Sens fans remain loyal despite Karlsson trade
Thousands of fans showed up to pre-season event
Although many Ottawa Senators fans are disappointed with the departure of former captain Erik Karlsson, those who showed up at Senators Fan Festival Sunday seemed to be remaining loyal to the team.
For $15 at the gate, people who came out to the Canadian Tire Centre got to watch the team scrimmage, collect autographs, play games, and ask alumni questions at what organizers called a "fan press conference."
Despite the Karlsson trade, thousands of people still attended Sunday's festivities, with a team spokesperson saying attendance surpassed last year's event.
Last week, general manager Pierre Dorion said trading Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks was part of a major rebuild — something Sens fan Christine Ladouceur says she understands.
"I think all sports teams go into a rebuilding phase every so often because they have to," Ladouceur said at Sunday's event.
"They have to kind of change things up, change people in the different positions, see what works, see what gels."
Ladouceur said she regularly goes to Senators games, but this was the first year she attended the pre-season event.
She said she's curious to see who the next captain will be. Although Karlsson's departure has left a big hole, she's also looking forward to see what the prospects the Sens acquired for the star defenceman can do.
Even if the team doesn't make the playoffs, Ladouceur said it should be an interesting season.
"I'm always hopeful for every season. They're my favourite team. That'll never change."
'For the kids'
Glenn Behan, who showed up Sunday with his family, said he wasn't exactly in the mood to celebrate.
"Right now, it was hard to come here for Fan Fest. [I'm] not really in a Fan Fest mood," Behan said.
"But for the kids, they get to have the fun, right? So hopefully when they're old enough to go watch the games, we'll have a winning team again."
Behan said he plans to remain loyal to the team, but won't be cheering for team owner Eugene Melnyk. He said he believes the team won't be successful again until there's new ownership.
"We've seen all of our stars leave year after year. Unfortunately, I think Ottawa's just going to be a place where the stars come to develop their skills and then go off to better teams," said Behan.
Micheal Molson shared similar sentiments.
"We don't like it, but we'll still be here," said Molson, who was also at Fan Fest with his family. "There's no point in boycotting the team because of bad decisions."
Hockey fans playing games, getting autographs, and listening to former NHL players speak at Sens Fan Fest. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ottnews?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ottnews</a> <a href="https://t.co/FfnbNf23rr">pic.twitter.com/FfnbNf23rr</a>—@Krystalle_CBC
Making the best of it
Laura Metansinine, Molson's partner, said she's sad that Karlsson is gone.
She felt he was part of the legacy that started with former long-time captain Daniel Alfredsson and inspired and motivated the team.
"It felt weird even just watching the game inside right now, knowing that [Karlsson's] not on the ice. And you're wondering who's going to be filling his shoes next. But everyone was out there with like huge smiles and having a good time," said Metansinine.
"I think everyone's trying to make the best of the mood. It's Fan Fest, so everyone's here to have a good time," she said.