A decade spent in the House That Rod Built

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

Ten years already, huh? The Palladium/Corel Centre/Scotiabank Place played host to its first NHL game 10 years ago earlier this week.

Andrei Kovalenko of the Montreal Canadiens scored the first NHL goal in the building's history as the Habs shut out the Senators 3-0 in that first game.

Defenceman Steve Duchesne -- who, in my opinion, is the personality of note in the building's first 10 years -- scored the first Senators goal in the next game, a 7-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

There have been a lot of interesting moments over the years at the House That Rod Built and interesting people who passed through its doors.

Unfortunately for Senators fans, there might be more notable disappointments than triumphs.

Not all the notable events happened on the ice (one of my favourites: The night in the media lounge when GM Pierre Gauthier got to the buffet and found all the cookies gone. The next game there was a sign up limiting everyone to one cookie).

Here are one guy's 10 most significant moments from the first 10 years...

10. Victory dance:

The Senators' first win at the Corel Centre, Jan. 29, 1996. The first game at what was then the Palladium kicked off a nine-game homestand. The Senators lost that first one, and the second, and the third, and the fourth, tied the fifth (against the Leafs) and then -- finally! -- beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 for their first win on home ice. They didn't get their second win there until March 13. We forget: The Senators just weren't that good back then.

9. One bloody mess

Leafs 4, Senators 3, May 12, 2000. Up 3-2 in their second-round series and ahead 2-0 in the game, Ottawa D Ricard Persson knocks Leafs winger Tie Domi into the boards. Domi never bleeds, but he did this time. The Leafs score two during Persson's major and go on to win the series in Game 7. "If Tie Domi had any balance when we were up 2-0 in Game 6, we probably would have won this series," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

8. Hire power

Gauthier hires Jacques Martin as coach, Jan. 24, 1996. Gauthier fired coach Dave Allison and assistants Chico Resch and Pierre McGuire and brought in Martin, who was an assistant in Colorado. It marked the first of many meetings with the media at the rink in which Martin said very little. His hiring, though, was a key move that spurred the Senators to elite status.

7. Running a Muck

GM John Muckler fires Martin, April 22, 2004. Ousted after another loss to the Leafs, Martin holds a press conference and departs with class. It was all part of the process, I guess.

6. Playoff payoff

Senators 3, Devils 1, May 2, 1998. When Senators defenceman Igor Kravchuk scores an empty-net goal with 50 seconds left in the game, the Corel Centre erupts. The Senators win their first playoff series, 4-2 over the Devils. (Who knew there would be so few to follow?) "I never heard a crowd that loud in my life," said Senators defenceman Lance Pitlick.

5. An inspiration to all

Senators 3, Devils 1, May 19, 2003. Assistant coach Roger Neilson, dying of cancer, gives an emotional speech to the Senators before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. Down 3-1 in the series, the inspired Senators go out and win. "I have been around a lot of things," said Senators veteran forward Shaun Van Allen of Neilson's passionate plea not to waste their chance, "but I don't know if I have been around anything like that before."

4. Open for business

Senators Opening Night, Jan. 17, 1996. It was a night many naysayers said would never happen. A world- class building opened in a cornfield and Ottawa officially became big-league. Never mind the Senators lost the game. The fact it even took place at all was the story that night.

3. Friesen in time

Devils 3, Senators 2, May 23, 2003. Any Senators fan remembers that 2-on-1. Three Senators chasing Devils forward Grant Marshall, who dishes to Jeff Friesen. He beats Ottawa goaltender Patrick Lalime with a little more than two minutes to play to end the Senators season in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. The most crushing moment in the modern history of the Senators.

2. Hitting the post-season

Senators 1, Buffalo Sabres 0, April 12, 1997. From the most crushing to the most uplifting ... Duchesne scored the only goal of the game with four minutes and one second remaining, triggering what might be the best moment in Senators history to date. The numerous playoff disappointments were yet to come and at that moment, the feeling of making it to the post-season for the first time were of such hope and possibility.

1. Great way to go

Wayne Gretzky's last NHL game as a player in Canada, April 15, 1999. For one night, the building was the centre of the hockey world as it became clear Gretzky was retiring. "One more year!" the fans chanted, speaking for all fans, as The Great One took a final tour of the ice.

There's my list.

But the best moment is yet to come, said Senators defenceman Wade Redden.

"That'll be when we raise the Stanley Cup," he said.


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