Ottawa Senators defenceman Travis Hamonic sees the positives

“It’s a long season. There are always a lot of ups and downs. You’d be hard pressed to find any player or team that doesn’t go through the same thing.”

Article content

Focus on the good, learn from the bad; that’s the way Travis Hamonic looks at it.

Advertisement 2

Article content

It’s not like feeling the sting of missing the NHL playoffs is something new to the 33-year-old Ottawa Senators defenceman, but he’s also competed in 22 post-season games.

Article content

When you’ve been around the league long enough, chances are pretty good you’re going to experience plenty of bad to go with the good.

Hamonic, who’s been in the NHL since the 2010-11 season, says while this has been a disappointing season, there are positives to build on, things he hopes foretell a brighter future for a team that hasn’t been in the post-season since 2017.

“You want to compete, you want to win,” said Hamonic Friday, a day before the Senators played a road game in New Jersey. “You want to be higher up in the standings. We’re not where we where we want to be.

Advertisement 3

Article content

“When you’ve been around a long time, you’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen both sides of it. I’ve been on teams where there the season doesn’t meet expectations. And, I’ve been on teams that exceeded expectations, finished high in the standings, then you get bounced early in the playoffs.

“It’s a long season. There are always a lot of ups and downs. You’d be hard pressed to find any player or team that doesn’t go through the same thing. It’s about trying to manage that throughout the season. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And that comes back to, we’re not where we want to be right now.”

Going into Saturday’s game against the Devils, the Senators had 60 points, just two back of Montreal, but also just two ahead of Columbus, which sits dead last (16th) in the Eastern Conference. It’s been that kind of season.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Even if Ottawa was to win each of its remaining games — and think of the odds against that happening — it’s unthinkable the team would get into the playoffs.

Yeah, so the Senators’ season will be finished April 16 with a game in Boston.

Hamonic says the younger core of the Senators is still very much learning on the job. Going through adversity is part of it.

“When you’re in any profession — a teacher, doctor or whatever — when you’re cutting your teeth, you’re learning your way along. You get a doctor who has been around for 20-something years, a teacher that’s been around for a long time, as you progress in your career, there’s not much you haven’t seen or experienced. (In hockey), you start to see more, experience more in the game. We’ve got some great talent in here. We want to use his last 15 games to build positively as a group, and, as individuals. When that happens, it’ll pull the group together.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

This team has shown flashes of how competent it can be. But, then we see flashes of how far away being competitive nightly really is. Keeping the puck out of the net has been an issue all season. With 244 goals allowed heading into Saturday, just four teams — Chicago, Anaheim, Columbus and San Jose — had allowed more. All of those teams are below Ottawa in the standings.

It’s not all on the goaltenders. Boxing opponents out, not allowing them to get traction around the Senators’ net, is tied into the horrible goals-against average. Game after game, the opposition is banging rebounds into Ottawa’s net.

But, Hamonic says, it comes back to learning on the job and finding ways to get better.

“The thing with experience is the only way to get it is to go through it. (It’s not just hockey). Plenty of people apply for jobs and (the employer says) you don’t have enough experience. What comes first, the experience or the job? You play the cards you’re dealt.

Advertisement 6

Article content

“We’re not where we want to get to. But you have to look at positives you can build off. We are where we are, how do we try to use that to continue building as players and as an organization. The sun came up this morning; that’s just my outlook. You always have to try to find something positive you can keep working toward.”

So, how does this team take the next step?

“The season is eight months — September until April — plus playoffs,” said Hamonic. “A lot can happen. The teams that can maintain it the best or the longest and have some things go their way are the ones that are standing at the end. If it was easy, everybody would be able to do it. It’s about learning. Look at a lot of the teams that have won; it took them years to break through and get that experience. You look at our core of players and the young talent in this room, there’s some great talent. That’s what you want to build a team around.

“You can’t look at the big picture, you can’t be looking 30 games ahead. You have to stay focused on the next game, next shift, next practice. You have to hope, as that prolongs, you’re able to put it all together.”

For exhausted and frustrated Senators fans, that’s can’t come soon enough.

Recommended from Editorial

Article content