Category Archives: Custom Anaheim Ducks Jerseys

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Stu Grimson’s new autobiography is aptly called The Grim Reaper, but the book’s subtitle — The life and career of a reluctant warrior — rounds out the picture of the infamous NHL enforcer.

Grimson was a handful, a heavyweight who knew exactly how to flatten a foe in as few punches as necessary. But he’s now conflicted about that role — and much more proud of his leadership in the locker room and on the bench.

The fact that Grimson liked using his brain more than his knuckles became obvious once he received his law degree and started negotiating in NHL labour disputes.

Anastasia Bucsis, host of CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice podcast, gets the NHL veteran talking about the main preoccupations of a heavyweight during the height of the enforcer years.

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Since the inaugural 1993 season, we’ve seen the Anaheim Ducks score thousands of goals. Today, we’re going to relive five of the greatest goals in franchise history. These aren’t necessarily the greatest shots ever, but rather some of the most important and more memorable in the Duck’s 25-year history.

5. The Game That Would Not End — Petr Sykora

During the 2003 Stanley Cup run, the Mighty Ducks faced the Dallas Stars in the second round of the playoffs. In the very first game of the series, the Mighty Ducks and Stars battled to a 3-3 tie which forced overtime. Overtime would last a whole game and a half. Finally, 47 seconds into the 5th OT period Petr Sykora would pick up a feed from the corner and score the game-winning goal for the Mighty Ducks and end the longest game in Anaheim Ducks history.

4. Ducks Sweep the Wings — Steve Rucchin

“Here’s Rucchin, Steve Rucchin a little room. Rucchin a shot. Save made Joseph, rebound not centered. In front, Rucchin. SCORE! SCORES! The Mighty Ducks have knocked off the defending Stanley Cup Champions!” That was a call by the illustrious voice of Gary Thorne.

This goal, from Steve Rucchin, was the series-sweeping goal that knocked out the Red Wings in the first round and gave the Ducks a huge shot of momentum as they would go on their seemingly magical run all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals vs the New Jersey Devils. This moment doesn’t quite receive the love and admiration it truly deserves, but that’s because it’s overshadowed by one particular goal that happened that same postseason.

3. Off the Floor, On the Board — Paul Kariya

You knew it was coming. In the second period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Paul Kariya took a massive hit from New Jersey Devils captain Scott Stevens. Many of us thought he was done for the series. With less than 3 minutes to go in the period, Paul would make his return to the game.

Kariya would turn on the jets and unleash a powerful slapshot that blew right by Martin Brodeur. Recently during an interview, we learned that the hit made Kariya blackout and he has gone on record saying he has no recollection of anything beyond the hit. He doesn’t remember the goal or Game 7. Now I know what you’re gonna say, “why is this not number one?” We’ve still got two more, so hear me out.

2. Game 7 Curse Breaker — Nick Ritchie

Now I don’t want to remind you all of the past Game 7 failures and I won’t. However, I will say, this goal was big on so many levels. At this point, the Anaheim Ducks had a bad habit of losing home Game 7’s. Admittedly and with good reason I was really nervous for this Game 7 but this one felt different I just couldn’t put my finger on why though.

Edmonton scored first, and as they do I’m thinking, “here we go again.” Then, Andrew Cogliano, of all people, tied the game shortly after. It’s 1-1, and like all of you, I’m on the edge of my seat. I’m nervous. Then it happened. Nick Ritchie broke the tie. Everybody who knows me knows that I’m not a fan of Nick Ritchie but on this night he came up huge and broke the Game 7 curse.

1. The Goal that brought the Stanley Cup to Anaheim — Travis Moen

Raise your hand if you imagined the Anaheim Ducks winning the Stanley Cup off an own-goal by the opposing team. During a routine puck pick up behind the net, Senators defenseman Chris Phillips loses control of the puck and hits Ray Emery‘s skate and slides beyond the line and into the net.

Travis Moen dumped the puck into the Senators and was the last Duck to touch the puck before it went in. The Senators would score one more goal making it 3-2 and Ducks would go on to add to their lead with goals by Francois Beauchemin, Travis Moen, and Corey Perry and the rest is history. No, this one isn’t the greatest or the flashiest one in team history but it is the one that won Anaheim and California it’s first Stanley Cup.

