1,000 games, 1,000 memories

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:49 PM ET

Tonight will mark the 1,000th game in Senators history when they face the Leafs at Scotiabank Place.

And, along the way there have been a thousand memories for this traveller with more ahead. Here's a snapshot of a few:

- In Pittsburgh during the 1992-93 season, Senators defenceman Ken Hammond threw a perfect pass to the Penguins' Joe Mullen, who sent the puck to Ron Francis and it quickly landed behind Ottawa goalie Peter Sidorkiewicz for the game-winning goal. Afterward Hammond deadpanned: "If I'd seen Francis open, I wouldn't have given it to Mullen."

- Sitting by the pool in Florida one night in 1994, former Senators coach Rick Bowness decided the reporters covering the Senators didn't know what they were talking about. He demanded somebody draw him a breakout and when nobody could, Bowness used beer bottles as hockey players to show us how to take the puck out of the zone. From that point forward, Bowness was known as the designer of "The Beer Bottle Breakout."

- Who could ever forget Alexandre Daigle's ill-timed bomb joke at the Pittsburgh airport in 1996 -- with then-U.S. president Bill Clinton taking off nearby? The flight attendant turned Daigle into authorities, he was taken into custody, received a fine and then had to face the wrath of GM Pierre Gauthier once the team landed in Tampa.

- Defenceman Lance Pitlick didn't miss many shots ... verbally. He was at his best one day in New York when the driver headed for John F. Kennedy Airport and was informed the Senators were flying out from La Guardia. After Bernie the driver got completely lost and had to be guided by assistant coach Mike Murphy, Pitlick yelled from the back of the bus: "What is this? Weekend at Bernie's Part III?"

- Struggling to score goals, centre Bruce Gardiner turned to the toilet in 1997. Why not? Nothing else was working. So, Gardiner stuck his stick in the can, at the urging of teammate Tom Chorske, and went on a scoring streak. Centre Alexei Yashin heard the story and cringed: "I would never treat my sticks with such disrespect."

- Frustrated at the end of a long road trip, Ottawa winger Dennis Vial decided he'd had enough of then-Buffalo coach John Muckler. So, Vial fired a puck from behind the net right into the Sabres bench and just missed Muckler. "That was a move right out of Slapshot," said Muckler. Said Vial just before getting suspended: "I thought Slapshot was a pretty good movie."

- Gauthier was a hothead and he had some classic hissy fits. Nobody is sure if president Roy Mlakar had to get his suit cleaned, but he was there the night Gauthier sent a bottle of mustard flying all over the place in his private box because he didn't like Greg Millen's selection of the three stars.

- Dave Allison wasn't a very successful coach, but he was entertaining. During his first Saturday night game behind the Ottawa bench, he was sitting with a couple of scribes when he started talking about how great it was to be in the NHL and coaching on Hockey Night in Canada. "I was sitting in my hotel room this morning and I started humming the tune to Hockey Night in Canada and I just couldn't stop," said Allison.

- Former Senators coach Jacques Martin was the master of saying nothing, but even he couldn't believe the beauty he came up with before a playoff game in Long Island. Asked about the status of defenceman Karel Rachunek, Martin replied: "We'll decide tonight if he's injured."

- Sure, we talk about hockey on the media bus from the airport to the hotel and to the rink, but we also consider ourselves deep thinkers. During a one-hour trip from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, the seven media members that normally travelled with the team spent a good portion of the time trying to figure out if the song goes, "Who let the dogs out or Who let the dog out?" Once that mess had been sorted out, we all learned how to say, "Who let the dogs out?" in French.

See, we're not just wasting our time, we're getting an education.

Here's to 1,000 more.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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