2010–11 Ottawa Senators season

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2010–11 Ottawa Senators
Division 5th Northeast
Conference 13th Eastern
2010–11 record 32-40-10
Home record 16–20–5
Road record 16–20–5
Goals for 192
Goals against 250
 Team information
General Manager Bryan Murray
Coach Cory Clouston
Captain Daniel Alfredsson
Alternate captains Mike Fisher (Oct-Feb)
Chris Phillips
Rotating (Feb-Apr)
Arena Scotiabank Place
Average attendance 18,379 (95.9%) (after 41 dates)
Team leaders
Goals (21) Jason Spezza
Assists (36) Jason Spezza
Points (57) Jason Spezza
Penalties in minutes (210) Chris Neil
Plus/minus (+7) David Hale
Wins (13) Brian Elliott
Goals against average (2.05) Craig Anderson
<2009–10 2011–12>

The 2010–11 Ottawa Senators season was the 19th NHL season (18th season of play) for the modern Senators franchise.[1] The Senators posted a regular season record of 32 wins, 40 losses, and 10 overtime/shootout losses for 74 points, failing to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second time in three seasons. After falling to last place in the conference by the end of January, the Senators started a rebuild, trading away several veterans for draft choices. Coach Cory Clouston was fired at the end of the season.

Off-season[edit]

Early in the off-season, the Senators signed several players including summer development camp attendee Colin Greening on April 28 and Binghamton Senators forward Ryan Keller on May 19 as well as goaltender Mike Brodeur on May 26. After some media speculation, the Senators also bought out Jonathan Cheechoo's contract on June 29 after he cleared waivers, making Cheechoo a free agent.[2]

At the Entry Draft, the Senators traded their first-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for defenceman David Rundblad, who had been the Blues' first-round pick (17th-overall) in the 2009 Draft. Having now previously traded their first, second and fifth-round picks, the Senators picked Jakub Culek in the third round (76th-overall), Marcus Sorensen in the fourth round (106th-overall), Mark Stone in the sixth round (178th-overall), and Bryce Aneloski in the seventh round (196th-overall).

Throughout July, the Senators made various signings. On July 13, they signed Swiss forward and 2004 Senator draft pick Roman Wick to a one-year, entry-level contract, and re-signed Derek Smith to a one-year contract. On July 22, they re-signed forward Cody Bass to a one-year, two-way contract and forward Mike Hoffman to a one-year, entry-level contract.

Having fired their goaltending coach Eli Wilson in January, the Senators signed former goaltender Rick Wamsley as goaltending coach on July 27. His most recent job was interim head coach of the St. Louis Blues' AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen. He had at one time been Pascal Leclaire's goaltending coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets.[3]

On August 5, the Senators re-signed Binghamton defenceman Geoff Kinrade to a one-year, two-way contract as well as signing forward and local prospect Corey Cowick to an entry-level contract. Cowick was an assistant captain with Ottawa's OHL team the Ottawa 67's and was the Senators sixth-round pick at the 2009 Draft.

Free agents[edit]

The Senators entered the off-season with four restricted free agents (RFA): Chris Campoli, Nick Foligno, Peter Regin and Jesse Winchester. The team also had six unrestricted free agents (UFA): Matt Cullen and Andy Sutton acquired via late 2009–10 season trades; Shean Donovan and Anton Volchenkov, as well as Binghamton players Martin St. Pierre and Josh Hennessy.[4]

Of the four RFAs, all re-signed with the Senators. Winchester and Foligno each signed two-year deals on July 1 and July 21 respectively. Campoli and Regin both filed for arbitration, however, they each re-signed before it reached that point. Regin signed a two-year deal on July 29, while Campoli signed a one-year deal on July 30.

Of the six UFAs, none re-signed with the Senators. On July 1, the first day of free agency, Volchenkov signed with the New Jersey Devils while Cullen signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Wild.[5] On August 2, Sutton signed with the Anaheim Ducks in a two-year deal.[6] Donovan did not sign with any NHL team. St. Pierre and Hennessy both signed with teams overseas.

In terms of acquisitions, the Senators made a notable move in signing former Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Sergei Gonchar to a three-year deal in the first hours after the July 1 free agency deadline. Other free agency acquisitions include forward Corey Locke, defenceman and enforcer Francis Lessard, defenceman David Hale, and defenceman Andre Benoit.

