Sens' 10 defining moments of 2010

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:17 PM ET

Ten defining moments in a tumultuous 2010 for the Senators:

Jan. 14

Coming off a 6-1 loss in Atlanta, the Sens cancel practice and go for a skate at an outdoor rink in New York’s Central Park. Hours later, the struggling club fires goalie coach Eli Wilson. The next night at Madison Square Garden, Binghamton callup Mike Brodeur — who arrived just hours before the game to replace an injured Pascal Leclaire and an ailing Brian Elliott — earns a 2-0 shutout victory over the Rangers. That starts an 11-game winning streak.

April 6

Daniel Alfredsson achieves a major milestone — suiting up for 1,000 games with the same team. The Senators captain, who played his first game in an Ottawa uniform on Oct. 13, 1995, gets an assist for his 990th career point in a 5-2 road victory over the Panthers on his special night. “It feels good obviously to win and you’ll remember this game fondly,” said Alfredsson, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.

April 22

Down 3-1 in their opening-round playoff series to the Penguins, the Senators turn to Leclaire to replace Elliott in net for Game 5. Leclaire makes 56 saves in a 4-3 triple-OT victory as unlikely hero Matt Carkner nets the winner. “It’s definitely the most exciting hockey game I’ve been part of,” said Leclaire. Unfortunately for the Senators, they were eliminated with a 4-3 loss in Game 6.

July 1

The Senators strike first in free agency. Only 22 minutes after the signing period opens at noon, GM Bryan Murray inks former Penguins defenceman Sergei Gonchar to a three-year, $16.5-million US deal. “It’s how you win games in the league now,” Murray said of his aggressive approach. “We had rated players — forwards and defencemen — and he was the No. 1 guy overall by far.” As a result, the Senators say goodbye to shot-blocker extraordinaire Anton Volchenkov, who signs with New Jersey.

July 10

Senators centre Mike Fisher marries country music star Carrie Underwood at a posh resort just outside Atlanta. More than 250 guests attend the ceremony, which was cloaked in secrecy with guards surrounding the venue. “The only part I was nervous about was everybody watching you,” said Fisher. “But we were more thinking about each other. I wasn’t really nervous, to be honest.”

Sept. 15

In the same room at the Chateau Laurier where Terrace Investments announced 21 years earlier it was chasing an NHL franchise, Ottawa is awarded the 2012 all-star game. “This is one of those activities for our fans that we’re willing to go that extra mile for them and go the extra step. This is a way of thanking them for the support that they’ve given,” said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk.

Oct. 15

Leclaire limps down the hallway at Scotiabank Place with a leg injury during Ottawa’s 3-2 win over Carolina. It’s just the latest setback for the oft-injured goalie, who sat out 24 games in the 2009-10 season due to a broken cheekbone and later a concussion. Leclaire misses almost a month with the leg injury and is now out of the lineup again with a lower-body injury. A UFA in July, his NHL career could be over.

Oct. 22

Chasing 1,000 career points, Alfredsson hits the magic number in style, reaching the mark and getting a hat trick to boot with an empty-net goal in a 4-2 win over the Sabres at HSBC Arena. “You couldn’t write a better script for that,” said coach Cory Clouston.

Nov. 13

Preparing to face the Bruins to start a four-game road trip, the Senators learn the devastating news that assistant coach Luke Richardson’s 14-year-old daughter Daron has taken her own life. The grief-stricken team pulls out a 2-0 victory in Boston and the players return to Ottawa to attend a memorial service with more than 5,000 people at Scotiabank Place.

Dec. 2

Dany Heatley returns to Ottawa for the first time since being dealt to the Sharks in September 2009. He is booed every time he touches the puck, but he gets the last laugh as the Senators suffer an embarrassing 4-0 loss. Heatley doesn’t shed much light on why he wanted out of the capital. “I’ve stayed true to my reasons from the start,” he said. “If people can’t accept that reason of needing a change and a change in role, then that’s fine, but it’s simply that.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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