Craig Anderson turns 39 on May 21, a relatively old age for an NHL goaltender.
Yet the Ottawa Senators pillar does not seem ready to retire, although he is nearing the end of his contract in Ottawa.
“I haven’t given much thought to future plans,” said Anderson in a video conference on Wednesday. “I’m sort of trying to stay in the moment as best I can … focus on the” what if “with what we’re going through to the current season … can we come back and finish our season?
“We are going to cross the bridge for future plans, but for now, I’m missing the game like crazy. I want to be on the ice, I want to be there competing with my teammates, so right now, that would be the way I lean, the way I want to participate. And keep doing what I love everyday. “
Considering his team is in 30th place, Anderson has had a decent season with 11 wins in 34 games, a save percentage of .902 and an average of 3.25. We could argue in favor of Anderson’s return as a mentor to the organization’s young goalkeepers, but with Anders Nilsson on contract and Marcus Hogberg just finishing a solid season for the two veterans, there may not be be no room for a 39- year-old UFA waiting. Waiting behind the scenes is several goalkeeper perspectives, including Joey Daccord, Filip Gustavsson, Mads Sogaard and Kevin Mandolese.
NHL season, and possibly Anderson’s career, could have ended on March 11 in Los Angeles – Senators players wondering aloud if match would even be played after Utah star Jazz Rudy Gobert has tested positive for COVID-19. Jazz had played at Staples Center the day before. Several others in a wide range of sports were subsequently tested positive, including seven with the Senators – five players, a staff member and broadcaster Gord Wilson.
If the 2019-20 regular season is canceled and Anderson has to retire on such a bizarre note, he agrees with that.
“I’m sort of rolling with it and letting the chips fall where they can,” he says. “As an individual, I hope we can go back and play and finish the year but it is beyond my control.
“If this is something I may have done to spoil things, I would be in a different boat but at the moment I’m not too worried about it. It’s not under my control, so I don’t want to put too much energy into this stuff. “
If it was his swan song – a 3-2 defeat to Anderson stopping 36 of the Kings ’39 shots – he will be fondly remembered for several memorable nights in the Senators’ goal. The first to come to mind was his emotional return to Edmonton on October 30, 2016, after being on leave to support his wife, Nicholle, in his cancer treatment. Anderson threw a 2-0 shutout, tears streaming down his face as he skated on the ice as the first star of the game.
Senators all-time leader in regular season games played by a goaltender (435), Anderson remembers his 40 playoff games with Ottawa fondly, and in particular the unexpected run in the Conference Finals. the East in 2017. Anderson has been remarkable in every series, including victories against the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers.
“Our fan base became absolutely electric and dynamic as we approached the playoffs, so it was something we were looking forward to,” said Anderson.
We often hear about the man who wears No. 41 in Ottawa as a candidate for retirement in his jersey, alongside Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips. (Wingman Chris Neil is another popular candidate). If he finished, Anderson would finish with a career mark of 202-168-46 Senators with a save percentage of .914 and an average of 2.84. His playoff numbers are even better: 21-18 and .928 and 2.30.
Anderson also played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche. He came to the Colorado Senators in an exchange for Brian Elliott in 2011. He has played 648 NHL games and has 289 wins.
The future is bright
With or without him, Anderson sees a bright future for the Senators’ organization, led by Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot.
“We have many, many good songs that are young, energetic, good leaders – guys who are ready to do the job and do it the right way,” says Anderson. “They’re just going to drag the other guys who are a bit on the fence. So the future is bright. “
This will take time as the young players will mature and additions of veterans will be made.
“I’m a little excited for these guys, I’m also a little sad on my part, because by the time we add all the pieces, I will definitely be out of the league,” said Anderson.
Anderson has been at home in Florida since mid-March and spent most of his days helping Nicholle with virtual school tasks involving their two boys, Jake, 8, and Levi, 6.
“We educate children almost every day,” says Anderson. “They have several Zoom calls with their teachers and a whole bunch of homework. So I had to take on certain duties this way. “
Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people in the hockey world, then tell the listeners everything they’ve heard and what they think.
Not opposed to playoff games on empty sites
Anderson’s first wish in hockey is to end the season.
“We want to start playing again and do what we are supposed to do everyday,” he says.
But if the regular season is canceled, Anderson would have no problem seeing his peers make the playoffs in empty arenas, if that’s what it takes to return to NHL hockey this summer.
“I think right now everyone is looking for something to watch on TV,” he said. “You have seen NASCAR and IndyCar jump into the virtual world. We don’t have the luxury of being able to play this sport as a video game, so I think we are open to anything. We would have a lot of fan bases to listen to if we could go to national shows with the hockey that is happening now.
“Me and the other players are all interested. This brings us back to our usual routine, which we love to do. It also gives our fans – even if they’re not at the match – it gives them something to listen to at home. Get out of the monotony of this quarantine. “
If the regular season starts again, Anderson says a veteran goalie like him would need two weeks notice to mentally prepare to play again.
Passion for motorsport
Anderson’s well-known passion for racing comes naturally. Her father Richard used to run Corvettes and founded Motorsport Ministries. Craig and his brother also run and have converted this passion into simulated car racing or computer simulated car racing. Anderson has published many of his efforts on iRace online and admits that he will find a place for motor racing in his life after his retirement from hockey.
“Sim racing is becoming a tool for real pilots who hone their skills without actually going to the track,” says Anderson. “So I would like to think that I use racing simulation as a springboard to learn new tracks and different cars.
“We will see where it goes. It comes back to time. I have put so much time and effort into hockey, I owe it to my family that I have to give it back and be more involved that way. So it’s going to be a balancing act to see how far I can get away from the family for sim racing or motorsport. “
Richard Deitsch and Donnovan Bennett are hosting a podcast on the impact of COVID-19 on sports around the world. They speak to experts, athletes and personalities, providing a window into the lives of the people we normally look for in entirely different ways.
Anthony LeBlanc enters the breach as Senators executive
He is easily in the running for the least secure position in all professional sports – the position of senior business with the Senators. In the breach goes Anthony LeBlanc, named Monday president of the Senators’ commercial operations. LeBlanc, an Ottawa resident and longtime Senators subscription holder, was CEO and co-owner of the Arizona Coyotes from 2013 to 2017. He was also a founding partner of Schooner Sports and Entertainment, a group determined to bring the CFL to Halifax.
“I am delighted to be appointed president of business operations with the Senators,” LeBlanc said in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with the entire staff as we prepare for an exciting chapter in the history of the Senators.”
LeBlanc becomes the fourth senior executive to be hired since the club’s founder and CEO, Cyril Leeder, was laid off by Eugene Melnyk in late January 2017. Since that time, just over three years ago, Tom Anselmi, Nic Ruszkowski and Jim Little have gone from Roles of CEO or COO. Little was hired on January 10 this year and disappeared in less than two months.