GLENDALE, Ariz. — Anthony LeBlanc lived in Ottawa for 17 years and was a Senators season ticket holder for that entire run.
So how will the Coyotes president and CEO suppress his emotions when his favorite team for the better part of two decades skates onto the Jobing.com Arena ice on Tuesday?
“It’s going to be an interesting night,” LeBlanc said, laughing. “Having said that, it’s not going to be difficult, because finance trumps everything.”
Since completing the purchase of the Coyotes along with the other members of IceArizona, LeBlanc has sworn allegiances to his new club. But he still carries a scrapbook worth of memories from his old one.
He remembers the inaugural season in 1992-93 when the Sens lost 70 games.
He remembers the stars that littered the teams in the late ’90s and into the next decade, like Alexei Yashin, Marian Hossa and Daniel Alfredsson.
He remembers the Cup Finals run in 2007. He remembers last season’s improbable run. And he remembers Alfredsson coming back four weeks earlier than expected from a shoulder injury with the Senators trailing 2–0 in their playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008.
“You could tell by his speed on the ice that he was dying and he shouldn’t have been out there,” LeBlanc said. “I remember watching him then and thinking, ‘now that’s a leader.’ “
LeBlanc found it amusing that the Senators will be just the Coyotes’ second home opponent this season.
“I wondered if the NHL’s scheduling department was doing this as a special favor to me,” he said.
But while he freely admits he is still a Senators fan, that his favorite Senators are defenseman Chris Phillips and tough guy Chris Neil, and that he is looking forward to the Coyotes’ trip to Ottawa on Dec. 21, LeBlanc doesn’t think twice when asked what he wants to see Tuesday night.
“As long as we, the Coyotes, get the win, that’s all that matters,” he said. “But I want to see it go to OT and us win in OT so the Senators can get a point.”