Devil In Details When 67’s Move

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Devil in details when 67’s move

The Ottawa 67’s have decided to re-locate to Scotiabank Place for the next two seasons if Lansdowne Live becomes a reality, but the plan remains short on specifics.

Moving the operation to Kanata from the Glebe and coexisting in the same building with an NHL team would undoubtedly provide some challenges.

"We have a lot of logistics around the players to still figure out," said 67’s owner Jeff Hunt Wednesday, soon to be a co-owner of the team with the partners of Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) if the courts give the group and the city the go ahead to start digging at Lansdowne Park. "We have had billets here for 15 or 20 years, and we don’t want to lose them. We may even have to look at some kind of shuttle to get the players out there.

"I would hope we can practise at Scotiabank Place at least once a week, and junior hockey is still basically a weekend league, and we’re still hoping to have quite a few Friday nights and Sunday afternoons (for games). But we may see more Saturday games. Maybe Thursday nights. Maybe even Tuesday nights."

The saving grace may be that the NHL schedule is formulated by the same company that handles the Ontario Hockey League schedule. The Senators would have already submitted their preferred dates for next year and the NHL schedule is due out in June. The schedule-makers will already have the Senators’ dates in the system when they start trying to work out the 67’s dates, both at home and away.

Obviously, the Senators, concerts and special events would be priorities for dates at Scotiabank Place. Still, the Senators have been gracious hosts in the past, allowing the 67’s to play playoff games when the spring home show would force them out annually at the Civic Centre.

Senators president Cyril Leeder is optimistic the 67’s can maintain, or perhaps increase, their attendance over their two seasons at Scotiabank Place.

"They’ve had good attendance in the games they have played here before," Leeder said. "We will work closely with Jeff to make sure he gets as many weekend dates as possible."

Hunt said the decision to move was a no-brainer. He and his partners had originally toyed with trying to complete the remodelling of the Civic Centre over two summers in order to keep the team downtown. In the end, it just wasn’t realistic, which is good news and bad news for 67’s fans. For those east of Bank Street, it can’t be good, but for those fans in the west end, it’s not so bad.

"If you live in Orléans and want to see us play, the news is not as good as it is for the fan in Stittsville and some fans will not be thrilled," Hunt said. "But the reality was we would be facing two years of construction here and that would make for a very undesirable experience for our fans.

"We quickly realized playing here was not an option. In essence, we would have to open a construction site for approximately 40 dates, plus practice.

"We have had 45 years plus of great experiences here at the Civic Centre and we did not want to have to put our fans through what will be large-scale construction."

One possible solution would be for the 67’s to set up at the Bell Sensplex and use the facility for both training camp and daily practices, though Hunt would like to see his team have the opportunity to practise at Scotiabank Place at least once a week.

Hunt also said that, in the event of a scheduling conflict, he would consider moving a game to either Cornwall or Smiths Falls.

Don Campbell

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