Sheri Miller isn’t allowed to tell anyone who her favourite Senator is anymore. Miller has accumulated over seven Sens jerseys and just as many t-shirts ‘and they’re all gone.’
Julie Oliver / Postmedia
Sheri Miller’s friends have told her she’s no longer allowed to buy a Senators jersey or T-shirt with a player’s name on it. Ever time she does, she says, that player gets traded. She’s sort of the black widow of sports fans.At home, she and her husband, Al, have a ton of red-and-white jerseys and T-shirts in their closet, some signed, some game-worn: Daniel Alfredsson, Kyle Turris, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Mika Zibanejadand, Mark Stone, Mike Condon, Colin Greening and numerous Mike Fishers.
Sheri Miller isn’t allowed to tell anyone who her favourite Senator is anymore, says her husband Al. ‘It’s a curse. She gets the jersey and then they’re gone.” Sheri Miller says she cried when Mark Stone was traded. Julie Oliver/Postmedia
Julie Oliver /
Her two favourite Senators this year were Duchene and Dzingel, and she actually cried when they were traded last weekend. She shed a few more tears on Monday when Stone joined the Sens alumni.“But not as much as when Alfredsson became a free agent and went to Detroit,” noted Al. “Or when Zibanejad was traded to the Rangers.”
Some of Sheri Miller’s collection.
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The couple have been half-season ticket holders since the Sens rejoined the NHL a little over 25 years ago. “Since that first opening night,” recalls Al, “when Neil Brady put the puck behind Patrick Roy.”Sheri was wearing her Turris jersey at Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Sens’ first home game since trading away their top three scorers, and confessed the recent trades hurt.“I’m disappointed,” she said. “And it’s not OK. It’s too much.”That said, Sheri won’t abandon her team.“I’m a diehard fan. I’m not going to give up on these guys. It’s going to be a long haul now, but I’m still going to cheer the boys on.”Al believes the rebuild is more about money than hockey, but he says he and Sheri will most likely renew their seats next season. “I’m sure I’m in the minority about that, but we enjoy hockey, and we enjoy coming here night after night, and when things are bad — and things ARE bad — we look forward to watching (Connor) McDavid, (Jonathan) Toews, (Carey) Price, (Shea) Weber.”Matt Budd-Kenny and his girlfriend Kayla Garcia watch the game from a box wearing long-lost Sen’s jerseys. Julie Oliver/PostmediaJudging from Thursday’s well-attended game, many others do, too; while the stands weren’t the sea of blue that accompanies Leafs’ games, there were nonetheless too many orange McDavid jerseys to count. And while few Sens fans seemed thrilled by the recent teardown, many took it in stride. (And few appeared to jump on the fire-sale on Mark Stone jerseys: $156 instead of the regular $260)Silvio Pantuso sat in the last row of Section 319 — nosebleed country — with his son, Mike Pantuso, and grandson, seven-year-old Madden Stephenson, on Thursday.“I feel bad that we had to let go of the top three scorers, but we’ve got some young guys coming up and, yes, the future is going to be better — we’re in pain right now, and it’s not a team the fans are enjoying — but we’re here. And I’ll keep watching them.”“I don’t feel good,” admitted Madden, who with the roster deletions of Erik Karlsson and Stone is currently without a favourite player, “but the world is full of possibilities for the future.”
Bert’s bar still has recent trades, Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, on the wall. Julie Oliver/Postmedia
Julie Oliver /
Others at Thursday’s game could see both halves of the half-filled glass.“I’m excited about the future,” said David Cox, sporting a Dany Heatley jersey, “but I’m worried that the owner (Eugene Melnyk) is screwing with the deal downtown. It’s no coincidence that the attendance here went down when the RedBlacks started playing and fans got a taste of a professional event downtown.“And over time, I’ve seen a malaise in the culture of the (Sens), and it starts at the top, starting back when (coach) Paul MacLean was fired.”Cox cites Melnyk’s threat on the eve of the Outdoor Classic game in 2017 to move the team as a singular low for the franchise. “Either the owner has to go or he has to change. ”But Cox, too, was at Thursday’s game, cheering on the Sens. “On the night after the trades, I said to my sons — one is 11 years old and the other is nine — I said, ‘Why don’t we watch the Leafs; they’re playing the Capitals.’ And my 11-year-old said ‘No, Dad. I’m a Sens fan forever.’”ALSO IN THE NEWS:CHEO’s new Centre for Genomic Innovation takes aim at rare diseasesFather of murderer sentenced to prison for drug traffickingIf not LeBreton Flats, what other central location could the Ottawa Senators consider for a new arena?