Like the rest of the Senators blogosphere, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this afternoon's Ottawa Senators 20th Anniversay Launch at the Bell SensPlex.
The event itself took place within Stanley's Restaurant and at the door, I was pleasantly greeted by some Senators staff and handed a social media package. Amidst its contents was a 2011-12 Promotional Calendar (that can be downloaded here) and two pieces of paper containing some key Senators facts and details for the coming season.
Here are a few interesting particulars that are worthy of mentioning:
- Hashtag: #Sens20 is the Twitter hashtag that the Ottawa Senators will use throughout the season for all 20th Anniversary related activities. The organization wants its social media savvy fans to use this tag when discussing any future 20th Anniversary related news.
- Multi-media content relating to the 20th Anniversary can be accessed via www.ottawasenators.com/social . There you can 20th Anniversary logos, photos and the embedding code for the video that can be seen below.
- New motto for the season is apparently 'Hockey Makes Us'. Notice the stylized red 'O' below. I believe it lends credence and foreshadows the leaked heritage sweater that was shown on Icethetics.
- And speaking more on the Hockey Makes Us platform, the team will be launching a "Hockey Makes Us" online mosaic in early September. The process will involve asking fans to upload photos of their own memorable hockey moments.
- The team's pre-season games, opening night and three and five game packages will go on sale to the public on Tuesday, August 9th. The remaining regular season single-game tickets will be available for purchase on Monday, September 12th.
- The Senators will be launching a full multimedia history website in early September which will include a review of the original Senators, as well as full summaries of the last 20 years complete with statistics, highlights and a media gallery.
- According to the promotional calendar, the first heritage jersey night will be Thursday, October 13th versus the Colorado Avalanche.
The Press Conference Itself...
After perusing the information package from my seat, emcee Max Keeping kicked off the event - regaling the audience with his Ottawa Senators tie and what the organization has meant for the community. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson echoed that sentiment during a speech of his own before turning the podium over to Cyril Leeder.
The Senators' President announced that the heritage sweater would not be unveiled today and that it would be formally launched during the first week of October. In light of the week's other leak concerning the possibility of a new scoreboard, I was somewhat surprised that that issue was never formally addressed.
After Leeder paid homage to the late Frank Nighbor, a two-way center from the original Senators era not only won a Stanley Cup in 1920 who also captured the Hart and the Lady Byng trophies, I came to the realization that the organization is going to do everything within its power to honour its past. While I was disappointed that there was no mention of guys like Peluso or Loewen or Sidorkiewic, the reflection on players like Nighbor will hopefully do much to bring some more familiarity to a rich hockey history that some may not know too much about.
When discussing important games on the team's schedule, Leeder mentioned a "Welcome Back Jets" night scheduled for Thursday, October 20th and rare back-to-back home games against Montreal and Toronto on Friday, March 16th and Saturday, March 17th. Interestingly, Dany Heatley's name was brought up by Leeder when the President mentioned when single-game tickets will be available to the home opener.
Senators alumni and the first captain in the franchise's modern history Laurie Boschman was the next to take the stage. It was the first time I had seen him since watching him play during the inaugural 1992-93 season. The first immediate thought that came into my head was "Damn. Heatley wishes his game aged as well as Laurie Boschman."
Like Boschman before him, Daniel Alfredsson took the stage and described what the city of Ottawa means to him and how he was embraced by the populace. Pretty standard fare for the captain but the man looked fit and ready for the NHL season. (Note: Later to the traditional media scribes, he announced that he'd skate for the first time next week.)
After the Presser...
... I had the opportunity to stick around for a bit and talk to some individuals at length. Some I had met before but it was nice to finally meet the likes of Sens Chirp, Bruce Garrioch, Brian Morris, and Stuntman Stu.
I do have to say that the highlight of the post-presser involved me standing by myself watching some of the Senators players scrimmage with a few other NHLers and Pascal Leclaire from a window within Stanley's Restaurant. It wasn't too long before I overheard someone say from behind me, "Do you see any players out there that you like?"
I was "this close" to cracking a Leclaire joke when I realized that it was Cyril Leeder who had asked the question. Before I could say anything, he had his hand extended to introduce himself.
He didn't have to come over and strike up a conversation with some fan. But he did. It was a fantastic gesture and one that should not go unnoticed.
My thank you to the Senators organization for extending an invite to the event. I enjoyed my time. Hopefully there'll be more opportunities to attend events like this in the future.