As we sit here on the 2nd of October just 5 days away from opening night in Binghamton, the question that most fans are or should be asking is, who will be defending the 2011 Calder Cup championship run made by last years Binghamton Senators.
We all know that it will not be Captain Ryan Keller, or playoff hero Ryan Potulny as both are else where trying to make the NHL, in which you can not blame either for trying. Potulny has all ready been sent down to Hershey and will witness the Cup banner raising at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena on Friday night. Keller at this moment still skating with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, was a key reason why the last season’s team stayed focused and determined to complete the ultimate goal. Derek Smith and Cody Bass, two of the organization’s longest tenured players will also not be here to defend this title with Bass all ready sent down to Springfield from Columbus and Derek Smith holding on at this point to a Calgary Flames spot; both players leaving the Ottawa organization in the hopes to find more NHL time.
Colin Greening, Erik Condra, Bobby Butler and Zach Smith all graduated to Ottawa and in their own different ways, deservedly so. No two rookies have come into the Ottawa organization like Greening and Butler and have shined as theses two have. Bobby Butler, an undrafted free agent out of UNH, that signed with Ottawa has this natural ability to just score like it’s no ones business. 32 goals in the regular season between Ottawa and Binghamton; then 13 goals in the playoffs for the B-Sens after coming back from injury. This season on the top line in Ottawa Bobby Butler could see 40 goals in the NHL in only his 2nd season pro. Colin Greening is a solid two-way player who probably is the smartest player on any team he plays on and with line mates in Ottawa like Zach Smith and Erik Condra could be apart of the best 4th line in the NHL this upcoming season.
Barry Brust will not be returning this season, as he has taken his services over seas to play for Straubing Tigers of German Ice Hockey League. Barry, where do we start with Barry? Honestly the heart, the soul of last season’s Championship team and every player, fan and media member will tell you that. Nothing was pretty about how Barry played the game, but when you have heart, it doesn’t always have to be pretty, it just has to get done.
But Barry, the two Ryans, Derek Smith and Cody Bass all know that this is a business and that they were not in Ottawa’s future. So defending their title was not an option but a stepping stone to maybe something better for all the players involved. NHL chances, added experiences and surely more money (as a few of them did get pay raises) are reasons to move when you are playing in the American Hockey League. Defending a title maybe the reason why you stay when you’re talking about defending Lord Stanley.
So who will be defending this title? Corey Locke, Robin Lehner, Kaspars Daugavins, Jim O’brien, Mike Hoffman, Eric Gryba and Derek Grant to just name a few. In the up and coming couple of weeks, I will be meeting the new crop of Binghamton Senators players and hopefuls. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM the 11-12 BSens will take the ice for a pre-game skate before a pre-season tilt in Hershey vs. the Bears Monday evening; I will be there and will write about my thoughts on the team that will be defending last years Calder Cup Championship.
Until next time when I will have thoughts on the new players like Mark Parrish, Mike McKenna, my wifes favorite Tim Conboy and all the new rookies, thanks for reading!