Spezza trade speculation[edit]

In early June, an Ottawa Sun article reported that star centre Jason Spezza was "unhappy" and that there were "indications [he] may have asked for a trade."[7] Though purely speculation, the article prompted various other Ottawa sports media sources to issue their own perspectives. Theories ranged from conjuring up various trade rumours, noting the similarity to the previous year's Dany Heatley trade demand, or to suggesting that it was just "lazy rumor mongering."[8][9] Meanwhile, the Sun received criticism for its journalistic integrity to the point where they had to defend accusations that they were "anti-Spezza"[10][11] This did not stop speculation though, which was emboldened by silence both from Spezza and GM Bryan Murray.

Spezza finally broke the silence during his annual Celebrity Classic golf tournament on July 20:

I just want to clear up a lot of the talk going on, at no point did I ever demand a trade to Bryan Murray. At the end of the year, I was pretty emotional and upset. I was upset at losing, I was upset at the response I got. I talked to Bryan about it, I see it in the newspapers every year, they talk about me, and I said, if you want to move me, you can move me. I wanna be here, but if he thinks it's best for the team and the city, then he can move me. He told me he wasn't going to move me. To be honest I was happy about it, cause I like being here in Ottawa. It seems like every year it's been talk of "should I get traded, should I not get traded?" My priorities are here in Ottawa, I want to win in Ottawa. It was just a whole lot of hearsay that was going on. I had prior conversations with Bryan, I talked to [head coach] Cory [Clouston], we were all clear on what was going on.

—Jason Spezza, [12]

Further, he expressed regret that the issue had become public at all. "Me and Bryan have talked since then and probably our conversation should have stayed between us," he said. "We probably wouldn’t even be talking here today. But it happened and it’s a reality." His statement largely settled the rumour, apart from some minor speculation (again by Ottawa Sun columnists) that Spezza had in fact demanded a trade similar to Heatley.[13] However, sources confirmed with Spezza's team members that the situation was "not even close to the Dany situation."[14]

Pre-season[edit]

On June 18, the Senators announced that they would play eight pre-season games, which includes three home games, four road games, and one neutral site game. The Senators faced the Toronto Maple Leafs three times, and had home-and-home sets against the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers.[15] The Senators also played in the 2010 Kraft Hockeyville game in Dundas, Ontario, against the Buffalo Sabres. The game was played on September 28, 2010, at the J.L. Grightmire Market Street Arena.[16]

Regular season[edit]

The Senators' regular season schedule was announced on June 22, 2010. The Senators opened the season at home against the Buffalo Sabres on October 8, 2010. The Senators end the season on the road against the Bruins on April 9, 2011.[17]

The Senators goal for the season was to return to the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 seasons. Media predictions were mostly negative. The Hockey News predicted in their 2010-11 Yearbook that the Senators will finish tenth in the Conference, missing the playoffs.[18] The Hockey News writer Adam Proteau predicted the Senators will finish ninth in the conference.[19] The Las Vegas Hilton SportsBook set the odds at 40–1 that the Senators will win the Stanley Cup.[20]

Within a few days of each other, two of the Senators celebrated milestones in wins. On October 22, Daniel Alfredsson scored a hat trick to reach 1,000 points in his career in a win against the Buffalo Sabres. On October 26, Sergei Gonchar played in his 1,000th game in his career. The game saw the Senators set a new team record for fastest two goals. Erik Karlsson and Alexei Kovalev scored only nine seconds apart, breaking the record of ten seconds set in 1995. The Senators defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 5–2.[21]

On November 13, 2010, the 14-year-old daughter of assistant coach Luke Richardson died. The team, on a four-game road trip, returned to Ottawa for a 'celebration of life' memorial service held at Scotiabank Place on November 17. 5,600 attended the service, including former NHL players Paul Coffey, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour and Tie Domi.[22] The team flew out after the ceremony for a game against the Carolina Hurricanes that night. Richardson took a personal leave from the club. He returned to his duties with the Senators in January.[23]

Another player reached the 1,000 point plateau on November 22. Alexei Kovalev scored at the 10:00 minute mark of the first period. Kovalev became the third Russian player to reach the mark. Kovalev later assisted on the game-winning goal as the Senators prevailed over the Los Angeles Kings at home 3–2.[24]

The Senators set a new modern franchise record starting in the first period of a game of November 29 versus the Edmonton Oilers through the game of December 5 against the New York Rangers. The team went through a scoring drought that lasted 202 minutes and 57 seconds without a goal. The Senators were shut out by the San Jose Sharks and Buffalo Sabres before Chris Kelly broke the streak in the second period of a game against the Rangers.[25]

