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Sens clean out their lockers as another season ends without a playoff run

Ottawa Senators players will be cleaning out their lockers today as another season comes to a close.

This is the seventh season in a row the Senators failed to qualify for the NHL playoffs. The Sens finished the season with a record of 37-41-4, wrapping up the season Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins with one last win.

“It’s great to finish with a win for the guys,” said interim head coach Jacques Martin Tuesday night.

Captain Brady Tkachuk expressed similar sentiments after the game, saying it was “definitely nice” to finish on a positive note.

“Definitely feel a little bit better about yourself going into the summer,” he said.

A year ago, Ottawa was the hot spot for celebrities looking to buy the team. Actor Ryan Reynolds was seen at a game and rapper Snoop Dogg threw his hat into the ring as part of a bid to own the franchise. It would eventually go to Michael Andlauer, not Hollywood famous, but a known figure in the sport.

Expectations were high coming into the season under new ownership, but some problems both on and off the ice quickly brought Andlauer “back to earth” — in his own words. Centre Shane Pinto was suspended for 41 games for violating the league’s sports betting rules and then, when the team had to surrender a first round draft pick because of a botched trade involving Evgenii Dadonov, General Manager Pierre Dorion was let go.

“Three-game losing streaks, three injuries to three right d-men and two disturbing phone calls from the NHL, which has resulted in a young prospect being suspended for 41 games and today, the announcement of the loss of a first-round draft pick,” Andlauer said, speaking to the media on Nov. 1, 2023.

Head coach D.J. Smith would be out the door just before Christmas. Josh Norris, a star player with an eight-year contract, came off an injury and started the season late, only for his season to be cut short as he underwent another shoulder surgery, his third since 2019.

Amid the turmoil, some bright spots shone through. Tkachuk announced he and his wife Emma are expecting a baby boy this fall, Andlauer announced a $2 million donation to local hospices at the first Sens Gala in five years, fan favourite All Star Senator Daniel Alfredsson joined the coaching team, and the pre-pandemic tradition of a Christmas visit to CHEO was revived.

The team’s performance on the ice, however, continued to disappoint and the momentum heading into the season was dashed against the reality that it would be yet another year without a chance at a Stanley Cup.

Tkachuk said Tuesday he’s prepared to put in the work toward making the next season better than this one.

“I have all the faith and trust in management, ownership, and whatever plans they have,” he said. “Just going to try and be the best leader I can with the group that we’re going to have. For me, this summer, it’s all about trying to knock off the distractions, work on myself, and make sure my game’s ready to go for next year.”

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