Senators serve as blueprint

Monday, March 26, 2001 at 1:00am

When they grow up the Nashville Predators want to be just like the Ottawa Senators.

While the Predators may be the model for new expansion franchises like the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville has been heavily influenced in its infancy by the New Jersey Devils and the Ottawa Senators. As an expansion franchise the Senators entered the NHL for the 1992-93 season and struggled to reach the point where they are a Stanley Cup playoff team and one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Senators chose to build slowly through the draft and player development just like the Predators, who are near the end of the third year of a five-year plan to become a competitive player in the NHL.

In Saturday night's 4-0 loss, the Predators saw firsthand just how good the Senators have become. The loss ended a four-game unbeaten streak for the Predators and pretty much ended their slim playoff hopes. The Senators, with their 44th victory, tied their team record for victories in a season set in 1998-99.

"I knew they were good," said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. "I just forgot how good they really were. They are maturing as a team after the pain and suffering of developing draft choices."

Trotz pointed to the Senators top players

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