Friday, December 11, 2009
Daniel Alfredsson, who was born on this date in 1972 and not drafted until the sixth round, 133rd overall, made his NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators at the start of the 1995-96 season, one of dramatic change for the Senators.
Up until that point the expansion Senators last overall (and 29 points behind the other first year club, the Tampa Bay Lightning), last by 20 points, and last yet again by 12 points in the lockout-shortened 48 game season.
Prior to the start of the season, Brian Smith, a former professional player with the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota North Stars and and Houston Aeros of the WHA, who was now working as a TV sports anchor was on his way to a charity fund-raising event when he left the station and encountered an escaped mental patient who had gone to the TV station because he thought the station was broadcasting messages in his head. Smith was the first broadcast personality the madman recognized, who shot and killed Smith. The Senators honored Smith by wearing the Smitty 18 patch on their jerseys for that season. As a result of the killing, Brian's Law was passed to make it easier to commit allegedly dangerous patients.
More changes were in store for the Senators, as they got off to a good start with a 6-5-0 record, only to lose their next eight games, which resulted in head coach Rick Bowness being let go in November, replaced by Dave Allison.
In the midst of a 2-22-1 stretch under head coach Allison, general manager Randy Sexton was let go, replaced by Pierre Gauthier.
The 2-22-1 catastrophe would cost Allison his job after only 25 games, and he would then be replaced as head coach by Jacques Martin in January, the Senators third head coach of the season. The club would finish the year 10-24-4 under Martin.
One change in January for the Senators was a positive one, as the moved into their new home, the 19,153 seat Palladium, since renamed the Corel Centre and currently Scotiabank Place, which replaced the Ottawa Civic Centre, which held only 10,585.
There were also numerous changes in team personnel, as Martin Straka, Jaroslav Modry, Steve Duchesne, Tom Chorske, Damian Rhodes and Wade Redden all arrived in trades, as Craig Billington, Don Beaupre, prospect Bryan Berard and both Martin Straka and Jaroslav Modry were all dealt before season's end.
Despite the losses, turnover and turmoil there were three notable bright spots for the Senators, with the move to their brand new arena, the arrival of Jacques Martin, who would provide some much needed stability as he would coach the Senators for nine seasons and the arrival of future team captain Daniel Alfredsson, who would lead the team in goals, assists and scoring with 61 points, 22 more than the next closest teammate, playing in the NHL All-Star Game and win the Calder Trophy.
While the Senators would finish last yet again in 1995-96, key pieces had now arrived and the Senators would not only climb out of the basement with a 36 point improvement in 1996-97, but qualify for the playoffs for the first time ever beginning a run of 11 playoff seasons in a row.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1995-96 Ottawa Senators Daniel Alfredsson jersey, as worn by Alfredsson during his Calder Trophy winning rookie season. This jersey features the Brian "Smitty" Smith Memorial patch worn by the Senators that season.
This style of jersey was first used by the Senators in their inaugural season with black in between the red arm stripes and red numbers with white trim. They changed the numbers to white with red trim for greater visibility for the next two seasons before arriving at this jersey in 1995-96 when the area between the red arm stripes was changed to white, a white waist stripe was added above the newly lowered red waist stripe and the sleeve numbers were changed to three color white numbers for two seasons. The final change to the jersey was rotating the sleeve numbers color to black for the final two seasons of the jersey until it was replaced as the primary home jersey by the red alternate introduced in 1997-98.
Today's first video is a look at Alfredsson, the long-time captain of the Senators.
Next, the Ottawa Senators draft Bryan Berard first overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. Berard would be dealt away before ever playing a game for the Senators after informing them he would not report to the Senators, despite the commentary in the video.