It’s still hard to wrap one’s head around the fact that the Ottawa Senators actually did something the fans asked them to do. Maybe they did it because the cost and effort of producing an entirely novel logo was prohibitive. Maybe they did it was because they were saving this cash cow until they needed it most. But you know what they say about gift horses and mouths and not looking in them. However we got here, the Ottawa Senators now have the sharpest design in the NHL after having worn the cartoon 3D gladiator for an endless 13 seasons.
When you consider that the new jerseys are streamlined from the baggy-sweatshirt cuts of old, feature the blockier, bolder number fonts and nameplates of their current jerseys, tone down the sparkly gold, and clean up some of the striping, the new 2D jerseys might even be sharper than the old ones.
Predictably, Sens fans are lining up to drop three hundred of their hard earned dollars on pro-quality versions of the new jerseys. However, the question of what player you get on the back is more difficult than it might seem at first blush. First of all, the Sens don’t currently have a TON of great players to choose from, or certainly not players that are evidently franchise cornerstones. Certainly, we don’t have as many as cornerstones as those regular season juggernauts of the mid-2000s. Back then, you could agonize over which player to choose taking only the Pizza Line into consideration. Secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, because these are retro jerseys, it makes some sense that you’d be able to choose a player from those deep days, when they also wore the 2D logo. It would be sort of weird to get, say, a Mike Fisher Heritage ‘O’ jersey, given he never wore it. But a Mike Fisher 2020 2D jersey? Is that a faux pas, or fair game?
In order to maximize the value, and fun of spending money on a shirt you can’t really do anything while wearing, I offer here the following codification to help you in your decision-making:
Captain Obvious Wins the Slam Dunk Contest: Tkachuk, Chabot
The Sens have two blue chip burgeoning stars on the current roster. One embodies the attitude of the franchise. The other is an electric, puck-moving defenceman who surely will never be traded away for a collection of depth roster players, mid-level prospects, and draft picks. It’s true that you can’t really go wrong, here, but you have to ask yourself: how will it make you feel, sitting in the CTC with the 2D Sens jersey you purchased, to look at the rows in front of you and see a series of coin-flips between Tkachuk and Chabot staring back at you? If your answer is, “That would make me feel just fine,” well then you have your answer, and this Choose Your Own Adventure game has come to an early close. If the answer is anything else, then read-on, weary traveler.
Money Doesn’t Have the Same Value for Me As It Does for Other People: Stutzle, Sanderson, Batherson, Norris, Formenton, Brannstrom, Bernard-Docker, Thomson
These players represent the top of the prospect pipeline, and in that sense they embody hope for the future. These are players we hope to see in the very 2D jersey you want to buy for years to come. How could they not represent the best possible value for your dollars? They haven’t even really started playing for the team in any meaningful way (unless you count Brannstrom getting stuffed into a locker for a few games last year), so if you get one of these names on the back of your sparkling new, not-yet-soiled-from-a-too-long-OC Transpo-bus-ride-home-from-Kanata 2D jersey, it’s like you’re marrying into a rich family, right? Just sit back and accrue cred for being early.
Not so fast. Let me tell you a story. A tragedy, really.
Many years ago, when I had some money, but not much, I became obsessed with getting a heritage ‘O’ Robin Lehner jersey. It seemed foolproof: the jersey was the best we’d ever had so clearly Ottawa would adopt it soon enough as our primaries. Lehner, meanwhile, had an incredible pedigree, having won a Calder Cup with the B-Sens. He was going to be the goalie of the future. He was Swedish, like Alfredsson and Karlsson. Furthermore, he seemed deeply badass, with the kind of sass not seen since Ray Emery fought the entire Buffalo Sabres’ lineup like an avenging angel. So, what happened?
- The Senators did not adopt the heritage jersey.
- Robin Lehner was traded to the very Sabres Emery once fought like an avenging angel.
- Lehner became a Trump-loving provocateur for a time.
