Fans in the stands will be able to wear smiles Saturday night.
The Ottawa Senators confirmed Tuesday that, starting with Saturday’s visit by the Florida Panthers, fans will no longer be required to wear a mask.
The province of Ontario did away with the mask mandate Monday in public settings and the Senators are following the recommendations from Premier Doug Ford’s chief medical officer, Dr. Kieran Moore.
The Senators simply want to give fans a choice and they do recommend that for safety people continue to wear them.
“As has been the case throughout the pandemic, we’ve routinely liaised with city and provincial health officials before embarking on our own next steps of the reopening process,” Senators president of business operations Anthony LeBlanc said in a statement.
“In lockstep with Ottawa Public Health, we’ll continue to encourage patrons to take all measures they feel are important to their safety and that of others.”
It should be noted the club’s employees and the third-party vendors are still required to wear masks so those who choose to do so won’t be alone.
The club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville confirmed it’s following the same rules at the CAA Arena.
MAKING HIS DEBUT
Mathieu Joseph waited in the lobby of the Garden City hotel Monday waiting to meet his new teammates.
After shaking hands with captain Brady Tkachuk, the newly acquired winger was invited for dinner with some of his new teammates. Dealt to the Senators as part of the trade that sent winger Nick Paul to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Joseph made his debut Tuesday night against the New York Islanders at USB Arena.
The 25-year-old Joseph was expected to start on the right side of the fourth line with centre Chris Tierney and
winger Adam Gaudette. Since the Senators didn’t skate Tuesday morning, coach D.J. Smith probably felt using Joseph in a limited role made the most sense until he gets familiar with the system.
If anyone was worried Joseph might be upset about being dealt by the Bolts, he sure sounded excited when he spoke with reporters at the club’s hotel Tuesday morning.
“I got to greet and meet everybody at the hotel. I love the vibe in this organization,” Joseph said. “You can tell it’s a young group, but guys are having fun. Some guys invited me to dinner so it was good.
“The transition has been good so far.”
After winning two Stanley Cup championships with the Bolts, this will be an adjustment for Joseph. The Senators are trying to get to the level Tampa Bay is at and general manager Pierre Dorion feels Joseph can be a piece to the puzzle.
That was what shifted the waters in Tampa’s direction in trade talks for Paul. The New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche were both in pursuit, but neither was offering a player like Joseph. That’s why the deal made sense.
“It’s an opportunity for me and a new start,” said Joseph, a restricted free agent with rights to arbitration. “I probably didn’t produce as much this year as I would like, but I was in a different role as well.
“There’s a lot of things that come into a trade and I’m happy to be here. I know a lot of guys on this team already.”
Joseph went into Tuesday with eight goals and 18 points in 51 games this season and he’s got great speed. He played junior with alternate captain Thomas Chabot with the Saint John Sea Dogs. They were also teammates at the IIHF world junior championship and the 2019 IIHF world championship.
Joseph and Chabot’s families are also close friends.
“It’s pretty fun to be able to play on the same team as (Chabot),” said Joseph. “It’s super-special. We’ve known each other for 10 years now. We’ve won together at the world junior and we’ve played together at the world championship, and we’ve always been really tight.”
THE LAST WORDS
Vegas Golden Knights winger Evgenii Dadonov is waiting to find out where he’ll suit up this season, if he does at all.
Dealt to the Knights by the Senators on July 28, the Knights attempted to send the 33-year-old Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. The deal was originally approved, but was then put on hold after the 3 p.m. EDT deadline passed.
The sense Tuesday night was the NHL was going to void the deal, and that’s going to create cap issues for the Knights.
The NHL, Central Registry and the NHL Players’ Association were doing a full investigation Monday, but the indications are the Senators filed the 10-team “no-move” clause with the league so there was nothing untoward here by Ottawa.
The question is: How were the Knights allowed to initially do this by the NHL?
This may have been an issue with Central Registry, which administers all the contracts, and you have to think when the NHL GMs meet next week in Palm Beach, Fla., this will be a large part of the discussion.
Some around the league are wondering if the Knights were trying to pull a fast one here. Anaheim was on Dadonov’s no-move list that’s even acknowledged is in his contract by the respected website capfriendly.com .
The Knights need to get Dadonov off the books with captain Mark Stone and defenceman Alec Martinez closing in on returning.
If the deal gets voided, the Knights could trade Dadonov to a non-playoff team, but he wouldn’t be allowed to play the rest of the season.