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The Detroit Red Wings are nearly halfway through their third season of play at the new Little Caesars Arena, but the venue isn’t complete.

Sergei Fedorov’s famous number 91 needs to be raised to the rafters.

The Red Wings seemingly adopted Fedorov when they helped him secretly defect from the Soviet Union in 1990. For the better part of a decade, Fedorov went on to become among the most dynamic, explosive, and exciting players not only to don the Winged Wheel but in the entire National Hockey League.

He won the 1994 Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player as well as the Selke Trophy in 1994 and 1996 as the NHL’s best defensive forward. During his entire Red Wings career, he scored 400 goals – many of which will forever remain on NHL highlight reels. Fedorov also received praise from figures such as Wayne Gretzky, who stated: “I have never seen a player dominate the game the way Sergei did.”

Of course, Fedorov was also an integral part of three Stanley Cup champion winning teams in 1997, 1998, and 2002.

The alleged theories as to why his number isn’t officially and permanently enshrined in team history are well known. The first instance goes back to Fedorov’s infamous signing of a heavy front-loaded offer sheet from the Carolina Hurricanes, who are run by Peter Karmanos – a bitter business adversary of the late Mike Ilitch. What better way to stick it to your rival by poaching one of his best players?

The Red Wings reluctantly matched Carolina’s offer, and were forced to pay Fedorov a total of $28 million (most of which were bonuses) for the 1997-98 season alone.

Secondly was the well-publicized ultimate divorce from the Red Wings, leaving to sign a free-agent deal with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the summer of 2003 (who had just swept Detroit from the playoffs months earlier) for less money than he was offered by Detroit. The bolt left a bitter taste in the mouths of fans, and they mercilessly booed Fedorov upon his return to Detroit with the Mighty Ducks in December of 2003.

All of this, however, occurred well over a decade ago. Fans seemed to have softened their stance on Fedorov, whom they adored and then viewed as a modern-day Benedict Arnold.

Fedorov was warmly received by the fans during the 2014 Winter Classic Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park that preceded the Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. Additionally, he was given a standing ovation when he dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff in November of 2015 at Joe Louis Arena shortly after his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He also admitted that while he’d feel honored to have his number retired, he’s still going to look back fondly at his memories with the team no matter what.

“I don’t want to put any pressure. It’s going to be a great honor if it happens,” Fedorov said. “If it’s not, it’s still (an honor) to be a part of it for 13 seasons here, three Cups and celebrations, rallies, victory rallies. What else can you wish for?”

The Detroit Pistons did the right thing and looked past the bitter departure of defensive star Ben Wallace to the Chicago Bulls in 2006, retiring his No. 3 permanently in 2003. There’s absolutely no reason why the Red Wings can’t do the same with Fedorov, whose accolades far outweigh what Wallace brought to Detroit.

When you think of all-time Red Wings greats, Sergei Fedorov is right there with Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Gordie Howe, and Ted Lindsay amongst others. Number 91 needs to be right next to numbers 1 (Terry Sawchuck), 5 (Lidstrom), 7 (Lindsay), 9 (Howe), 10 (Alex Delvecchio) 12 (Sid Abel), and 19 (Yzerman).

It’s time to let bygones be bygones. It’s impossible to ignore the legacy of Fedorov and the undeniable accomplishments that were as much a part of the Red Wings success as anyone’s.

Little Caesars Arena won’t be fully finished without the extra detail of another retired number taking its rightful place in the rafters.

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A lot has happened to the Preds in this past decade. At this time ten years ago, the team had never won a playoff series, Pekka Rinne had only been the full-time starting goalie for about ten months, and we still had hope that Alexander Radulov might return to lead Smashville to the promised land.

Another thing that happened in this decade? David Poile earned a reputation as a G.M. willing to make some WILD trades.

Big Trade Dave, as he’s known (by me), made a couple of moves that raised eyebrows across the league. And to his credit, a lot of them paid off.