Sure, Lehner has redeemed himself in everyone’s eyes, and he’s legitimaltly awesome again, doing incredible work to reduce the stigma of mental illness and substance abuse, but he still serves as a cautionary tale for any of us considering investing in a jersey we like with the name of a good-seeming prospect on the back: things change, and they change suddenly. I urge you to consider that if any of these players end up on another team, it is your constitutionally-enshrined duty to not like them anymore.
While it’s possible that a Rundblad jersey COULD be cool (we used to call him Mecha-Karlsson), it’s certainly not the sort of treasured artifact you’ll hand down to your children in lieu of a social safety net and ecological stability. Have you ever seen a Matt Puempel jersey in the wild? Matt Puempel might not even own a Matt Puempel jersey anymore.
Mucking With Space Time: Alfredsson, Neil, Fisher, Chara, Redden, Hossa, Havlat, Spezza, Heatley, Vermette, Hasek, Phillips, Volchenkov, Lalime, Schaefer
Man, those were the days, huh? These teams were deep, seriously fun, and could beat you any number of ways. Remember Vermette winning a face-off, Schaefer cycling the puck along the boards, Havlat finishing with pure skill – and that was our second line? Plus, each of these players, at some point or another, wore the 2D Senator. This is a throw-back jersey, isn’t it? Why wouldn’t it be okay to put the name of a player who wore (basically) this jersey on the back of (basically) this jersey while we celebrate our heritage, history, and nothing traumatic ever happening in the playoffs? As SteveOnSens said it above, other teams treat their team like an unbroken lineage, all accessing the same morass of ephemeral hopes, dreams, and blah blah blah. The Senators have for too long treated themselves as an expansion franchise who barely has the right to be here.
How awesome would it be to look into the stands and see not only Tkachuk and Chabot jerseys, but also the occasional Alfredsson, in a 2D jersey, looking back at you? Papa? Is that you, Papa??? You run down the CTC concourse trying to catch up as he weaves in and out of pedestrian traffic, that collection of Hossa and Spezza nameplates bobbing around you – “Papa, come back!” you cry out, following that fire-red flow. The 2D centurion is everywhere you look, winking and whispering: “Alfie, Alfie. Papa, papa.” Am I Hugo? you wonder. When you finally catch up and put your hand on the shoulder of the person wearing that Alfredsson jersey, turning him around, you see that it’s not him, after all. It’s even better. It’s your actual papa.
Alternate Reality Choices: Karlsson, Zibanejad, Stone, MacArthur
Erik Karlsson is the greatest player to ever play for the Senators, and so you probably get a pass for putting his name on anything, and Zibanejad was our last great hope coming out of a rebuild. Stone is a player the Sens plucked from nowhere and turned into one of the best two-way forwards in the game, and MacArthur is a heart-and-soul player whose brilliant career was cut short.
None of them ever played in the 2D, though. If you saw a Karlsson 2D jersey in the wild, it would feel weird, like the Uncanny Valley, where something isn’t quite right but not obviously wrong, either. It might be a jersey foul. If you’re going to mix-and-match good hockey players with your current jersey, why not put Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos on the back of your 2D jersey?
This would come awfully close to being a faux pas, a sort of wishful thinking that also happens to make it look like your Great Aunt walked into a store, picked up a jersey because she knows you like hockey (and she loves you), asked the prick kid behind the counter who the best Ottawa Senators player ever is, and voila.
My point is, I think you can do better than this. You’ve gotta let the past be the past, to allow for growth. If I see you in a 2D Zibanejad jersey, my first reaction will definitely be, “Okay, Zibanejad is the coolest looking name aesthetically and coolest sounding phonetically,” but after that, I’m gonna wish you well, because you’re clearly working through some stuff.
