The Senators have had a dismal season BUT LOOK A PUPPY!
Future guide dog Rookie will drop the puck before Saturday's season finale
The Ottawa Senators have waited until the final game of an otherwise forgettable season to unleash their new paw-er play.
On Saturday, the team's seven-month-old Labrador retriever, Rookie, will drop the puck for the ceremonial faceoff.
By all accounts, Rookie has been giving 110 per cent during practice for the puck-drop routine, and is ready for the big league.
"It took three to four sessions of 10 minutes, and he picked it up almost immediately," said Mark Kelly, the team's senior graphics designer and Rookie's owner.
"We practised with him with the players on the ice, with some sirens and tests going on … just to make sure he won't be distracted," said Aimee Deziel, the team's chief marketing officer.
Rookie was born in Australia on Sept. 2, 2018, and joined the Senators the week before Christmas.
He's spending a year with the team to get used to being around people and learn the basics of being a good boy before joining the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to train as a guide dog.
Kelly said Rookie has been a natural fit at Canadian Tire Centre.
"He can't wait to get on the ice. When he sees the doors open and the players are out there he can't wait to jump out and chase a puck," he said.
"He'll bring them back to my office. I have a few stacks of them on my desk."
Other NHL franchises including the Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues have team dogs, while still others have brought in police or service dogs for ceremonial puck drops, but the Senators say Rookie will be the first team dog to drop a puck before an NHL game.
Saturday's game starts at 7 p.m.
Whatever the outcome, the Senators are guaranteed to finish last in the league, and will miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.