May 15, 2007
Sens have finally grown upIf nothing else, losing helped Ottawa build character
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media
Too many Senators have been through the endless playoff heartache and heartbreak.
Now, they want to enjoy the good times.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson has seen in it all in his 10 post-seasons with the Senators. Defencemen Wade Redden and Chris Phillips and centre Mike Fisher have been here for the most difficult defeats as well.
They are on the verge of living the dream and going to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in team history with a series victory over the Buffalo Sabres and holding a 2-0 lead in the East final going into Game 3 last night at Scotiabank Place.
"They've had to go through some tough times along the way and I'm sure that's toughened them up a little," said former Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman, who as GM led Canada to a gold medal at the world championship in Moscow. "There's no question that can happen to you. Sometimes you have to go through tough times before you can have success. You develop more of an edge and you get stronger. Every team goes through it and it takes hard to work to get out of it."
There have been hard lessons learned along the way: Inexplicable losses, four-game sweeps and who can forget Jeff Friesen's series-winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final for New Jersey in 2003?
Coach Bryan Murray said the Senators have learned all they needed to know about losing and are ready to turn the page.
"There are cycles in every organization," said Murray. "You have to lose a little bit before you can win. It's a learning curve. You get beaten some year that you don't think you're going to get beaten. We got beaten last year and we thought we had a real good team. We just weren't good enough at playoff time. We hope that we learn from that. It teaches us things that allows us to step forward."
Murray said the Senators have stepped up.
"I'm not sure if leadership is vocal or performance, but we have a group of guys performing real well and, in particular, a group of guys who have been here for a number of years," said Murray.
"You can go down the list of people. I don't know if saying they've bought in is right word or if they're just stepping up and playing and bringing people along with them by their play. That's the biggest part of it."
Alfredsson is glad to see this group of Senators succeeding.
"Being an older guy now and being in the playoffs a lot of times, and at different stages internationally as well, you know what to expect and what comes with this," said Alfredsson.
"You've just got to enjoy this time and I think we're doing that. You've got to make the most of it when you have the chance. We realize we have a good team and we've just got to keep it going."