The Make Me Feel Pain Pick: Yashin, Daigle
It feels like the unacknowledged subtext of the 2D jersey debate is that the Sens were really bad during large swathes of the time that they spent wearing that jersey. Though we on Sens Twitter have spent enough time marinating in the notion of a 2D return that we’ve become numbed to the idea of how it might be perceived by the rest of the league, I’ve gotta think that there are some out there who think we’re naively opening a mummy’s sarcophagus that we found out in Kanata. It’s sort of like when people said the heritage ‘O’ looked like a zero. It’s a true that it didn’t matter, because that jersey is rad, but it’s also true that it kind of does look like a zero.
What better way to acknowledge that, like, dude, we know, than to get the name of one of the two players who exemplified the team’s cursed early years? Yashin was actually pretty great when he was with the Senators, but held out for most or all of some seasons asking to have his contract re-negotiated. Daigle was never particularly good, but going into the draft he was hyped beyond belief. The entry-level contract the Senators offered him was so generous, the league actually created new rules that live until this day about how much you’re allowed to offer rookies. The Senators were such a shit-show that the league had to change its rules to prevent other people from ever being that stupid. This, on many levels, is amazing. When you think about it, that might be the most enduring impact the Ottawa Senators have ever had on the NHL.
Enough time has passed for us to own this. Daigle and Yashin both played in the alumni game on Parliament Hill, and looked great in that 2D to boot. Bygones are bygones, and to put Yashin or Daigle on the back of your beautiful new 2D jersey is sort of like saying that pain can no longer touch you, but passes through you. You might get some eye-rolls from those who think you’re being ironic, but you’ll know better. Getting Yashin or Daigle on your 2D is having the grace to accept that which you cannot change while acknowledging that the awesome person you are today was informed by the challenges you lived through in the past.
The Deep Cut: Smolinski, McAmmond, Arvedson
Ottawa was blessed with a number of effective depth players and NHL veterans during those deep years. They were nobody’s favorites, but we couldn’t have been the Ottawa Senators without them. And, they all wore the 2D. You have to offer up some grudging respect if you see these names on a new jersey, although there is sooooooome degree to which it feels a little too cute by half. Take it from me; I call myself Varada on the internet.
The Really Deep Cut: Peter Bondra, Pavol Demitra
Peter Bondra joined the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline in 2003, after a whopping 14 seasons with the Washington Capitals. I remember him scoring in his first game (I think?) and Hossa being absolutely psyched. He had 14 points in 23 games, went pointless in the seven-game loss to Toronto in the first round, played two more seasons in the NHL, then was out for good. While it’s hard to believe that he was ever anyone’s favorite when he was in Ottawa, there’s no denying that 1) Peter Bondra was a pretty rad player, and 2) he wore the 2D:
Pavol Demitra, of course, was drafted by Ottawa in the ninth (!) round, traded for nothing and then turned into a superstar for St. Louis. He wore the 2D. He is also beloved and fondly remembered after his tragic passing at only 36 years old in a plane crash. Wearing a Demitra 2D signals simultaneous appreciations for history, good drafting, bad trades, what could have been, and an all-around pro. It’s a little bit like insisting that Nirvana’s Bleach is their best album: you’re not right, but there’s nothing wrong with it.
Covering Your Bases: White
Hear me out: first of all, do you even know what White I’m talking about? Is it Colin, or Todd? Jerseys don’t have first names. Both wore the 2D. Both will be considered promising young players on squads ultimately much deeper than what they themselves can offer. (Relatable!) Yes, this could apply to “Brown,” too, but Colin and Todd White could both credibly be, even if it’s a bit of a stretch, someone’s favorite player on the team. Todd White had a respectable NHL career, and Colin White was drafted in the first round and will probably play in the NHL, almost invisibly, for years to come. Getting “White” on the back of your 2D jersey is at the same time a deep cut, because they are, of course, not Karlsson or Alfredsson, and an inoffensive, vanilla selection signifying that you are passingly familiar with the entire lineup of your favorite hockey team. You may as well get the word “Hockey” on the back of your 2D jersey – and I mean that in a good way!
Okay, just kidding, get an Alfredsson jersey.