| With the early installations of “Sens Mile” signs on Elgin Street, businesses along the strip are anticipating the return of Ottawa hockey fans for the shortened NHL season.
Alison Gilchrist, Centretown News
Businesses praise the Sens Mile signs now up on Elgin Street during the NHL regular season, weeks before their annual playoff run.
Adam Malmberg, manager at the Lieutenants Pump Pub, says the Sens Mile is a great way to reignite the city’s passion for its home team.
“I think its going to unite people a little more, get people’s minds off the lockout and get people’s heads into the play-off mode. You know, really bring some passion and influence to the city,” he says.
Malmberg says getting back into the hockey spirit is important for Elgin Street after months of NHL hockey absence.
Although it’s only a few weeks into the season, he says he is already noticing a change in customer’s attitudes.
“People are walking around talking hockey, instead of trash talking hockey. People are excited, you can tell.”
Malmberg says the Senators “are such a big influence and such a big connection point to the city” that game time becomes “kind of like Christmas.”
City council unanimously voted at its last meeting on Jan. 23 to have the Sens Mile signs installed on Elgin Street, between Nepean Street and Gladstone Avenue, months earlier than expected.
Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes, who pitched the idea to council,says the early designation was approved to coincide with the shortened NHL season, instead of waiting for the playoffs, as has been customary.
“This will help support local businesses who have been affected during the lock-out,” she says.
The Sens Mile signs were installed above the street signs within days of the decision and will stay until the season is over.
Sam Eyamie, owner of The Fox and Feather, says the Sens Mile is a significant part of Ottawa.
“Ottawa’s the greatest city to be in, unlike other cities like Vancouver or Montreal, (the hockey) is a community event with a lot of atmosphere.” he says.
“Elgin is where everybody hangs out. It’s mayhem and it’s beautiful and it brings the city together.”
Keith Loiselle, owner of Woody’s Pub, agrees that the early addition of the signs to Elgin Street is a great move.
“Hockey certainly brings a lot of love to the street. Our seats fill up quickly and we have a lot of people squatting, and waiting for the game to start,” he says. “I think it's a step in the right direction, no matter how you look at it.”
Brian Karam, owner of MacLaren’s, says many of the owners of the bars and pubs along Elgin Street would like the strip to be known as “The Sens Mile” or “Red Mile” all year round.
“Elgin, the Red Mile, is not only the main street of Ottawa, it is the main street of Canada,” he says.
Karam says that the sport brings “thousands” of people to Elgin