Sens have big plans for 20th season

Ottawa Senator Chris Neil practices at Bell Sensplex Thursday July 21, 2011. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI...

Ottawa Senator Chris Neil practices at Bell Sensplex Thursday July 21, 2011. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI AGENCY)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:45 AM ET

OTTAWA - The Senators are celebrating their 20th anniversary in style.

Fans will have to wait to see if roster changes are enough to get the club back into the playoffs. But they won’t have to wait long for a special blast from the past.

All the players from the roster of the franchise’s inaugural game are being invited back to be introduced before the home opener, Oct. 11 against the Minnesota Wild. That should also cut down on the boos directed Dany Heatley’s way.

It seems like only yesterday that captain Laurie Boschman and his new teammates scored a 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 8, 1992 at the Civic Centre.

“It does bring back a lot of memories,” said Boschman. “The important thing is that going into their 20th year, this team has been — if you take away the last couple of years — their record has been equal to anybody in the NHL.

“It’s been wonderful to be a hockey fan here and to raise three boys that are Senators fans. That’s what’s really neat.”

On Thursday, the Senators unveiled their 20th anniversary logo, the slogan “Hockey Makes US” and showed a highlight video. But they held off on showing off the flashy new heritage jersey they’ll wear Oct. 13 at home against the Colorado Avalanche.

Senators president Cyril Leeder, who helped found the team with former owner Bruce Firestone and former president/GM Randy Sexton, said the club will honour the past and what hockey means to the Ottawa area throughout the season. They’re also vowing to continue to be straight with the fans when it comes to rebuilding this club.

“You’re not going to fool the hockey fan in the nation’s capital and we’ve always felt the best way to deal with that is to be honest,” said Leeder. “We were straightforward with the fans and they responded. We made the decision to rebuild and they feel that we’re on the right track.”

The Senators will also honour the team that got to the playoffs for the first time in 1997, and will hold a night to honour the memory of late legendary assistant coach Roger Neilson.

Scoreboard update

Leeder wouldn’t confirm Scotiabank Place will have a new scoreboard for the all-star game in January, but wouldn’t rule it out, either. “We’re still actively pursuing and seeking a way to get a new board,” he said. If it’s installed during the season, the Senators would need a two-week break in the home schedule — which they have Nov. 11-25 during a six-game road trip.

Ticket sales on track

The Senators are pleased with their season-ticket sales. “We’ve had the best June and July we’ve ever had,” said Leeder. “We hope to start this year with more than 10,000 season tickets, which is where we started last year. We hope to have an increase this year.” Tickets for pre-season games, along with three and five-game packs, go on sale next Friday. Single-game seat sales start Sept. 9.


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