boys, there were no height restrictions.

Two and a half hours later, after the club’s first win of the young NHL season, Brady Tkachuk addressed the fans in the arena through an in-house post game interview with TSN. Tkachuk has lived through the rebuild, the losing, the small crowds, and the fanless hockey of COVID. It is clear that the captain may be the most energized Ottawa Senator of all.

Yes, the Senators still have some work to do on the defensive side, but it appears an exciting new era has begun in Ottawa. Last night marked the start of it all, and Sens fans are hungry for more.

By Steve Warne 

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