Top 3 in Ottawa history, admired in the NHL. How Pizza Line played
“Championship” continues a series of materials about the great attacking troikas in the history of world hockey. In the first part, we talked about two famous Pittsburgh Penguins’ pairings between the Canadian center Mario Lemieux and the Czech striker Jaromir Jagr , which forged the glory of the Pennsylvania club in the 90s XX century.
The legendary Pittsburgh triplets with Lemieux and Jagr. Their game was admired from Russia to America
How these combinations were created, what they achieved and how they disintegrated. They were called the “golden triangle” and “sky line”.
Today we will analyze the history of the creation and disintegration of the best three in the history of the Ottawa Senators according to the North American edition of ESPN – a combination of Dani Heatley , Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson . This attacking line entered the history of hockey under the name Pizza Line or CASH Line (stands for: Captain Alfredsson, Specza, Heatley).
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Link formation history
Pizza Line was formed in the 2005/2006 season. Before the start of the regular season, Ottawa made a loud exchange with Atlanta Thrashers. As a result of the trade, the “senators” got the Heatley, in turn, releasing from the team the Slovak forward Marian Gossu and the Canadian defender Greg de Vries . Heatley on the same day signed a contract with Ottawa, which was calculated for three years and a total of $ 13.5 million.
By the time he joined the Heatley team, the Canadian Spezza had been serving Ottawa faithfully for four years. The club selected the No. 2 center in the 2001 National Hockey League Draft. Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk left under the first pick in that draft. It is curious that Kovalchuk was drafted by the same Atlanta, with whom the fateful exchange was later made. The third was chosen another Russian, Alexander Svitov, whom fate brought to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Alfredsson by the start of the 2005/2006 season was already considered a veteran and the most respected player of the Senators. He, like Jason, ended up in the Canadian club as a result of his choice in the draft. However, unlike Spetstsa, the Swedish striker was chosen only in the fourth round under the overall 133rd number. Alfie has played for the Senators since 1995, and in 1999 he was promoted to team captain.
Pizza Line made its debut on October 5, 2005 in the NHL regular season match with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Initially, Spezza came out in the top three with Heatley and future Kontinental Hockey League star Brandon Bochensky. Bochenski and Spezza had already played together in the AHL during the 2004 lockout, so then-head coach Brian Murray put them together. But within five minutes after the starting throw-in, Murray will replace Bochenski with Alfredsson, who will score a goal in just a minute. Then Heatley scored, bringing victory to the team. From that very moment, Pizza Line appeared.
Club Records and Best Season in Ottawa History
This name was given to the Spetzza troika for the fact that every time Ottawa scored five or more goals at the home arena, the owners of the season tickets relied on slices of pizza. And this combination scored constantly. What are the top three offensive players in club history?
It is not so easy to answer this question unequivocally. On the one hand, the Spetzza troika has broken many club records, setting sky-high benchmarks for future generations of players. On the other hand, Ottawa did not win the Stanley Cup at the CASH Line, although in one of the seasons they got as close to it as possible.
The best season in the history of the Senators was spent in the second year of the life of Pizza Line. Sens confidently advanced to the playoffs from first place in the Northeast Division. In the Stanley Cup, they went through three rounds with a total score of 12-3. The Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabers were consecutively knocked out 4-1. However, in the final, the Senators ran into the Anaheim Ducks and got 1-4 themselves.
The Ducks won 3: 2 and 1: 0 in the first two meetings in California, respectively. The third game, in “Corel Center”, already remained for “Ottawa” – 5: 3, but the fourth was won again by “Anaheim” – 3: 2. The fifth match was held with a total advantage of the Californian team, which resulted in the final result – 6: 2 in the match and 4-1 in the series. The key factor in the victory of the ducks was the complete neutralization of the top three of Ottawa’s attack and the phenomenal play of the goalkeeper Jean-Sebastian Zhiguer . Losing the Stanley Cup Finals remains the greatest achievement in Ottawa history to this day.
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The CASH Line lasted only four seasons. After the defeat in the final against Anaheim, the team’s affairs began to decline sharply. Next season, Ottawa will loosely lose to Pittsburgh (0-4) in the first round of the playoffs. And in the 2008/2009 championship, the Senators will not make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. At the same time, Heatley will begin conflicts with the head coach Corey Cluston . The Canadian forward approached the club’s management with an exchange demand, which was granted.
“When I signed a contract with Ottawa two years ago, I felt like an integral part of the team. Over the past two years, and especially over the last season, my role has become less significant. Over the past year, it has significantly decreased. My decision was dictated exclusively by hockey reasons. I have nothing against the fans or the city. I would like to play where I can maximize my potential, ”explained Heatley.
Heatley explained why he asked Ottawa to trade him
As a result, in 2009 Heatley was traded to the San Jose Sharks for Milan Michalek , Jonathan Chichu and a second round pick of the next draft. At the Senators, Dani has set a couple of franchise records that have been in force so far: most goals in a season (50) and a record on points in a season (105).
Great players without a Stanley Cup win
Of this trinity, only 37-year-old Spezza continues his career, still cherishing the dream of winning the coveted trophy. In his career, Jason participated in the NHL All-Star Game, was the title of the best assistant and Stanley Cup scorer, there was even a gold medal at the 2015 World Championship, where he was nominated as the best forward of the world championship. However, the Canadian striker did not manage to raise the cup over his head at the moment. Jason spent the past season in the Toronto Maple Leafs camp on a minimum contract. The NHL veteran spent most of his time in the fourth line, gaining 25 points in 58 regular season matches. In the playoffs, Spezza did not score with effective actions, and his club was knocked out of the draw at the play-in stage, losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets (2-3).
Yashin and Volchenkov joined the symbolic team of the best Ottawa players of all time
Swede Alfredsson spent almost his entire career in Ottawa – 17 seasons. Daniel left the Senators just before the 2013/2014 season, signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. Alfredsson also hoped to win the Stanley Cup and left the club to do so.
“I spoke to Alfie the day before, he decided that it would be right to call me. We discussed everything, he shared with me his point of view on the situation. To be honest, I was surprised. I would never have guessed that, having made the decision to pursue a career, he might return not to Ottawa. He justified his decision to me. Alfie knows what she wants out of her career. As a player, I can understand his desire to win the Stanley Cup, and he thinks that this transition will give him that opportunity. We support him, and there will be nothing wrong with him on our part, “Spezza said in April 2013.
However, Detroit and Alfredsson failed, after which the Swede announced his retirement. Now the hockey player holds Ottawa records for the number of matches played, goals scored, assists and points scored. He remains the only player in club history to break 1,000 appearances for the Senators, and his 11th number is permanently retired.
Ottawa removed Daniel Alfredsson’s number from circulation
39-year-old Heatley retired from hockey in 2016 after a season in the German championship. Dani, like his legendary partners, also did not make it to the main trophy in NHL history. A hockey player’s career is decorated with the title of Olympic champion and a large number of individual awards. Russian fans will probably remember the Canadian for his short voyage to Ak Bars during the lockout. Heatley played 15 matches for the Kazan club, gaining 7 (5 + 2) points.