A huge welcome home to Craig Anderson and his incredible legacy

Craig Anderson. Ottawa Senators (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
Craig Anderson. Ottawa Senators (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

First, I’ll start with the press conference, announcing that he signed a one-day contract and would be retiring as a member of the Ottawa Senators. As a quick aside, while he putting on that 2-D jersey, I thought to myself just how great it would have been to see him wear one of those during a game! What a shame! Anyways! You could see the emotions in Craig’s eyes right from the moment the press conference started as he described the impact the trade from Colorado, during a terrible season both on and off the ice, to Ottawa made not just on his career, but him as a person.

He shared that “This has become family,” and “It means the world to me and my family to be a part of this.” You could see the impact this moment was having on him. He spoke with such confidence and his usual “nothing is going to get to me” speech pattern.

He ended the press conference by saying, after a lengthy pause and with tears welling in his eyes, that “I didn’t announce my retirement until now because I wanted to be a Sen again. I never wanted to leave.” That hit me right in the feels and I know for a fact I was not the only one!

Then there was the pre-game ceremony! While I was, admittedly, expecting something a bit more grand than just a ceremonial puck drop, it was great to hear the fans chanting “AN-DY” just like they used to when he’d be dominating another game in nets!

It was great to see Craig, accompanied by his wife Nicolle and their two children, all draped in Sens jerseys, as they walked out onto the ice for puck drop! Being a goalie himself, they asked the starting netminders in this game to join them at centre ice which I thought was a really unique experience and something that has only happened three times in league history! There wasn’t a dry eye in the building for this moment and I know I was certainly in need of multiple tissues watching from home!

A few notable quotes to share from the broadcast:

Great hockey IQ, able to read the plays really well and shared those observations with the team in front of him;  – Marc Methot, TSN broadcast

Tremendous class; a top-tier goaltender in the league – Jamie McClennan, TSN Broadcast

“It just feels right, doesn’t it?” “Beloved by the community” – Jon Abbott, TSN Broadcast

Craig Anderson’s Career

When thinking about Craig Anderson’s time with the organization, it’s difficult not to think back to 2016, after it was announced that his wife Nicholle was diagnosed with cancer. After being encouraged by his wife to do so, Craig came back to the team and earned a 37-save shutout to help the team earn a 2-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers in one of the most emotional games I’ve ever watched.

When the final horn rang in the building, the team embraced Craig and you could see that he was overcome with emotions. Completely understandable. Afterward, after being named as one of the stars of the game, even the fans in Edmonton gave him a round of applause. Some things are bigger than hockey!

It wasn’t just how great he was on the ice that made the most impact on me, but the way he conducted himself off the ice, which was again evident during the press conference. He is methodical in his answers, respectful of everyone’s time and, despite this day being all about him, he made it about the impact players such as Neil, Alfie and Phillips had on him from the moment he walked through the doors.

Everyone who has had interactions with him over the years knows that he can be intense, but he’s an incredibly thoughtful and insightful person; someone who absolutely loves the game. The way that he used the word “camaraderie” while speaking about his teammates in both his press conference and his intermission hit on the TV broadcast is something that stands out to me, as it shows just the kind of person Craig is.

He also mentioned multiple times that over the years he’s developed a “we mentality, rather than a ‘me’ mentality” which I think is something that has helped to endear him not only to his teammates but also to the fans in this community!

Pierre Dorion was asked what kind of role Craig would have with the team now that he’s a member of the Alumni and while he didn’t come out specifically with anything, partly because Craig is a member of the Buffalo Sabres’ front office, I am curious to see if they bring him back in a larger role in the near future.

There’s incredible value to the team, but also to the community, when Alumni are brought back into the fold with an organization and this has been something that new owner Michael Andlauer has mentioned in the past as being a priority for him.

This was another incredible step forward as this Senators organization moves into its newest phase of embracing its past while looking forward to the future! Understanding the impact past players, both on and off the ice, have had on this team and community is essential to connecting with the fan base and creating the next generation of Ottawa Senators fans!

Moves like this one, however small it might seem from the outside, is exactly what this organization has been missing over the past decade or so and is something that fans should continue to expect and enjoy for years to come!

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Craig Anderson’s Numbers

Craig Anderson played in 435 games for the organization over 10 years, had 202 wins (the most in franchise history) and not to mention an incredible playoff career. He won the organization’s only Bill Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.