With the season effectively over and all of us now having a lot of time to think about increasingly ridiculous things, I recently started looking ahead with extreme levels of optimism to a future in which the Ottawa Senators win the Stanley Cup.
Now, we are a terrible team and I understand that, but please don’t forget that we are a year removed from the “Five Years of Unparalleled Success™” that Eugene Melnyk promised us all at a corporate event in Toronto.
On Twitter last week, I asked what kind of route Sens fans would like to see a Stanley Cup parade take through Ottawa. There were a lot of level-headed and reasonable suggestions with some grandiose plans thrown in, but the consensus seemed to be that we have a lot of great options for a killer parade. Obviously, I am under no illusions that this will happen any time soon, but in the interest of big ideas and keeping entertained during our quarantine, let’s have a look at three potential routes.
The “Boring, Stodgy, Ottawa” Route
After sweeping the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Final, the Senators defeat the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver to win the first Cup in their modern history.
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Not long after the victory, the Stanley Cup makes the flight to the City of Ottawa for the victory parade. Now, keeping in mind that Ottawa is a capital city known for being boring, bureaucratic, and plain, Eugene Melnyk has already pre-arranged a route by consulting with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Heritage Canada.
In essence, Lord Stanley’s Cup will be treated like a visiting head of state and will therefore take the traditional diplomatic route from the airport to Parliament Hill. The Cup, placed in a limousine or SUV picks up an Ottawa Police Service escort and sets out on a largely inaccessible route to a waiting throng of Ottawa Senators faithful on the Hill, exponentially larger than the 2014 “Save Jason Spezza” rally.
Heading down the Airport Parkway, the motorcade of Senators players and the Cup turn onto Colonel By Drive and snakes its way along the Rideau Canal. Passing by the Glebe and neighbourhoods downtown, the procession turns onto Laurier Avenue to Elgin where it heads north, enters the Hill grounds, and at the steps of the Peace Tower, greets the party and the waiting Canada Day stage that has been put together early for the Sens use.
This is perhaps the least accessible way for Sens fans to see their team, but there are already plans in place for shutting cross traffic down on this route. It would also probably be the cheapest, but remember, Eugene is promising to spend, spend, spend by then, so cost may not be a factor.
The “highlight” of such a parade would be the destination and the waiting crowds. I’m not in favour of this route and I imagine many others wouldn’t be either so with our luck, it is the route chosen. Hopefully, however, one of the following two will be.
The Most Likely Route
For this route, we need to make the assumption that Parliament Hill is still under construction and the lawn is not available. An acceptable alternative is the front of Ottawa City Hall and Confederation Park.
The best way to do this is for the parade to “start” in Old Ottawa South, on Bank Street. Crossing the canal, it makes its way through the Glebe to Gladstone Avenue, where it darts over to Elgin Street. Continuing the journey down the half-mile long “Sens Mile,” the parade is greeted by the majority of the Senators fans in attendance at Laurier Avenue where the party starts. DJ Prosper would most definitely be in the house for this.
In November 2016, the Ottawa Redblacks held their own championship parade down Bank Street to a party in the Landsdowne Park pedestrian mall. Winning the Grey Cup brought a professional sports championship to Ottawa for the first time since 1976 when the Ottawa Rough Riders did the same. It proved that Ottawa knows how to rally for its teams and hold a hell of a party.
Bringing the Stanley Cup down Bank Street and heading over to the Sens Mile, which has been in existence since 2007, is the most likely route and probably makes the most sense in terms of nostalgia and practicality. However, if Ottawa wanted to do something to stand out, to differentiate itself from other victorious cities, it has to go with the final option.
The Stand-out Route
On October 9, 2019, Ian Mendes published an article about Matthew and Brady Tkachuk talking about their ideal parade routes for a Stanley Cup celebration. Brady Tkachuk was quoted as saying that he would want the parade to travel:
“Down the canal. Right in front of Parliament. Into the market and a big street party. Just block off the road for a big street party,” he said. “We definitely thought about it.
I must agree. Ottawa is known for many things, but nothing really defines the city (at least from a geographical and landmark point of view) like the Rideau Canal. Even though it technically divides the city into east and west, it could also bring the city together in a big way.
Beginning at the Hartwell Locks adjacent to Carleton University, the Senators’ boats would make their way down the first section of the canal to Dow’s Lake where boat-owning fans, media, and others would be waiting to catch a glimpse. Continuing under the Bronson Avenue Bridge, the flotilla would be cheered on by fans standing on pathways and the closed-off Colonel By Drive and Queen Elizabeth Driveway. Tens of thousands of fans would comfortably fit alongside the waterway, where boats with current and past members of the Senators would pass with the trophy.
Passing the Bank Street Bridge and Flora Footbridge, the team would turn north and float past an increasingly loud and rambunctious mass of fans, under the Corktown Bridge, Laurier Avenue Bridge, and Mackenzie King Bridge. The team would disembark at the Plaza Bridge, right by the Senate of Canada Building and Chateau Laurier. At the intersection of Rideau and Sussex, the entire market would be closed off, in Brady’s words, “for a big street party.”
I can’t think of anything better. I can’t think of anything more Ottawa than that. It would be visually spectacular. It would allow a large number of fans to catch a glimpse of the Stanley Cup and their sporting heroes. It would be almost entirely unique; only Chicago has similarly famous canals. Not only that, the Rideau Canal has a place in Stanley Cup lore, as members of the 1905 Ottawa Silver Seven notoriously drop-kicked the trophy into the canal, just to see if they could.
Sens fan and Twitter user @axematty took this route one step further and suggested starting the “parade” in Kingston and taking the entire Rideau Waterway up along the Cataraqui River, through the Rideau Lakes, and alongside multiple small communities. This is ambitious but would be amazing and a great part of a potential days-long celebration and Olympic Flame-style journey for the Stanley Cup.
Look, I realize that the Ottawa Senators winning the Stanley Cup is a longshot in my lifetime, let alone in Melnyk’s promised five-year window. But wouldn’t it be amazing to see Chabot, Tkachuk, Boro, Hogberg, and some of the Sens greats like Alfie, Phillips, and Neil carrying that trophy through the streets or waterways of Ottawa?
We can dream.