After a lengthy layoff prior to the Stanley Cup final, the Senators have found themselves layered with a thick, shiny coat of enthusiasm, support and faithful allegiance.
If this fictional glaze had a name, it would be called "Can't Do Wrong."
And after several rallies, as well as an extended lovefest carried on by the media, it's hard to believe such behaviour hasn't been the norm all along.
But it only takes a few scratches at that gleaming coat of positivity to remember this wasn't always the case. The Senators know this better than anyone, and undoubtedly they find this new reality bizarre and on some level, quite amusing.
Take, for example, a poll conducted 580 CFRA's website in mid-May. The survey was entitled "I want to," and the following three options were available:
- "Unburden myself of my guilt -- and apologize to the Ottawa Senators for all the times (before February), I said they ought to get rid of (Daniel) Alfredsson, (Wade) Redden, (Jason) Spezza, (head coach Bryan) Murray or (GM John) Muckler";
- "Express my pride in having stood by my team from Day One -- knowing this would be the Senators' Year of Destiny";
According to the website, 970 people took part -- here's how the voting shook down: 14.9% selected the first option, 78.6% chose the second and 6.39% picked the third.
A sampling of 970 is fairly large -- you're telling me none of these 763 perpetually supportive participants vented on any of the local radio shows earlier in the season? They never went searching online for widely trumpeted websites calling for the dismissal of both Murray and Muckler?
It's possible this group may have maintained a positive outlook toward the team since October, but I'd say it's probable that many wavered in the first few months. My cynicism is too strong to assume otherwise (such an attitude is an unfortunate prerequisite when becoming a Senators fan).
Here's what I do know: The Senators proved me wrong this season, and I'm not afraid to admit it.
At one point last week, I sat down and went through my columns and notes from the last year. I found one memo I had scribbled after training camp where I made a few predictions. Things like, "Sens will finish in bottom half of Eastern Conference," "Joe Corvo won't last the year," "Martin Gerber doesn't seem like a No. 1 goaltender" and "Alexei Kaigorodov will never be a No. 2 centre (in Ottawa)."
I went 2-for-4. Even armchair GMs are prone to making the right assessment every once in a while.
Nearly every Sens fan was bound to criticize and question things during those early months this season.
And obviously no GM, head coach or player is infallible; there was no steadfast guarantee that all would be well (and then some) come playoff time.
Regardless, front-office members like president Roy Mlakar continued to insist the ship would be righted, and relentlessly hammered the point home. Some of us scoffed -- I know I did. Could the cards have fallen differently? Anything's possible.
But the fact is they didn't, and now the Senators have every right to say, "I told you so" to the former naysayers.
That's what makes the current situation all the more interesting. Everyone's unbelievably pleased and proud, but very few are willing to admit they were off-target about this season in the early going -- save for the 14.9% in the above poll. Personally, I'm more than willing to stand alongside them.
The Senators turned out to be right after all.
And frankly, this is one of those rare occasions where it feels fantastic to be proven wrong.