The Senators poor performance led to constant rumours of a shakeup right through until December. The rumours were heightened in January after the team went on a lengthy losing streak. Owner Eugene Melnyk, who had remained silent during much of the streak, finally broke his silence in an exclusive interview with the Ottawa Sun.[26] He made it clear that, despite rumours in the media to the contrary, general manager Bryan Murray and head coach Cory Clouston would be allowed to finish out their contracts and would not be replaced mid-season.[27] Melnyk also assured the team's fanbase that a "plan [was] now in motion" to return the Senators to the status of Stanley Cup contenders, and that "difficult decisions" would be made in the coming months.[28]

Those "difficult decisions" began on February 10, 2011, when the club traded long-time centre and fan favourite Mike Fisher to the Nashville Predators for a first round and a conditional draft pick.[29] The trade was met with mixed reaction from the Senators' fanbase. Some viewed it as an important step in the team's rebuilding process, while others were outraged at the loss of a player who was adored within the community. That outrage was most palpable when a local Ottawa radio station suggested that Fisher's new wife Carrie Underwood was largely responsible for his move to Nashville, and subsequently banned the play of her music. Underwood is a country music singer who is based in Nashville, where Fisher had recently began living during the off-season.

Following the Fisher trade, the Senators traded another lifetime Senator, forward Chris Kelly, to the Boston Bruins in another move which was met with mixed reaction.[30] The team shed salary by trading Jarkko Ruutu and the under-achieving Alexei Kovalev, both of whom were to become unrestricted free agent at seasons end, to playoff contenders Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively.[31]

Struggling goalie Brian Elliott, a pending restricted free agent was sent to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for goalie Craig Anderson, who had also been struggling through an inconsistent season.[32] Anderson, scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, was auditioned for a possible contract extension by the organization.[33] Ottawa later acquired goalie Curtis McElhinney on waivers on February 28. With Pascal Leclaire's injury status unknown and future with the team in doubt, the Senators finished their schedule with a vastly different goal-tending tandem than they had begun the season with.

Following speculation that longtime Senators defenceman and looming unrestricted free agent Chris Phillips would be dealt as part of the rebuilding process, the club instead signed him to a three-year extension on February 27, the day before the trade deadline. With a group of inexperienced young defencemen expected to stock the Senators' blueline in 2011–12, Phillips' experience was deemed an important asset. Defenceman Chris Campoli was traded on deadline day to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Ryan Potulny and a conditional second-round draft pick, as Ottawa's rebuilding process continued.

For the rest of the season, the Senators rotated call-ups from Binghamton. On March 21, after 11 games with Ottawa, Craig Anderson was signed to a four-year extension by Murray. After media speculation on the future of Murray within the organization, Murray re-signed as general manager on April 8, to a three-year extension.[34] After the final game of the season on April 9, Murray dismissed Clouston and his assistant coaches.[35]

Standings[edit]

Northeast Division[36]
GP W L OTL ROW GF GA Pts
1 y – Boston Bruins 82 46 25 11 44 246 195 103
2 Montreal Canadiens 82 44 30 8 41 216 209 96
3 Buffalo Sabres 82 43 29 10 38 245 229 96
4 Toronto Maple Leafs 82 37 34 11 32 218 251 85
5 Ottawa Senators 82 32 40 10 30 192 250 74
Eastern Conference
R Div GP W L OTL ROW GF GA Pts
1 z – Washington Capitals SE 82 48 23 11 43 224 197 107
2 y – Philadelphia Flyers AT 82 47 23 12 44 259 223 106
3 y – Boston Bruins NE 82 46 25 11 44 246 195 103
4 Pittsburgh Penguins AT 82 49 25 8 39 238 199 106
5 Tampa Bay Lightning SE 82 46 25 11 40 247 240 103
6 Montreal Canadiens NE 82 44 30 8 41 216 209 96
7 Buffalo Sabres NE 82 43 29 10 38 245 229 96
8 New York Rangers AT 82 44 33 5 35 233 198 93
8.5
9 Carolina Hurricanes SE 82 40 31 11 35 236 239 91
10 Toronto Maple Leafs NE 82 37 34 11 32 218 251 85
11 New Jersey Devils AT 82 38 39 5 35 174 209 81
12 Atlanta Thrashers SE 82 34 36 12 29 223 269 80
13 Ottawa Senators NE 82 32 40 10 30 192 250 74
14 New York Islanders AT 82 30 39 13 26 229 264 73
15 Florida Panthers SE 82 30 40 12 26 195 229 72

bold - qualified for playoffs; y – Won division; z – Placed first in conference (and division)
AT - Atlantic Division, NE - Northeast Division, SE - Southeast Division


Schedule and results[edit]

Pre-season[edit]

Regular season[edit]

2010–11 season
Source: Ottawa Senators[119]
Legend:

      Win (2 points)       Loss (0 points)       Overtime/shootout loss (1 point)

Player statistics[edit]

Skaters[edit]