So today, we’ll look back at Poile’s five best deals of the decade. (Don’t worry, misery lovers, we’ll cover the five worst a little later on).

Sergei Kostitsyn has somewhat of a weird reputation around Smashville nowadays (you know why…). But you can’t deny getting a 50-point guy for a seldom-used role player and a backup goaltender is a pretty good steal.

SK47 had 23 goals and 27 assists in his first year with the Predators, and was a key piece of the puzzle that helped Nashville beat Anaheim. He followed that up with a 43-point season in 2011-2012, providing some depth on what became the Preds’ best season since the Paul Kariya era.

Plus, he never got himself suspended for violating team rules during a playoff series, UNLIKE HIS BROTHER….

The Lightning were in the middle of a rebuild, and were in desperate need of a franchise goaltender. GM Steve Yzerman believed Lindback, who had spent the previous two seasons as Pekka Rinne’s protege, could be the answer.

That didn’t exactly work out. Lindback only wound up playing a total of 47 games in two years with Tampa before being released.

Luckily, us Preds fans got to wallow in their sorrow, because the package of draft picks the Preds got in return was fairly lit. Sissons is a reliable two-way forward who’s now locked into the team’s bottom six for the next seven years. He’s coming off a career-best season points wise, and as of this writing, is on pace to top last year’s 15 goals and 30 points.

Aberg never developed into the electric player the Preds envisioned, but he still has a big role in team folklore. He had the game-winning goal in Game 5 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals (which sent the Preds home with a 3-2 series lead), then assisted on two of the aforementioned Sissons’s three goals in the deciding Game 6.

Fun fact: the Lightning drafted Andrei Vasilevskiy in the first round a week after this trade. So technically, they spent three first or second round picks on goaltenders in 2012. Lol.

The fact that Calle Jarnkrok is the Preds’ co-leader in goals this season makes this entry look even better than it already did.

Legwand, 33 at the time, was in the last year of his deal, and with the Preds in rebuild mode, he was put on the market to bring back younger pieces. One of those pieces wound up being Jarnkrok, a former second rounder who had drastically fallen down the depth chart of Detroit prospects.

Jarnkrok immediately impressed in his initial stint with the Preds, collecting 9 points (2 G, 7 A) in his first 12 games. Since then, he’s developed into one of the team’s best defensive forwards, and a reliable source of depth scoring. Not to mention he’s playing on one of the best bargain contracts in the league.

Legwand, meanwhile, had a decent run in Detroit, but struggled the next couple of seasons, and retired in 2016.

No one got “fleeced.” No player wound up grossly out-performing their counterpart…

These were just two good, bold hockey trades that worked out for everyone involved.

It’s hard to differentiate between these two trades. Not just because they happened around the same time and they were both 1-for-1 deals. But the principle behind them is the same. David Poile was willing to make a bold risk to help the team take their next step forward. And both paid off.

In Johansen, the Predators finally got the #1 playmaking center they had desperately craved since Jason Arnott was traded away five years earlier. Columbus, meanwhile, got the 25-minute-a-night franchise defenseman they had yet to develop in the course of their team’s history.

We saw the same thing happen (albeit on a much more surprising scale) six months later, when the Predators sent captain Shea Weber to Montreal to get Subban. Both are tremendous defensemen and will each retire as two of the all-time greats. But Subban fit in just a bit better with Laviolette’s mobile, puck possession-based defensive system. I mean sure, Subban was traded for cap space three years later. But obviously… *gestures towards Western Conference Championship banner…* the trade served its purpose.

In today’s NHL, we see too many teams afraid to “rock the boat” too much. Perhaps it’s fear of backlash if the deal doesn’t work out, or fear of messing with chemistry in the locker room. It’s why players like Erik Karlsson or Phil Kessel are swapped for packages of prospects, draft picks, and younger guys who still have years to go in their development.

Poile said “nah, forget that,” and rolled the dice on two big deals that helped the Preds become one of the league’s most dangerous teams.

