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All aboard the Senators bandwagon in Canada


Dion Phaneuf believes most of Canada is now cheering for the Senators — even fans of the provincial rival.

“I’m sure,” the former Maple Leafs captain said Friday morning when asked if he thinks supporters of the blue and white are taking a temporary ride on Ottawa’s bandwagon. “Toronto is a great hockey market.

“They’ve got incredible support, incredible fans.

“Talking with my brother, he’s out in Edmonton, and he says the games are on out in the sports pubs there, and Canada is pulling for our team.

“So it’s pretty special to be the last Canadian team playing right now and to have the support of a lot of people in the country. It’s fun to be a part of that.”

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Nine days after the elimination of Edmonton left Ottawa as the last team with a shot at bringing the Cup north of the border for the first time since Montreal did it in 1993, the Senators decided to adorn their helmets with a Canadian flag for Game 4 against the Penguins.

Wearing it proudly was Phaneuf, who has only played for Canadian teams in his 12-year NHL career.

“We’re playing for Canada and it’s the nation’s capital,” said the hard-hitting defenceman, a ninth overall pick of the Calgary Flames in 2003 who also played with the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Marc-André Fleury on Canada’s world junior team in 2004. “It’s a great situation we’re in.”

Phaneuf said being traded to the Senators by the Maple Leafs 15 months ago was a “good change” for him. He likes his teammates, whom he enjoys having to his house for dinner. And he likes being in a Canadian market, where he is often approached by the fans away from the rink.

“It’s something I’ve always done,” Phaneuf said of playing the dinner host. “They’re your teammates, they’re your friends. We’ve got a real close group here. Guys get along very well. So any time you get the opportunity to hang out with guys, it’s much like any other team. You’re a team, and you spend as much time as you can together.

“I’ve seen the city really build throughout our playoff run,” added Phaneuf. “The support around the city, the excitement of the fans. They’re very supportive. Whether you’re getting a coffee … they come up and say, ‘Continue to keep going.’ … As a player, when you’re out, that’s fun. You’re out getting your car washed or you’re out at the grocery store and people are all behind you. As a player, it’s a good feeling.

“We’ve got the support of our city and it’s fun to be playing for them right now.”





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