Fan Fuel: Curse of Ron Tugnutt


With Craig Anderson’s latest injury where he cut a tendon in his pinky finger doing some late night sandwich making (or so the story goes), it got me thinking about how long it’s been since the Ottawa Senators had a good, stable, freak-injury free goalie. Friends, it’s been a while.

It actually got me thinking to one of my favourite Sens goalies of all time: Ron Tugnutt. You know how the Leafs have the King Clancy curse? Well we might actually have the Ron Tugnutt curse for how we unceremoniously got rid of this beloved man. Let me tell you the story.

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The Ottawa Senators have gone through a lot of goalies in their 20 year history. From their first goaltender, Peter Sidorkiewicz, to their new number one, Craig Anderson, with guys like Jani Hurme, Damian Rhodes, Ray Emery, Patrick Lalime, Tom Barrasso, and even the Dominator, Dominik Hasek, in between.

But there was no one I loved more than Ron Tugnutt. Maybe it’s because he played for us when we were peaking as a franchise, maybe it’s because he played for us during Jacques Martin’s reign, or maybe it’s because with him in net I won the Stanley Cup 10 times in a row on my computer playing EA Sports’ NHL 99.

Whatever the reason, all I know is I loved that guy and I was never as sad about a trade as the day we traded Tugger for Tom Barrasso. Honestly, it’s been over ten years now and it still gets to me.

It was Trade Deadline Day, year 2000. I was in university but I guess I didn’t have class that day, or I skipped it (sorry Mom). I went over to my buddy’s place (ok, his parents’ place) because we were going to spend Deadline Day hanging out and watching the trade action on TV. I get there and my buddy’s in his bathrobe, making a bacon sandwich. Yes, a strictly bacon sandwich. It was going to be the best day!

And then suddenly it was announced on the television. Ron Tugnutt’s been traded. My heart sank. Not only was he traded, but Tugnutt was one of those unfortunate players who found out they were traded by watching the TV.

He did a phone interview shortly after it was announced and you could tell he was pretty down about the whole thing. So was I.

Tugger was the best goalie we’d ever had. The year before he was traded, he played 43 games and had a 1.79 GAA and a .925 save percentage. And we traded this guy. We traded him partly because of his struggles in the playoffs, and I guess I understand that. We didn’t make it out of the first round for the three years he was here. However, one year we came so close.

Tugnutt played for us when the Buffalo Sabres were our most bitter rival, with Dominik Hasek (the villain!) leading the way. When we got Hasek to play for our team it was like we sold our soul to the Devil (but that’s a different blog). Tugger’s first playoffs with Ottawa brought us to Game 7, overtime, against the Sabres. And then, fate dealt us a bad glove-hand.

In overtime, Derek Plante of the Sabres took a slapshot from the top of the circle, just inside the blue line. Even Tugnutt will tell you he should have made that save. And he would have too, if he hadn’t been wearing some worn down old glove. The puck actually went through it! You can watch it here, but I warn you, it’s sad:

Regardless of any playoff woes, Ron Tugnutt was a great goalie for Ottawa, and he played during a special period of our franchise, with guys like Wade Redden, Alexei Yashin, Daniel Alfredsson, Shawn McEachern, and Jason York. He was a real character guy and he’ll always have a special place in this Sens fan’s heart.

We should never have traded him that year. At the very least, Marshall Johnston, the general manager at the time, should have let him know before the television did. That was disgraceful.

And that is why the Senators are cursed. The Ron Tugnutt curse.

Tugger, forgive us!

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