Clark, it’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole decade…

Yeah, I know. We all the know this story by now. The Capitals wanted some extra scoring support for Ovechkin at the 2013 trade deadline. They were so certain Martin Erat was the missing piece of the Cup puzzle (to be fair, he WAS coming off a 58-point season) that they were willing to part with their 11th overall pick in the prior draft, Filip Forsberg.

Forsberg, of course, has scored at least 26 goals in every full season he’s been with the Preds, and barring something catastrophic, will easily hit that mark again this season. Statistically, he’s become one of the league’s best forwards at creating offensive chances, and has had instant chemistry with any set of teammates he’s been grouped with.

Erat… um… didn’t exactly work out in Washington.

His tenure started with an injury during his debut game, and never had the chance to develop a fit with any of the Caps’ big guns. He scored just 2 goals in 62 games with the team before being shipped to the Coyotes at the deadline. He had another lackluster season before returning to Europe in 2015.

It’s one of the most lopsided deals in league history, and since that’s already been discussed in depth several times, we won’t pile on. We’ll just call it the Preds’ best trade of the decade.

We will… however… leave with you this gem.

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HARTFORD — Phil Di Guiseppe broke a scoreless tie with a power-play goal early in the second period and Igor Shesterkin stopped 31 shots as the Hartford Wolf Pack defeated the Providence Bruins, 3-0, on Saturday night at the XL Center.

Max Lagace stopped 18 shots for the P-Bruins but saw his record fall to 13-4-2. Shesterkin is now 12-4-3.

It was the second straight shutout loss for Providence, which was defeated, 1-0, by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night.

“It was certainly a frustrating night for us,” P-Bruins coach Jay Leach said. “The first period, we weren’t where we wanted to be. Second and third periods, we really started to push but we just couldn’t get it past their goaltender. They obviously had a couple of timely goals themselves and that’s what led to the defeat.”

The Wolf Pack added a pair of goals in the third period to ice the outcome. Vitali Kravtsov got his first of the season early in the period and Matt Beleskey, the former Bruin and P-Bruin, got an empty-netter with 2:49 left.

The only good news to come out of the game was the return of Zach Senyshyn. The forward had suffered a lower-body injury while he was playing for Boston. He recorded a team-high five shots on goal on Saturday night.

“I felt great to be back,” he said. “I definitely miss playing with these guys. Obviously not the way we wanted to end it going into Christmas, but I love our team and think we have a really good second half coming up. ”

The P-Bruins are now off until Friday, when they will travel to Springfield to take on the Thunderbirds at 7 p.m.

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The Los Angeles Kings will honor retired defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky at Tuesday evening’s game against the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center as part of their Legends Series.

Visnovsky played 499 regular-season games and 12 Stanley Cup playoff games with the Kings from 2000-08, part of a 14-season NHL career which also included time with the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and New York Islanders.

Visnovsky was selected to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2001 after leading rookie defensemen in scoring with 39 points. He was chosen as the team’s MVP in the 2005-06 season, when he became the only defenseman to lead the Kings in scoring.

Visnovsky was the team’s top defenseman three times and played in the 2007 NHL All-Star Game.

Visnovsky played for his native Slovakia in the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, helping it to a fourth-place finish in 2010. He was also part of the Slovakian teams that won a gold medal at the 2002 world championship, the silver medal in 2000 and bronze medal in 2003.

The game is also the second in the Kings’ four-game toy drive. Fans bringing an unwrapped gift to any Staples Center entrance before the game will receive a raffle ticket to be entered in a drawing for a pair of tickets to the Kings Jan. 10 game against the Ottawa Senators.

Toys collected during the drive will benefit such organizations as Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the Children’s Burn Foundation, After School All Stars and Professional Child Development Associates.

The toy drive will also be held at games Thursday against the New Jersey Devils and Saturday against the Vegas Golden Knights.

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The Dallas Stars went backward again last night, turning in their worst performance of the season in a lopsided loss to a divisional rival.

Stars senior staff writer Mike Heika loves his pop-culture analogies. Stranger Things was on his mind as the Stars continued another deep dive into the Upside Down:

Tuesday was everything this team doesn’t want to be. They were disorganized, individualistic and maybe even a little scared. They flopped and floundered and basically chased the Winnipeg Jets around the ice in a 5-1 loss at Bell MTS Place. It was a horror show, and that’s saying something when you consider some of the games during the 1-7-1 opening slump.

