As another decade winds down, Faces takes a moment to look back at some of the most memorable moments in Ottawa sports over the past ten years.
By Steve Warne
The Senators closed the decade in the first steps of a rebuild. They had just finished dead last, selling off several of their star free agents for top draft picks and prospects. 2010-2019 saw them go through six head coaches, missing the playoffs in five of the ten years, and winning only three playoff series. Between losing and cost-cutting, the relationship between Ottawa’s fan base and ownership grew strained, leading to the NHL’s lowest attendance numbers to start 2019-20.
The Senators’ unlikely sprint to the 2017 Eastern Conference Final stands as the highlight, falling just one goal short of the Stanley Cup Final. In 2015, Ottawa also cheered on “The Hamburglar Run.” An unheralded, undrafted goalie named Andrew Hammond (nickname: The Hamburglar) came up from the minors and couldn’t lose. Hammond posted a ridiculous record of 20–1–2, helping the Senators clinch a Stanley Cup playoff berth.
In 2013, Daniel Alfredsson – the greatest player in franchise history – played his final NHL season…with the Detroit Red Wings! Alfredsson left in free agency, unable to get a deal done with the Sens. The relationship between Alfie and the Sens ran hot and cold during this time.
July 2013: Alfredsson signs with Detroit
December 2014: Alfredsson returns and officially retires as an Ottawa Senator
September 2015: Alfredsson is named Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations
December 2016: Alfredsson’s number is retired
July 2017: Alfredsson leaves the club for unknown reasons
May 2018: Alfredsson quoted as saying, “We hope we get a new owner.”
The decade’s other notable retirements included defenceman Chris Phillips, who played 1179 games with the club, one game more than Alfredsson. Tough guy Chris Neil also retired and, like Phillips, played over 1000 games, all with Ottawa.
We lost a number of former Ottawa Senators over the past decade. Ray Emery, who backstopped Ottawa to its first and only Stanley Cup Final appearance, died in a drowning accident in 2018. Pavol Demitra and Karel Rachunek were both killed in the 2011 KHL plane crash. Marek Svatos, only an Ottawa Senator for a brief time, died in 2016 of combined drug intoxication.
Former Senators’ GM Bryan Murray, the first member of the club’s ring of honour, was also among those who passed away. The club’s former coach and GM died of colon cancer in 2017. He coached 1239 NHL games in 5 cities and led the Sens to the 2007 Stanley Cup final. EJ McGuire and Mark Reeds, who both spent time as Sens’ assistant coaches, left us in 2011 and 2015, respectively.
The Sens have had no shortage of big trades over the past ten years. Here are the biggest from each calendar year:
2010: Sens trade their first-round pick for D David Rundblad
2011: Sens acquire G Craig Anderson from Colorado for G Brian Elliot.
2012: Sens acquire D Marc Methot from Columbus for F Nick Foligno.
2013: Sens acquire F Bobby Ryan from Anaheim for F Jakub Silfverberg, F Stefan Noesen and a 1st round pick.
2014: Sens trade Jason Spezza to Dallas for Nick Paul, Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill.
2015: Sens trade Robin Lehner and David Legwand to Buffalo for a 1st round pick (Colin White).
2016: Sens trade Mika Zibanejad and a 2nd round pick to the New York Rangers for Derrick Brassard and a 7th rounder.
2017: Sens acquire Matt Duchene for Kyle Turris, first-rounder Shane Bowers, goalie Andrew Hammond, Ottawa’s 2019 1st round pick (4th overall); a three-way deal with Colorado and Nashville.
2018: Sens trade Erik Karlsson to San Jose for Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris and two conditional draft picks. Sharks also receive Francis Perron.
2019: Sens trade F Mark Stone to Las Vegas for D Erik Brannstrom, F Oskar Lindberg and a 2nd round pick.
The Senators had six head coaches during the decade.
Cory Clouston 2009–2011
Paul MacLean 2011–2014 (2013 NHL coach of the year)
Dave Cameron 2014–2016
Guy Boucher 2016–2019
Marc Crawford 2019
D. J. Smith 2019
The CFL Returns to Ottawa
After losing 2 CFL franchises in nine years (the Rough Riders and Renegades), the CFL returned to Ottawa in 2014. The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group opted to call the new franchise the REDBLACKS. After a dismal expansion season, the Redblacks made it to the Grey Cup game in just their second year. Third time was the charm as the Redblacks won the 2016 Grey Cup Championship, defeating Calgary in overtime, ending a 40-year Grey Cup drought for the city of Ottawa.
