Leafs, Habs fans in Ottawa jump on Senators bandwagon — for now

Some Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens fans in Ottawa are ditching their teams' colours for the red and black as the Senators' playoff success continues.

Some fans of rival franchises ditching team colours for Sens black and red

Thousands of Senators fans line up ahead of their first-round opening game against the New York Rangers. Some Maple Leafs and Canadiens fans are warming to the Sens as their playoff success continues. (Stu Mills/CBC)

As the Ottawa Senators' thrilling playoff run continues, their bandwagon is taking on fans from across the country looking to cheer on one of the two remaining Canadian teams vying for the Stanley Cup.

And, believe it or not, those bandwagon jumpers include fans of the Sens' closest rivals — the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.

They're ditching Habs red and blue and Leafs blue and white for the red and black of the Sens.

When Montreal was eliminated in the first round, Canadiens fan Tony Caballero lost a bet with a friend and had to wear a Senators jersey. He says he's now cheering for the Sens the rest of the way. (Supplied)
For lifelong Canadiens fan Tony Caballero, who grew up in Montreal and now lives in Ottawa, the reason is simple. 

"I cheer for the Sens because they are a Canadian franchise," he said. "It's an easy decision to me because the last time a Canadian franchise won the Cup was in '93. I just really want to see that happen again."

That Canadian franchise was his beloved Habs. He'd hoped they'd be the team to go all the way this year, but found himself in an Erik Karlsson jersey after losing a bet with a Sens fan on which team would advance farther.

"No sense being a fan if you're not going to be a sport," he added.

'Leafs are golfing right now'

Melanie Musgrove is now cheering for the Sens because "the Leafs are golfing right now" and she's eager for a good reason to watch more playoff hockey.

Longtime Toronto Maple Leafs fan Melanie Musgrove has ditched the blue and white for Ottawa Senators black and red for the rest of the playoffs. (Supplied)
"It was not a difficult decision for me," said Musgrove, who's been a Leafs fan her whole life. "When the Leafs got eliminated in that heartbreaker, I mourned for a few days, but then knew it was time to support Ottawa 100 per cent. Having lived in the Ottawa area for 25 years, I support the Senators when I can."

She even went to Game 2 of the second round on Saturday to see the Senators' intense come-from-behind double- overtime win over the New York Rangers.

Rob Brewster also grew up in Montreal, but now lives in Osgoode in south Ottawa. He calls himself "a Habs fan by religion and a Sens fan by location."

He says he's backing the Sens the rest of the way because they've proven themselves as real contenders on the ice.

"It's a good team. It's exciting for Ottawa. They're not a novelty anymore," he said. "They deserve it. Montreal did not deserve it this year."

Switching teams

Many fans consider switching teams a major no-no, as evidenced by the emotional responses to a question we posed online after the Leafs and Habs went down late last month.

But these temporary Sens fans don't consider themselves traitors.

"Can't say I've ever been accused of being a turncoat, but if I did I wouldn't sweat it," said Caballero. 

"Most people have bandwagon teams and the last few years I've been seeing a lot of Canadian hockey fans cheering for [other] Canadian franchises."

For Musgrove, it's all about hometown pride. "I am getting behind my city's team, another Ontario team," she said. "No one expected the Sens to do this well, so it's so exciting!

"I will be back in my Leafs jersey in the fall, but for now, there's no Leafs hockey, so I will happily cheer on the Sens."