“That was our worst game of the year. We never responded throughout the game,” said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. “I thought the Jets were ready to go. I thought they were really good, and they were better than us in every facet of the game.”

Aside from some exceptional netminding by Anton Khudobin, the Stars failed their identity all the way around, as none other than Corey Perry noted:

“I just don’t think we were ready to play,” he added. “We were slow executing, we were slow moving the puck. If you play slow in this league, teams jump all over you. Our game is playing quick and jumping on other teams and making them chase us. We didn’t have that tonight.”

There’s more at Mike’s place.

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Someone get Thomas Chabot some oxygen, plenty of fluids and, for heaven’s sake, let the man rest today.

In Wednesday night’s outing against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 22-year-old Ottawa Senators blueliner accomplished a rare feat, one to which only one other rearguard in NHL history can lay claim: Chabot skated more than 37 minutes in a single regular season contest. In the interest of accuracy, his exact total was 37:50, which is the second-highest single-game ice time according to the NHL’s records. Making the minute-munching outing all the more impressive is that it happened to come in the second half of a back-to-back, one night after Chabot skated upwards of 22 minutes against the Florida Panthers. That’s more than one hour of ice time in two days. Talk about an exhausting road trip.

Of course, throwing Chabot over the boards that often wasn’t so much by design as it was by necessity for the Senators. Ottawa was hamstrung on the backend entering the contest, without defensemen Nikita Zaitsev and Dylan DeMelo, and coach D.J. Smith indicated in his post-game comments that the Senators needed to lean on Chabot given how thin they were on the blueline. It’s evident exactly how thin Smith felt his defense corps was, too, given Erik Brannstrom (18:12), Cody Goloubef (10:09) and Andreas Englund (7:27) combined for fewer minutes than Chabot skated in the outing. In fact, the only Ottawa defender to have an ice time even close to Chabot’s – that’s very liberal use of the word “close” – was Ron Hainsey, who skated 26:12 in the Senators’ 4-3 overtime loss.

But Chabot’s marathon outing got us wondering: what are the highest single-game ice time totals of all-time?

Well, turns out we can’t actually know and “all-time” is something of a misnomer as it pertains to Chabot’s accomplishment. The NHL has only kept thorough ice time statistics since the beginning of the 1997-98 season. As a result, the record books don’t take into account any big-minute games that occurred before that campaign. Thus, we can’t know if the likes of Bobby Orr or Paul Coffey or Denis Potvin or Ray Bourque ever exceeded the single-game ice times listed below. And, hey, chances are one of the four may have, particularly during their primes.

That said, since the NHL began keeping track of the statistic, here are the highest single-game ice times by any player:

10. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings – 35:31 (Nov. 7, 2017)
Chalk this one up to then-Kings coach John Stevens’ delegation of minutes once Kurtis MacDermid was booted from the contest for an ugly hit that injured Anaheim Ducks winger Ondrej Kase. While much of the Los Angeles blueline played regular minutes – four were above 19 minutes in the outing – Stevens basically heaped all of MacDermid’s minutes on Doughty, meaning the star defender split his time between the first pairing and the third pairing, skating the latter shifts alongside Oscar Fantenberg.

9. Marco Scandella, Minnesota Wild – 35:32 (April 5, 2012)
Doughty is a name that’s not all that surprising to find on this list. Scandella, though? That’s a little out of left field. But the situation facing the then-Minnesota blueliner on that fateful night was much like the one that led to Chabot’s outing. The Wild defense corps was depleted, so much so that Scandella was actually one of two Minnesota blueliners to eclipse the 30-minute mark. Care to guess the other? The answer is Tom Gilbert, who is currently plying his trade in the German League. Justin Falk, who split his time between the AHL and NHL in the Senators organization last season, skated 26-plus minutes, too.

