You can’t spell Oni the Haitian Sensation without Sens.
The Ottawa poet’s hair matches the home team’s jersey, too, but that’s a minor detail when you stack up all the reasons why she was doing a little splurging at the Rideau Centre Sports Experts store Tuesday.
“I’m here for my son, really,” said Oni. “But I really like those retro jerseys.”
No doubt. The old barber pole-style sweaters of the original Senators are emblazoned with a giant ‘O’ — which could equally stand for Oni.
There’s more. Oni has an emotional bond with the local team. The organization helped support victims of the earthquake in her home country.
“I’m returning the favour by supporting them,” she said.
Thousands will do the same this week as the Senators head to Pennsylvania to face off against the defending Stanley Cup champions in this year’s race for the coveted NHL trophy.
But maybe not Paul Archambault, who is also doing some browsing.
“I’m just looking at Team Canada stuff,” he said.
Pressed for the reason, he came clean that he was a San Jose fan, but with defendable reasons. He’s related to Ottawa native Dan Boyle, Olympian and Shark defenceman.
“His mom’s my cousin, I know him personally,” he said.
No Sens fever there. It is, however, the type of affliction that hits in even the most unlikely places.
If you do a Google search for “Ottawa + penguin,” you come up with only one non-hockey hit — Roaring Penguin Software Inc. If you think Archambault is conflicted, these guys are in a real pickle.
“If Pittsburgh stops pucks like we stop spam, the Sens are in trouble,” said Bill White, the VP of sales and marketing.
His quirky office space is littered with toys, musical instruments, a foosball table and, of course, a few stuffed penguins.
“This is really hard for us because we’re hard-core Senators fans,” said White, though careful not to insult his totem namesake. “But penguins, you have to love penguins — we’re small, flightless birds.”
Meantime, back at Sports Experts, manager Steve Larocque has something for everyone — even Penguins supporters, though it should be mentioned there is no “Sidney” available amongst the vanity name keychains.
“We’re hoping the same thing transpires as a couple years ago,” he said reminiscing of the Sens’ run to the 2008 Stanley Cup final. “Let’s hope they keep going.”