Goaltenders[edit]

Regular season
Player GP Min W L OTL GA GAA SA Sv% SO G A PIM
Elliott, BrianBrian Elliott 43 2293 13 19 8 122 3.19 1147 .894 3 0 0 0
Anderson, CraigCraig Anderson 18 1055 11 5 1 36 2.05 589 .939 2 0 0 0
Leclaire, PascalPascal Leclaire 14 763 4 7 1 36 2.83 391 .908 0 0 0 0
McElhinney, CurtisCurtis McElhinney 7 399 3 4 0 17 2.56 205 .917 0 0 0 0
Lehner, RobinRobin Lehner 8 341 1 4 0 20 3.52 178 .888 0 0 0 2
Brodeur, MikeMike Brodeur 4 97 0 1 0 7 4.33 42 .833 0 0 0 0

Denotes player spent time with another team before joining Senators. Stats reflect time with Senators only.
Traded mid-season.

Note:

Pos = Position; GPI = Games played in; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalty minutes; +/- = Plus/minus; PPG = Power-play goals; SHG = Short-handed goals; GWG = Game-winning goals
Min, TOI = Minutes played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T,T/OT = Ties; OTL = Overtime losses; GA = Goals-against; GAA = Goals-against average; SO = Shutouts; SA = Shots against; SV = Shots saved; SV% = Save percentage;

Awards/Milestones[edit]

Milestones
Regular season
Player Achievement Date
Robin Lehner 1st NHL game October 16, 2010
Daniel Alfredsson 1,000th NHL point October 23, 2010
Sergei Gonchar 1,000th NHL game October 26, 2010
Jarkko Ruutu 1,000th NHL PIM October 28, 2010
Brian Elliott 50th NHL win October 28, 2010
Sergei Gonchar 1st goal w/ Ottawa November 2, 2010
Nick Foligno 200th NHL game November 4, 2010
David Hale 1st goal w/ Ottawa November 4, 2010
Peter Regin 100th NHL game November 6, 2010
Matt Carkner
Brian Elliott
100th NHL Game November 13, 2010
Ryan Shannon 200th NHL game November 19, 2010
Alexei Kovalev 1,000th NHL point November 22, 2010
Milan Michalek 400th NHL game November 22, 2010
Chris Neil 600th NHL game November 22, 2010
Jarkko Ruutu 600th NHL game November 22, 2010
Chris Kelly 1st NHL hat-trick December 5, 2010
Jason Spezza 1st NHL penalty shot goal December 13, 2010
Sergei Gonchar 700th NHL point December 16, 2010
Chris Phillips 900th NHL game December 26, 2010
Jim O'Brien 1st NHL game December 31, 2010
Erik Karlsson 100th NHL game January 8, 2011
Corey Locke 1st NHL assist
1st NHL point
January 13, 2011
Robin Lehner 1st NHL start
1st NHL win
January 13, 2011
Brian Lee 100th NHL game January 21, 2011
Colin Greening 1st NHL game February 1, 2011
Chris Kelly 100th NHL assist February 5, 2011
Bobby Butler 1st NHL goal
1st NHL assist
1st NHL point
February 12, 2011
Jason Spezza 500th NHL game February 12, 2011
Erik Condra 1st NHL game
1st NHL assist
1st NHL point
February 15, 2011
Jason Spezza 500th NHL point February 15, 2011
Andre Benoit 1st NHL game February 18, 2011
Craig Anderson 1st win w/ Ottawa
1st shutout w/ Ottawa
February 19, 2011
Colin Greening 1st NHL assist
1st NHL point
February 23, 2011
Roman Wick 1st NHL game February 25, 2011
Erik Condra 1st NHL goal February 26, 2011
Filip Kuba 700th NHL game March 1, 2011
Colin Greening 1st NHL goal March 3, 2011
Derek Smith 1st NHL assist
1st NHL point
March 3, 2011
Francis Lessard 100th NHL game March 8, 2011
Sergei Gonchar 500th NHL assist March 10, 2011
Patrick Wiercioch 1st NHL Game March 22, 2011
Marek Svatos 1st Goal w/Ottawa March 22, 2011
Marek Svatos 100th NHL goal March 27, 2011
Patrick Wiercioch 1st NHL assist
1st NHL point
March 27, 2011
Nick Foligno 100th NHL point March 31, 2011
Andre Benoit 1st NHL assist
1st NHL point
April 2, 2011
Stephane Da Costa 1st NHL game April 2, 2011
Jesse Winchester 200th NHL game April 7, 2011
Regular season
Team Achievement Date
Ottawa Senators 4,000th franchise goal November 9, 2010

Transactions[edit]