8. T.J. Brodie, Calgary Flames – 35:42 (Jan. 18, 2014)
Note the date and keep it in mind. It’s going to come up again.

7. Chris Pronger, Anaheim Ducks – 35:43 (March 11, 2009)
An interesting note about this one: of the 10-highest seasonal average ice times, four occurred before the 2010-11 campaign, yet Pronger’s nearly 36-minute outing is the only single-game ice time that predates the current decade. Like the others, Pronger’s ice time was circumstantial. In this case, the circumstance was that he was glued to the ice on the power play. He skated more than 10 minutes on the power play and, if you include the seven-plus minutes spent on the penalty kill, Pronger actually played less than 20 minutes at even strength.

6. Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild – 36:00 (Nov. 13, 2013)
Only three times in recorded NHL history has a player averaged an ice time greater than 29 minutes per game across an entire season. Two of those campaigns belong to Ryan Suter, including the record seasonal high of 29:25 per game. That came during the 2013-14 campaign to which this 36-minute contest belongs. An undermanned blueline was part of the equation here, as well, as Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser combined for roughly 19 minutes.

5. Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks – 36:12 (Jan. 18, 2014)
Again, note the date. We’ll get to this in a second.

4. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators – 36:34 (Dec. 20, 2015)
This was the Senators record until Chabot came along and blew it out of the water. Coincidentally, Karlsson’s 36:34 came against the Lightning. Funny how that works. Karlsson’s big game is similar to Doughty’s in that it was the result of minutes being foisted upon the then-Senators star rearguard in the wake of Mark Borowiecki’s ejection less than two minutes into the contest. Add to it that Cody Ceci left the game with an injury and it created the perfect storm for Karlsson to log big minutes.

3. Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild – 36:51 (Nov. 7, 2013)
Keen observers will note than Suter’s career-high ice time came less than one week before he logged a second 36-minute game, which makes him the only player in NHL history with two outings of 36 minutes or more. This contest was much the same story as the game one week later, too. Suter was leaned on hard given how thin the Wild blueline was at the time. In this one, Prosser and Stoner combined for a mere 16:22.

2. Thomas Chabot, Ottawa Senators – 37:50 (Dec. 17, 2019)
Incredible about Chabot’s outing, and something that is not mentioned above, is that he didn’t skate a single second on the penalty kill and played only 4:50 on the power play. Contrast that with Pronger’s game that falls on this list and you can understand how impressive that is. But not only is it impressive, it also means Chabot holds one ice time record: most even-strength minutes played in a regular season game. He skated 33 minutes with the teams at even strength, nearly a full two minutes more than Brodie, who appears eighth on this list. He skated 31:01 at evens in that January 2014 affair.

1. Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames – 38:05 (Jan. 18, 2014)
All right, let’s get into it. There are three defenders who appear on this list from this exact game. The reason? This is the infamous Calgary-Vancouver opening-faceoff brawl game. You remember the one. The two teams combined for 204 penalty minutes, eight players were handed game misconducts two seconds into the contest and four of those players were defensemen. That resulted in all four defensemen on each team skating upwards of 20 minutes and five of the eight playing upwards of 30 minutes. Mix in the special teams time for the defenders and Brodie, Hamhuis and Wideman all saw ice time totals the likes of which they hadn’t since their junior days.

As far as Wideman is concerned, though, some might be wondering how he exceeded Mark Giordano’s ice time. And the answer to that is pretty simple. Giordano paraded to the box, committing four infractions overall, including three consecutive minor penalties in the third period. That opened the door for Wideman to earn extra ice time and then-coach Bob Hartley kept on trotting the defenseman out. To this day, Wideman remains the only player to exceed 38 minutes in a regular season game.

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A franchise re-born in 1992, the Senators came of age by 2000, posting 100 points or more five different times in the decade from 2001-2010 and missing the playoffs just once (2009). To this day, fans will argue which was the best Senators team of all time, the 2002-03 squad that lost to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Final, the 2006-07 team that reached the Stanley Cup Final, or the 2005-06 edition that might have reached glory if not for an injury to goaltender Dominik Hasek.

Sadly, we are not discussing that decade, but the one that followed, a decade that featured two major roster rebuilds for a franchise that missed the post-season five times and is expected to make it six by the spring of 2020.

