5,000 welcome Sens back

AEDAN HELMER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

In the end, after the tears had dried from the previous night's heartbreaking Stanley Cup final loss at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, all that was left to do was cheer.

At least 5,000 fans lined the thoroughfare at the Ottawa International Airport -- some showing up several hours early to stake out a good spot along the barricades -- to welcome the Ottawa Senators home for the last time this season.

As the players return to Scotiabank Place to clear out their stalls before heading off to the shortest summer in team history, Sens fans welcomed them back with a rousing chorus of "Go Sens Go!"

"He cried last night," said Celeste Moitinho of her eight-year-old son Justin. "We were all pretty sad."

"You get emotional, you get attached," agreed her husband Celso. "You see the way they carried themselves all season and playoffs. It's disappointing not to win it all."

Sens fan Tammy Farina cut out of work early and kept her son Dillon Bordeleau, 11, and his friend Dalan Christensen, also 11, out of school to come out and show their colours.

"They didn't go to school today because they were home making these signs," said Farina, showing off red and gold placards declaring, "I'm proud of my Sens," and "U R Still R Boyz!"

"It doesn't matter," said Bordeleau. "We're still gonna win the Cup next year."

Employees from Scotiabank Place met fans at the entrance gates to dole out leftover pom-poms that would have otherwise gone to Game 6 ticketholders.

"We figured, we've got them, so we might as well hand them out," said Jen Paterson, 22, an employee with the arena's marketing division.

"Take as many as you need," she said to eager fans, grappling through oversized boxes for a mittful of red tinsel.

The Alta Vista Social Club set up microphones and entertained fans with a rendition of their Sens-themed song Long Way Home.

"The whole idea of the song is that it takes years and years to get there," said guitarist James Clugston. "There's always tomorrow. It's gonna take at least another year, but we'll get there."

Fans did the wave as the anticipation reached a fever pitch before finally erupting as players stepped off the charter and into a raucous sea of red.

BEARDS SHORN

Playoff beards freshly shorn, players drove by waving and smiling at adoring fans. Always one to stand out in a crowd, goaltender Ray Emery revved up the engine on his sparkling orange Lamborghini to an uproarious cheer.

The last to leave -- to chants of his name in what has become a familiar refrain for Sens fans in these playoffs -- was Daniel Alfredsson.

The captain rolled down the windows of his silver Audi and gave the thumbs-up as fans cheered him into the sunset.


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