The team would return for a third Grey Cup appearance in 2018, but Calgary would get their revenge in that game. The Redblacks were being hailed as a model franchise, their new facility an amazing place to watch a game. But 2019 was a disaster. Quarterback Trevor Harris and other key free agents signed elsewhere and were not well replaced. Their offensive coordinator, Jaime Elizondo, left for the XFL, almost on the eve of training camp. The club finished 3-15, dead last in the CFL. Rick Campbell, the only head coach they’d ever known, left at the end of the season to sign with the BC Lions.
Smiths Falls golfer Brooke Henderson was 12 years old when the decade opened. Now, as it comes to a close, Henderson is arguably the greatest golfer in Canadian history. She’s certainly the most accomplished, with the most ever pro tour wins (9) by a Canadian. Henderson was named the Canadian Press female athlete of the year for 2015, 2017 and 2018. She won her first major in 2016 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, becoming the event’s youngest winner. She’s already re-written the Canadian record books and she’s just getting started.
Ottawa skip Rachel Homan ends the decade with no signs of slowing down. Homan and her team of Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney, and Lisa Weagle won the 2019 Canada Cup on December 1st, earning the first spot in the 2021 Roar of the Rings Olympic Trials, an event they won in Ottawa in 2017. Homan’s rink has also won three Scotties Tournament of Hearts titles (2013, 2014, 2017), one World Championship (2017) and the 2015 Canada Cup title.
The Ottawa tennis player has become one of the world’s top mixed double players. Dabrowski won the 2017 French Open with her playing partner, Rohan Bopanna. In doing so, she became the first Canadian woman to win a senior Grand Slam title. The following year, she won the Australian Open title with her new partner, Mate Pavić.
Ottawa 67’s and Brian Kilrea
The 67’s closed the decade with their finest season by far. The 2018-19 team finished with a franchise-best 50 wins and 106 points. Even more incredibly, they swept their opponents in each of the first three series. But, in the OHL final, they ran into an equally excellent Guelph team, bowing out in six games. The club had three head coaches in this era – Chris Byrne, Jeff Brown and Andre Tourigny (present).
Back in the summer of 2011, Brian Kilrea resigned as Ottawa 67’s general manager, a role he had held since 1995. Killer got one more chance behind the bench for one game on October 17, 2014, to celebrate his 80th birthday. The 67’s had started the season 0-4. Kilrea helped snap that skid and won career game number 1,194.
Stittsville wrestler Erica Wiebe did Canada proud with a gold medal victory at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She won the women’s 75 kg freestyle, becoming just the third ever Canadian Olympic wrestling champion.
Carleton Ravens Men’s’ Basketball
The Ravens have enjoyed an almost Harlem Globetrotter-like dominance over Canadian men’s university basketball. The club has won 14 of the last 17 national championships, including 8 in this decade (2011-2017, 2019).
Return of Carleton University Football
After a 14 year absence, 2013 marked the return of football at Carleton University. Not even an opening 71-4 loss to Western could dampen the enthusiasm. Their “Hail Mary” win over Ottawa in the 2014 Panda Game in a brand new TD Place was a signature moment for the program’s resurrection.
Rise and Fall of Ottawa Fury FC
Pro soccer returned to Ottawa in 2014 as the Fury FC played their first game in the North American Soccer League. 2015 was their best season, going all the way to the Soccer Bowl Final, losing 3-2 to the New York Cosmos. The club later moved to the USL, competing there from 2017-19 before suspending operations.
Ottawa’s Dustin Cook shocked the skiing world in February 2015 when he won super-G silver at the world championships in Colorado. Just over a month later, Cook added his first World Cup victory, also in the super-G. Cook has been competing on the World Cup circuit since the fall of 2010 and made his world championship debut in 2013. He finished ninth in his Olympic debut at PyeongChang 2018.
Ottawa Co-Hosts the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Ottawa hosted 9 matches in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, including the quarterfinal victory of the eventual champion USA 1-0 over China. Canada – led by Christine Sinclair – would lose out in the quarterfinals to England.
Landsdowne Park Revitalized
In 2010, with Lansdowne Park in dire need of a facelift, Ottawa City council passed a plan to redevelop the park by a vote of 15-9. By 2012, after interference from local groups who opposed the plans, work began to partially rebuild the park, including the football and hockey stadiums. Lansdowne was renamed TD Place and the project was completed just in time for the return of the CFL in Ottawa in 2014.
Ottawa Champions Live Up to Their Nickname
Ottawa Champions won the 2016 Can-Am Baseball League title with a 3-1 win over the Rockland Boulders. It was their first league title in just their second season. The decade would end with the Champions discussing entry into a new league, with a new stadium lease and a possible sale to the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. Their stadium was also briefly home to the Ottawa Fat Cats who waddled out of the Ottawa sports scene in 2012.
Ottawa cyclist Michael “Rusty” Woods was the 2018 World Championship bronze medalist. The 2016 Olympian was once a professional runner, and is the only person to have run the 4-minute mile and completed the Tour de France.