The Best and Worst Excuses for Ottawa's Poor Attendance

by Rob Poirier (@RobFeature)

Last week, the Ottawa Senators opened their second-round playoff series at home, squaring off against the New York Rangers on a summery Thursday evening. You couldn't ask for better circumstances in which to cultivate playoff madness. Unfortunately, no one cared.

The Senators, led by Erik Karlsson, stunned the Rangers and jumped out to a 1-0 series lead in front of a crowd of just 16,744. For a building that can hold 20,000 or more when stuffed to its limit, that's not good.

But why? Why, God, why?? Why did this happen?! Well, for every empty seat there was in the building, you can find about ten think pieces on the internet that all attempt to answer that question. And I bravely stared into that heaping mound of trash and, through clenched teeth, grunted: "One. More."

So, without further ado, here is the definitive list of the very best and very worst excuses for Ottawa's attendance woes.


I don't think anyone has ever brought this up before, but did you know that the Senators play in a building that is far removed from downtown?? That's right, people actually have to drive there! And once they do, they have to pay a premium to contend with what is pretty much the world's worst parking lot. It's a hassle that many fans simply aren't willing to endure more than a handful of times each year. But does that make it a good excuse?

Well, no, obviously. It says right there that it's the #3 worst excuse, pay attention.

How do I know it's a bad excuse? Because a second-round playoff game would never fail to sell out in a REAL hockey city, like, say... Toronto, for example. Long drives and horrible parking lots be damned.

I mean, I guess we have no way of actually knowing if this is true... because their rink is practically right in the center of their downtown core, and they haven't actually made it to the second-round since before I was born... but I've just got this feeling that it wouldn't happen there. It just feels right to say, true or not, and if that's good enough for literally the entire Toronto media and fanbase, then it's good enough for me.


In Ottawa, the owner of the Senators, Eugene Melnyk, is a pretty polarizing figure. For the past ten years, his hockey club has stagnated, and many fans lay the blame squarely on his shoulders. Melnyk is dogged by the perception that he is the ultimate cheapskate, and it's not hard to see why: letting his franchise player walk over a salary dispute, pulling off multiple trades that only make sense based on financials, gouging customers for their right to park in the aforementioned world's worst parking lot...

It also doesn't help that Melnyk is constantly on Toronto radio (where he seems to think Ottawa residents cannot hear him) complaining about how little money he is able to squeeze out of his fanbase. 

If you're not going to games because you think Melnyk is a sneaky lil stinker, I feel you.


In most NHL cities, large swaths of tickets are purchased by corporations, who gift these tickets as bribes to those who can help them bankrupt their competitors. It's a beautiful tradition. In Ottawa, however, the city's biggest employer is not able to do this. And that's because the city's biggest employer is The Man.

It's one thing that The Man can't give Sens tickets to sleeper agents from foreign governments who could covertly carry out lethal operations benefiting our nation, that's bad enough. But this year, The Man is also stopping The Little Guy from getting those tickets. The Little Guy, of course, being anyone who works for The Man.

Thanks to the Phoenix pay system, a significant portion of Ottawa residents are either being underpaid, or not paid at all. That's bad. But is it bad enough to be used as a viable excuse? NO!

Why? Because this is exactly the type of thing that could never happen in a REAL hockey city, like Toronto! Again, we can never know that for sure, because every ticket to every one of their home games is bought by corporations, leaving Leafs fans to desperately swarm to Ottawa like disease-ridden rats with their hands out... but I'm pretty sure the real reason it could never happen is because they won a Stanley Cup 50 years ago (not hyperbole this time, it was literally 50 years ago).


If you're not from Ottawa, you could never understand the phenomenon known as Museum Fever. It starts creeping in around April. The spring breeze floats past, you lock eyes with a stranger, and both of you just know it. You've smelt it. 

A priceless artifact. 

"The museums," one of you shout. "They're open!"

Now, I've heard people complain that Ottawa is boring. Oh yeah? How can that be when we've got so many museums?  The War Museum (old guns). The Aviation and Space Museum (old planes). The Museum of History (old everything). The Museum of Nature (old animals (dead)). The Agriculture Museum (old animals (alive)). The Museum of Science and Technology (mold). Yes, mold, that's SCIENCE, BABY! Even the National Art Gallery is basically a museum (old paintings). 

Is it any surprise hockey can't compete?

If you're not going to games because you're going to too many museums, I feel you.

You're at a museum right now, aren't you? 



We established in that museum bit that Ottawa has a thing for old stuff. But what about young, hot stuff? Yes, we have a thing for that too.

There's a new trend that's swept Ottawa, and few people outside the city know about it. It's called... well, it's just straight up stalking Justin Trudeau (we haven't thought of a catchy name like Museum Fever yet). 

That's right. Most of us can't go to hockey 'cause we're too busy trying to catch a glimpse of Handsome Justin. Like, what do you guys think he's doing right now? Probably something progressive, I bet. Or maybe he's just watching Star Wars again...

Wait, I'm getting off track, this is BAD! Don't do it!

I have hereby completed my court-ordered action to publicly disavow any and all activities relating to the surveillance and/or idolatry of Justin Trudeau


Another problem that is unique to Ottawa: Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The guy just won't stop scoring playoff hat tricks. Recently, he started adding an extra goal, just to be sure. It's killing us. 

"Oh, don't you just throw one hat?"

Uh, yeah, maybe if some rookie scored four goals in an early season game that my crappy team went on to lose anyway. But when JGP scores a hat trick in the playoffs, humiliating a divisional rival in the process... or when he uses one to tie a game with just seconds left before winning it in double OT... you throw all the hats. Mine. Yours. The hat grandpa needs to keep the sun from ravaging his eczema-covered scalp. Uncle Mike's toupee. All of them.

If you're not going to games because you're spending all your money trying to replace the hats you've thrown at JGP's feet, PLEASE HELP MY KIDS HEADS ARE BURNING UP OUT HERE

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