This week will mark the first time in the modern history of the Ottawa Senators that they will be playing against their closest geographical rival, the storied franchise known as the Montreal Canadiens.
This series means more to the Ottawa Senators and the organization as a whole than just winning a playoff series.
You see, one of the biggest complaints from Senators fans is the fact that for Toronto and Montreal games at Scotiabank Place, there are too many fans from the opposition and they control so much of the atmosphere that it becomes like a road game, or at best, a neutral site game.
The next two weeks mark the first true opportunity for the Ottawa Senators to begin to change that culture, and to start to pull the next generation of Habs fans in the area away from the 100 years of hand-me-down Habs culture and to create a new generation of Senators fans in this region.
The Senators can potentially do to Habs fans in this series what they could not do in the early 2000′s in 4 opportunities to Leafs fans, and that is change the culture of their fandom and get the younger hockey fans in the area who might otherwise be brainwashed by their deluded parents who harbour memories of Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald or even their grandparents stories of Red Kelly, Tim Horton and Frank Mahovolich. Despite the fact that the Leafs haven’t won a Cup since 1967, the Senators haven’t given a reason to break free from that blue grip of death that holds them so tightly, and as those impressionable youngsters who witnessed 4 straight Leafs playoff victories over Ottawa are now the ones that are so very obnoxious at Scotiabank Place now.
Getting back to the Habs, although they are not yet to that level of obnoxiousness, a series win over the Senators could lead to the same unbearable environment in a few years. Think of the thousands of kids out there who will be watching this series with their Hab-loving parents and grandparents and looking for a reason to rebel against that grain. It has now been 20 years since the Habs have won a Cup, and the stories they are being told are just that…stories. The kids so badly want to cheer for their local team and this series could be a pivot point on whether or not they continue in the famliy way, or if they can break free from the hypnotic trance that the previous generation is caught in and make a decision on their own.
If the Canadiens should win this series, it is another potential generation lost to the dark sides. And another 5 or 10 years down the road, Ole, Ole Ole might be the predominant chant at Habs-Sens games in Ottawa. And that would make me sick.
No pressure, Senators. This series could do more for the atmosphere at SBP than all of your “Take Back The Bank” promotions you could run.