Star struck

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

No season? No matter. We still care about the Senators. And with that in mind, we've picked an all-time Senators team.

Some are still here.

Many have come and gone.

But they are all at the top of the class when it comes to selecting the best 12 players from the 213 players (196 skaters and 17 goalies) who have put on a Senators' uniform since the team returned to the NHL in 1992-93.

Making the selections was not easy. Opinions differ. Consensus can be difficult to reach. But the Senators are a young franchise and there's a belief that many of today's players are among the club's best ever.

To determine the top players in the Senators' history, the Sun conducted a poll of people involved with the organization for the last 14 years, including former coach Jacques Martin, former player personnel director John Ferguson Sr., GM John Muckler, original bench boss Rick Bowness and longtime strength coach Randy Lee.

President Roy Mlakar chipped in with his choices along with Corel Centre/Senators COO Cyril Leeder, who has been here since former owner Bruce Firestone made a bid for the franchise, and assistant general manager Peter Chiarelli.

Thanks also goes to Team 1200 hosts Dean Brown, Gord Wilson and Steve Lloyd for their participation, along with Senators public relations whiz Phil Legault for urging the club's management to get their votes in.

With that in mind, following is the Sun's all-time team:

ALEXEI YASHIN, C

- Senators career: 1993-2001

- Stats: 504 GP, 218 G, 273 A, 491 Pts, 222 PIMs

- The skinny: Okay, this one is going to drive everybody nuts, but Yashin received every first-place vote. Say what you want about his ability to honour contracts, but Yashin was one of the most skilled players to ever put on a Senators' jersey and most certainly was the best centre. When he wasn't engaged in a contract fight with former owner Rod Bryden, he was contributing on the ice -- he averaged almost a point-per-game and made people around him better. His problem? Consistency for 60 minutes. Will Yashin ever reach his potential? Islanders fans will find out, if the NHL ever returns.

SHAWN MCEACHERN, LW

- Senators career: 1996-2002

- Stats: 454 GP, 142 G, 162 A, 304 Pts, 244 Pims

- The skinny: Former Senators GM Pierre Gauthier didn't do much right during his short tenure, but he did steal McEachern from the Bruins for role player Trent McCleary on draft day in 1996. Even though McEachern lost his scoring touch in his final year in Ottawa, he was a solid addition, producing goals on the ice and becoming involved in the community off it. The lone reason he was shipped to Atlanta was money -- the club couldn't afford his $3-million US salary after his poor season. He's a smart player and a good guy in the room. That's why the Thrashers named him captain.

DANIEL ALFREDSSON, RW

- Senators career: 1995-present

- Stats: 629 GP, 219 G, 349 A, 568 Pts, 259 Pims

- The skinny: Want to hear a funny story? The Senators almost didn't draft Alfredsson in the 1994 entry draft. "We're sitting at the table and I wanted to make sure I got this guy," recalled Ferguson, now a special assistant to San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson. "(Former GM) Randy Sexton doesn't want to take any more Europeans because we'd taken a lot in the earlier rounds and I tell him, 'Look, we're taking this guy.' We had a heck of an argument. I spent a week in Europe watching Alfredsson and everybody kept asking me what I was doing there. I knew this guy could play, so I played it low key. I thought he was the steal of the draft." No kidding. Where would the Senators be without their captain? Respected on and off the ice, Alfredsson is the team's all-time MVP.

WADE REDDEN, D

- Senators career: 1996-present

- Stats: 629 GP, 78 G, 208 A, 286 Pts, 403 Pims

- The skinny: Dealing unhappy defenceman Bryan Berard to the Islanders in January, 1996 in a three-way deal that landed Redden was another good move by Gauthier. Redden is often the first player criticized by callers to the post-game shows because his mistakes are noticeable. But nobody plays more valuable minutes, and moves the puck or anticipates better. He has become a key on the power play and is relied on in big situations. His role won't change under coach Bryan Murray.

ZDENO CHARA, D

- Senators career: 2001-present

- Stats: 228 GP, 35 G, 68 A, 103 Pts, 419 Pims

- The skinny: There's no question Chara is pushing to become the top defenceman in Ottawa, but is he the best of all time? That will be determined down the road. A finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league's top blueliner last season -- a first in club history -- Chara deserves to be on this list, but there was also a push for retired blueliner Steve Duchesne. "I know some people like Duchesne, but I believe Chara brings an element of toughness and a willingness to battle," said Senators GM John Muckler. "Duchesne was the first defenceman the Senators had with star quality, but I like Chara because he's going to be on this list for a long time."

PATRICK LALIME, G

- Senators career: 1999-2004

- Stats: 183 GP, 146-100-30 W-L-T, 2.32 GAA, .906%

- The skinny: Stop with the jokes about the five-hole and the red-light district behind the Senators net in Game 7 of the first-round series against the Leafs last spring. No, Lalime didn't perform the way anybody expected in the playoffs last season, but he deserves some credit for the club's post-season success. Remember, Ottawa got to within a win of the Stanley Cup final in 2003, and Lalime played a big role in playoff victories over the Islanders and Philadelphia that year. He might be gone to the St. Louis Blues, but he was probably the best goalie the Senators have had. Now let's see what Dominik Hasek can do.

JACQUES MARTIN, COACH

- Senators career: 1995-2004

- Stats: 341-255-96 W-L-T

- The skinny: Is there really any other choice in this category? Not a chance. After taking over for the disastrous Dave Allison, Martin restored order in the dressing room and brought faith in a system. The Senators thrived under Martin because he demanded the club play with discipline. And forget all this stuff about him being strictly a defensive coach -- the Senators were a high-scoring unit on his watch. Was he boring? Yes, but his message got through for a long time. His lone fault? He couldn't beat the Leafs in the playoffs.


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