Former Senators owner: “I think this market is not yet like Toronto, and please, God, it won’t get like that”

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The Ottawa Senators surpassed expectations in 2011-12 by making the playoffs. It’s entirely possible that they’ll regress a bit next season – especially if Daniel Alfredsson retires – but overall, the future seems bright for them.

Which is vital for the survival of the team, because former Senators owner Rod Bryden doesn’t think that the Ottawa fanbase will pay to see the team if there’s a lack of both on-ice talent and front office vision.

“I think this market is not yet like Toronto, and please, God, it won’t get like that,” said Bryden. “But I don’t think the fans will come notwithstanding a team that doesn’t know what it’s doing.

“I think a persistently bad team would have lots of trouble here.”

Bryden is bashing Toronto over the belief that the fans of Ottawa’s bitter rivals will pay to see the team play regardless of the product on the ice. He sees it as a positive that, in his mind, Senators fans won’t do the same.

At the same time, he did praise Senators fans for sticking with their team during the rebuilding process.

“They were pretty supportive of the need to make some changes and possibly miss the playoffs,” said Bryden. “If that were to go on for a few years though, I think you’d see a fairly quick erosion of attendance.”

The Maple Leafs, along with the Senators, are engaged in a rebuilding process, but so far Toronto hasn’t been able to reach the postseason. Still, depending on how their summers go, there’s a legitimate chance that both clubs will end up making the playoffs in 2012-13.