OTTAWA - Marc Methot already feels right at home.
Twice a week, the Senators’ newly acquired blueliner grabs the hockey bag out of his Mooney’s Bay home, jumps in the car and heads to the Bell Sensplex to take a twirl with his new teammates, including Chris Neil and Mark Borowiecki.
The Ottawa native, who was dealt to the Senators on July 1 by the Columbus Blue Jackets for winger Nick Foligno, doesn’t have to go through what most players have to deal with when they get traded.
While Foligno tried to find a home in Columbus, Methot mapped out the best route to Scotiabank Place.
Nearly a month since the trade, Methot’s enthusiasm to play for his hometown team hasn’t worn off
“I’m still really excited,” Methot told the Sun in a wide-ranging chat last week. “The whole overwhelming feeling, because I had never been traded, has kind of faded. Now, I’ve got the Sens’ gear, I’m wearing it in practice and I’m getting used to it.
“It really feels like I’m becoming part of the team now. I’m around (some of the guys) and I’m getting comfortable. I believe it has sunk in, but until I don’t think it really will until I start skating with the team and have to go to Scotiabank Place to practise with the team.”
Methot was drafted by former Jackets GM Doug MacLean in 2003. The 27-year-old was happy in Columbus, but is excited at getting the chance to play where hockey matters. The Jackets are rarely front-page material.
The Ohio State Buckeyes steal the headlines. Rest assured, Methot didn’t take many late-July calls from a Columbus reporter wanting to talk about what might happen in September.
“You can absolutely call it a fresh start,” said Methot, who will work at the Senators’ hockey school next week.
“I’m going to get a chance to play in front of my family and friends. I don’t think the situation could be any better. I’ve been taking the situation pretty serious this summer with regards with my training and preparing so I don’t let people down.”
While Methot is getting the chance to play in his hometown, he’s also going to be under the microscope.
If he makes a mistake, he might get criticized or take it from a caller to the Team 1200 post-game show. His parents, Al and Betty, along with the rest of his family, certainly wouldn’t have heard that criticism in Columbus.
Methot’s not worried.
“I better play good hockey, right?” said Methot, tongue-in-cheek. “When I’m focused I’m not concerned with that stuff. When you’re playing in a market like this, you’re going to get criticized. It’s part of the game.
“Do I ignore it? Yes. I try not to listen to it. Does it bother me? I’d be lying if I said I just shrugged it off. Sometimes it will piss you off. You’ve got to deal with it. My parents, family and friends, understand it’s not always going to be peaches and cream.”
He’s glad people care here. That wasn’t always the case in Columbus.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it: I have the utmost respect for the fans there,” said Methot. “It’s just sometimes during the week we wouldn’t get a packed house and we’d be playing a team like Chicago or Detroit and it sounded like half the building were from those markets or were fans of the other team. We were losing a lot of games, people weren’t happy and it wasn’t a great atmosphere.”
Told visits by the Leafs or Habs to Scotiabank Place are similar, Methot noted: “I do know I’m playing in a bigger hockey market here and that’s something I’m really looking forward to being a part of.”
Methot said the trade came at the right time.
“I’m starting to come into my prime as a player,” he said. “I’m at the age where I feel like I can actually be a factor on a team and play some big minutes.
“It was just icing on the cake that it was my hometown that I got traded to. I’m ready to be a factor here.”
Methot returned to Ottawa while the Senators were on playoff runs and knows what hockey means here.
“My only focus is playing in the playoffs,” he said. “I’d watch all the games on CBC and all I’d say to myself is how badly I want to be a part of that. All the attention guys get for playing in the playoffs and the buzz around the city.
“I saw it for myself when I was around the city. That’s something I’m really looking forward to being a part of.”
It might be late July, but Methot can’t wait for September.