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Goalie Craig Anderson.
Files: Ottawa Senator goaltender Craig Anderson
Craig Anderson has pulled on the No. 41 jersey for the Ottawa Senators for the final time.
With the start of free agency set for Oct. 9 at noon, general manager Pierre Dorion confirmed in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning that the club won’t be offering the 39-year-old an extension.
After nearly a decade with the Senators, Anderson will test the unrestricted free agent market after the Stanley Cup is awarded in Edmonton. It’s a difficult decision for the organization, but with several goaltending prospects already aboard and Ottawa doing a full rebuild, management feels the time is right for Anderson to move on.
Anderson was informed of the decision during his exit meeting with Dorion in June because the plan this season is to go with Anders Nilsson and Marcus Hogberg. As suggested in this space Tuesday, the Senators appreciate how Anderson helped take this organization to another level.
“I don’t really want to get into specifics of players in our organization but we’ve let Craig know that we won’t be offering him a contract,” said Dorion.
Acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in 2011 by the late Bryan Murray in exchange for Brian Elliott, Anderson quickly established himself as the No. 1 goalie here and had a tremendous amount of success in 435 appearances in the club’s net.
He’s the most-winning netminder in franchise history with 202 victories and, undoubtedly, his legacy in Ottawa will be fondly remembered.
“Craig should be given so much credit. It’s one of the best trades Bryan Murray ever made,” Dorion added. “He’s the winningest goalie in this organization, I’ll go on the record and say he’s the most performing goalie in this organization, the best goalie we’ve ever had.
“It’s time for us to take another direction and we thank him for everything he did.”
The reality is there is no shortage of highlights for Anderson in his career with the Senators. He picked up his 200th career win on Feb. 18th with 23 saves in a 7-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. That was the same night blueliner Chris Phillips had his No. 4 raised to the rafters.
Of course, down the road the Senators will honour Anderson for his lengthy and successful career here. He’ll definitely be a candidate to either have his No. 41 retired to join Daniel Alfredsson and Phillips, or placed in the Ring of Honour with Murray, who was the first recipient of that honour from the organization.
Nobody will ever forget Anderson’s 37-save effort and the tears in his eyes after an emotional 3-0 shutout on Oct. 31, 2016 against the Edmonton Oilers on the road, just days after learning his wife Nicholle had been diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer.
Even Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot, his opponent in the net that night, stayed on the Oilers’ bench to give Anderson a round of applause as he was introduced as the game’s first star. He did take time away to be his family during her treatments at a hospital in New York, but returned to the lineup in late-January.
That spring Anderson helped the club go on a long playoff run and the club came up just short of advancing to the Stanley Cup final. A overtime goal by Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the East final eliminated the Senators from the post-season.
That was the same day doctors told Nicholle she was cancer free, and he won the Masterton Trophy that spring. The Senators knocked off the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers in the first two series to get to the East final and it was a playoff run that won’t soon be forgotten by the people in this city.
“When we made that conference run final a few years ago everybody knows that Craig was probably our MVP and then unfortunately there was that Kunitz goal,” Dorion said. “It’s unfortunate we were never able to win a Cup with Craig, but Craig did many wonderful things for this organization.”
And, on that point, Dorion is right and it’s why Anderson will be fondly remembered by this fan base. This is a guy who has had to battle for everything he’s gotten throughout his career and there’s no reason to believe that he won’t be able to get a one-year deal elsewhere as a backup.
The belief is the Florida Panthers will show interest because they’re looking for a veteran to play behind Sergei Boborovsky, There was also speculation Wednesday that, perhaps, the Buffalo Sabres could be a fit.
Justin Duberman, Anderson’s Chicago-based agent, was traveling so he was unavailable to comment but both sides have known for awhile this was going to be the case. The fact it’s now public won’t be catching anybody off guard and the Senators wanted to make sure Anderson knows they appreciate everything he’s done for the organization.
Unfortunately, in hockey, all good things must end and, as a result, Anderson will be able to kick up his feet someday when he’s in retirement and look back at his career with the Senators fondly.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020