Still, amid a general downtrend in on-ice performance, there were celebrated players and special moments. Here are three that stand out:

1. Daniel Alfredsson retires as a Senator

Fans in Ottawa were disheartened to see their beloved captain leave the franchise in 2013 to finish out his playing career with the Detroit Red Wings.

So there was joy in the Capital when the man known as “Alfie” returned on Dec. 4, 2014 to be a “Senator for a day,” signing a one-day contract in order to officially retire from the NHL as a member of the Senators. Under the guidance of general manager Bryan Murray, the Senators had fun with this moment, having Alfredsson suit up for the pre-game warmup with a dramatic on-ice entry through a receiving line of Ottawa teammates.

While No. 11 skated as though a member of the active roster again, fans chanted, “Alfie!! Alfie!! and the Alfredsson goal song, U2’s Beautiful Day, resounded through a packed arena. Alfie played it up to the hilt, participating in warmup drills and stretching off to one side with his leadership pals, Chris Phillips, Erik Karlsson and Chris Neil, as was his habit.

He took one final lap, under a spotlight and skated over to centre ice where his family was waiting for him, wife Bibbi and their four sons, Hugo, Loui, Fenix and William. At that moment, Alfie held the entire building in the palm of his hand.

“Thank you for all the great times and all the beautiful memories,” Alfredsson told the crowd. “They will connect us to all of you, forever.”

As a partnership moment to Alfredsson’s retirement, on Dec. 29, 2016, Alfredsson’s No. 11 was officially retired during an emotional ceremony at the Canadian Tire Centre.

2. Playoff run 2017

File this one under the Pleasant Surprise category. Not much was expected of a 2016-17 Senators team that had finished out of the playoffs with 85 points the previous year.

But a lot of things went right for Ottawa, including one of the finest seasons in the career of goaltender Craig Anderson, who posted a 2.28 goals-against average and .926 save percentage during the regular season before back-stopping the Senators stunning playoff run to the Eastern Conference Final.

In series wins over the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, a host of players took turns as playoff heroes, including Bobby Ryan, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Kyle Turris, Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman and Dion Phaneuf.

Phaneuf, Ryan, Turris and Pageau all delivered overtime winners that spring and Pageau had a four-goal game in Game 2 versus the Rangers, including the clincher in extra time.

No one could have imagined the Senators extending the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference final, but they did — to double overtime in Game 7.

That goal, a soaring, distant, seeing-eye shot by Chris Kunitz, will go down in infamy in Ottawa along with the Game 7 conference final goal by Jeff Friesen of the New Jersey Devils in 2003.

“I think that we did everything we could in our power and at the end of the day it could’ve gone either way, but they did it for a little bit longer than we did and a little bit better,” Karlsson said after the Kunitz goal. “We played the best team in the league and we gave them a good match. As of right now, obviously, we’re very disappointed in the loss and getting so close, but still being so far away.”

Though the run was fun, there are those who wonder if the club would have been better off starting its rebuild sooner. In the fall of 2017, the Senators were still adding high-priced talent like Matt Duchene, only to reverse field and declare a sell-off in 2018, after missing the playoffs.

Between the spring of 2018 and the trade deadline of 2019, the Senators had parted with such elite talent as Karlsson, Hoffman, Mark Stone and Matt Duchene. By now, fans were looking to a future of bright new faces in the lineup.

3. NHL 100 Classic at TD Place

Ottawa’s outdoor game on Dec. 16, 2017 could not have had greater significance, sitting as it was at the junction of Canada’s 150th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the first NHL game played — between Ottawa and Montreal.

The anniversary game, Ottawa’s first as a modern outdoor host, didn’t disappoint. Some early Arctic weather – temperatures dipped into the low minus-20s with the wind chill – provided a classic Canadian hockey scene before 33,959 fans at TD Place, home to Ottawa’s CFL team. Balaclavas were popular and Mike Hoffman’s beard was frosty.

Despite a few numb fingers and toes, Bobby Ryan, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (a notorious Habs-killer) and Nate Thompson, into an empty net, scored for Ottawa in the 3-0 win.

