A Warrior’s Farewell

On an early fall night in 2002, I had the misfortune of having a night class at Carleton University that with the Senators’ first rookie camp game. Despite being unable to attend, my absence and a lengthy trek from the west end of Ottawa to the Bob Guertin Arena in Hull, wasn’t enough to discourage my dad from attending this game. Considering how barren the Senators farm system has been for the past few years, with names like Jason Spezza, Antoine Vermette, Ray Emery, and Anton Volchenkov headlining Ottawa’s rookie lineup, you can understand why he would be so excited to take in the action. It wasn’t particularly difficult for fans to envision these blue-chippers contributing on an already talent laden Senators roster.

At the time, Spezza was obviously the guy who was garnering the most fan and media attention. Drafted second overall in 2001, Spezza was viewed as the heir apparent to the Senators first line pivot spot vacated by Alexei Yashin. As I waited my father’s arrival back from the game, it was Spezza whose performance I  most eager to hear about.  So when my dad did come home, I was a bit surprised to spend the first 10 minutes of our conversation listening to him rave about the play of Anton Volchenkov…

…Until I heard why.

According to my dad, Volchenkov was a man playing amongst boys. He was a tank who apparently caught an opposing forward with his head down behind the net in the defensive zone. With a clean hit, Volchenkov knocked the opposing forward unconcious and it took 20 to 25 minutes for the medical technicians to get an ambulance on the ice surface and cart the injured player off. In Ottawa, it’s become a story of lore. I just wished I had witnessed it myself.

Since that infamous 2002 rookie camp, Volchenkov went on to crack Ottawa’s roster and has played seven seasons for the Senators. Although Volchenkov had a fine rookie campaign, he eventually exhibited some inconsistencies during his next two seasons playing alongside Wade Redden. It will be the years he spent paired with Chris Phillips wherein they developed into a premier shutdown defensive tandem that fans will remember him most for.

Whether it was his standup hits along the blueline wall or his patented shot blocking ability, fans have gravitated towards this guy and for good reason. Simply put, he’s been a warrior who willingly sacrificed his body for the greater good of the team. Interestingly, it’s this same style and mentality that’s earned him his departure.

By letting Volchenkov go while he’s only 28 years old, it reminds me of that comparison that one makes when dating a girl. According to www.lionsdenu.com, one should superficially regard the mother’s weight because it’s a sign you might be dating a future fatty.

The tree doesn’t fall very far from the apple…or something like that (See: Theory of Relativity).Genetic theory suggests that, unlike bald genes, fat genes don’t skip generations. If the mom is rockin a supa–FUPA (fat upper pelvic area), your likely looking at a future-FUPA. And you’ll have fat grand-daughters too, which sucks.

By letting Volchenkov walk, Bryan Murray has gambled that the Russian defenceman will inevitably wear down and isn’t worth the term or dollars that a club like New Jersey was willing to offer. (Ed. note: 6 years, $25.5 million.)Was it a good call? Time will tell, but I do feel that there was too much inherent risk to offer a player of Volchenkov’s ilk a long term deal. It won’t stop me from wishing Volchenkov all of the best in New Jersey though…

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