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Expansion Senators team will 'always share a bond'

Twenty years later, Marsh maintains fond memories of Ottawa's return to the NHL

Monday, 10.10.2011 / 3:41 PM ET / Sens 20th anniversary
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
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Expansion Senators team will \'always share a bond\'

Brad Marsh thinks back to the night it all started and can't believe it's been that long.

"You still think of it as a new franchise," said Marsh, who closed out a 15-year National Hockey League career as a member of the Ottawa Senators expansion entry in 1992-93. "It does not seem like 20 years."

Two decades later, the Senators are indeed celebrating the 20th anniversary of their return to the NHL after a 58-year absence. And the party kicks off in earnest Tuesday night, when Ottawa plays host to the Minnesota Wild (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200) in its 2011-12 home-opener.

Fewer than 500 tickets remain for the game.

It's also an evening in which the team that got it all started receives a curtain call as a tribute to the special place it still holds in modern Senators franchise history. On Oct. 8, 1992, that first squad beat the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens 5-3 in front a delirious, packed house at the Ottawa Civic Centre. The nation's capital, it might be said, has never been the same since that historic evening.

Never mind that the first Senators team would win a mere 10 of 84 contests that season — just one of them on the road. The game that is the country's passion was back in a back way and that's all that seemed to matter at the time.

"The main thing, in looking back, is there were really no expectations that we would be competitive ... it was such a mish-mash of guys," said Marsh, who'd played previously with the Atlanta/Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings before landing in Ottawa. "Everybody here was a true hockey fans, but we were a lot of fans' second team. People had been cheering for various other teams and players their whole lives and it was tough to change.

"But the underlying factor was people were so happy to have the NHL back that we were the talk of the town, despite our record."

Despite such an inglorious start, Marsh isn't surprised the Senators would become what they are today — in indelible part of the Ottawa community, both on an off the ice.

"Yes, simply because it's Canada and it's NHL hockey," Marsh said when asked it he confidence the Senators would succeed in a big way. "There was no doubt about it in anybody's mind, that it was going to become big news in the city."

While the Senators struggled badly on many nights during their first season, Marsh can still look back upon that time with fondness. That the wins were few and far between ... well, it wasn't for lack of trying.

"We had a great group of guys ... guys that had been up and down, guys that understood the game and the stuff that went on off the ice," he said. "Everybody that we had here had been there, done that, so nothing really fazed us. We were, in some ways, a competitive team, but we did not have the ability to compete against some of the other teams in the NHL.

"But we didn't take many nights off. That's what I remember. We didn't take many nights off and we gave it our damndest each and every game."

That one season in Ottawa had a life-changing impact on Marsh, a London, Ont., native who has called the city home since his retirement from the game. He is the longtime president of the Senators Alumni, a group of former team and NHL players from the area who are heavily involved in charitable initiatives in the capital region.

"We've done a ton of great work," Marsh says with pride. "Our guys are more than happy to represent the team in the community."

Over the next few days, the 53-year-old known as "Marshy" will savour the chance to turn back the clock to the beginning, when the Senators took their first steps toward gaining an important place in the city they call home.

"We always do share a bond," said Marsh, now a distributor with Visalus Sciences. "A lot of guys continued to play (after 1992-93), a lot of guys went into coaching and a lot of guys retired back to their hometown. There really hasn't been an opportunity to see much of the guys, let alone get back together as a group. So I think it's just great that we're getting a chance to get together."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
3 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
4 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
5 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
6 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
7 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
8 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 74 19 41 9 60
K. Turris 74 22 32 -1 54
B. Ryan 70 18 35 9 53
M. Stone 72 19 33 14 52
M. Hoffman 71 26 20 19 46
M. Zibanejad 72 19 24 2 43
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
C. MacArthur 54 13 14 -10 27
D. Legwand 72 9 18 2 27
A. Chiasson 68 11 15 -4 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Hammond 14 1 1 .938 1.92
C. Anderson 14 12 8 .923 2.48