“I think that’s the coldest I’ve ever been,” Ryan said. “The fans came out and made it a heck of a night by being loud and being engaged and when the home team gets two points and the city can rally around it for a great event it makes it all the better.

“It was worth every second of it. We had a blast.”

Ryan was right, the game was a testament to hockey fans in Ottawa. They not only braved the cold and the cost of tickets as high as $400, fans also endured ill-timed comments from franchise owner Eugene Melnyk. To the annoyance of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, in town for the occasion, Melnyk hinted at moving the franchise and that a planned move to LeBreton Flats near Parliament Hill was not a done deal. That part turned out to be prophetic as the proposed RendezVous LeBreton project was officially scrapped in 2019.

The outdoor game itself will live on as one of the franchise’s iconic moments.

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A leading shadow minister has blamed broadcasters such as the BBC for allowing Jeremy Corbyn to be “demonised and vilified” during the election campaign, as the party struggled to come to terms with the scale of its defeat.

Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, who was one of the most interviewed Labour frontbenchers in the media during the campaign, said the unfairness of the BBC and other broadcasters should make people “worry about our democratic processes”.

The argument over how central Corbyn was to the election loss is set to play a crucial role in the race to become the next Labour leader, a process the party has already begun with a new incumbent set to be elected by the end of March.
Boris Johnson threatens BBC with two-pronged attack
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In a sometimes angry interview on BBC Radio 5, McDonald said that in Corbyn’s treatment by the media he had “never in my lifetime known any single individual so demonised and vilified, so grotesquely and so unfairly”.

Saying the Labour leader had been “vilified as an antisemite” and compared to Stalin, McDonald said the scale of the attacks had been broader than normal. “We know we’ve got the forces of the establishment, the elite, against us.

“We’ve always had the print media, which is page after page after page of press barons absolutely destroying and vilifying Labour leaders from time immemorial. What’s changed in this election is the way the broadcast media have joined in with that battle.

“And you know that we have a catalogue of complaints against our public service broadcaster, our precious BBC, which I’m afraid has been brought into the fray.”

Insisting the Labour manifesto and position on Brexit had gone down well with voters when he had been able to explain them in person, McDonald said he had “never, ever seen such a stacked deck in British politics”.

He said: “I think it causes us to worry about our democratic processes. We know how powerful the Tory elite is, and they have flexed their muscles to great effect during this election.”

Referring to rows within Labour, such as disagreement over Brexit between the ex-MP Caroline Flint and the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, McDonald called for “a period of calm”.

He said: “We need some real reflection, we need to examine what we have done, and be open to internal discussion and criticism, based in fact, not in this business we’ve had to deal with over the past several years.”

Also speaking on Monday, two leading backbenchers, Alison McGovern and Stephen Kinnock, both said they believed the next Labour leader should be a woman.

In a separate interview, the Conservative MP Nigel Evans said Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, seen as the chosen pick of the Corbyn wing of the party, would be the candidate the Tories would most like to see take over.

McGovern, the Wirral South MP, said the leadership debate “can’t just be about how bad the Tories are”. She told BBC One’s Breakfast programme: “We’ve got to get the right question. For me that’s about who has got the right ideas.”

She added: “I would like the Labour party to elect a woman as its leader. I think we need to show that we understand that women have every capacity to lead our country.”

Appearing on the same programme, Kinnock, the MP for Aberavon, said it would be “excellent if the next leader were to be a woman”.

He said the priorities should be credibility on national security, a commitment to localism and a credible economic plan. He said: “You can’t have a manifesto which is a Christmas wishlist.”

A series of female Labour MPs are deciding whether to seek the leadership, including Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Angela Rayner, Yvette Cooper and Thornberry. Although she has not formally said she will enter, Long-Bailey is the favourite due to the endorsement from the Corbynite wing of the party.

Speaking on Sky News, Evans, the veteran Tory backbencher, said Long-Bailey would be the Labour leader his party would worry about the least.

“She would be seen as cast as the same sort of person as Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. Anyone from the Momentum wing or the extreme left wing of the Labour party would be a big mistake for them,” he said.