Ottawa Senators star Tim Stützle is confident that his team is on the rise in the Atlantic Division and provided some candid parting advice to a former teammate turned rival.
Stützle reiterated his belief in the Senators despite missing the postseason in each of his first three seasons, while also taking a parting shot at former linemate Alex DeBrincat, who was dealt to his hometown Detroit Red Wings in July after just one season in Ottawa.
“If he doesn’t want to be there, I don’t want to make him have to be there,” Stützle said of DeBrincat to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek. “You know, like, that’s fine to us. I think the whole group, we’ve been saying it, we want him to stay. We want him to be part of this group and he’s a great guy, great player.
“If you don't want to be there, then good luck on your way."
Stützle also demonstrated that there’s been a commitment from the Senators’ core to buy into their long-term vision, with Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk, Claude Giroux, Thomas Chabot, Jake Sanderson and Jakob Chychrun all signed through the 2024-25 season.
“I think you can just tell those guys who signed long-term, they really want to be here. And yeah, that’s the biggest part for us.”
It nevertheless remains telling that DeBrincat never bought into the vision with the Senators, ultimately deciding against a long-term commitment in the Nation's Capital. A microwave scorer prone to defensive lapses, DeBrincat recorded 27 goals and 66 points while playing in all 82 games during his lone season with the Senators.
Stützle, meanwhile, inked an eight-year, $66.8 million extension last September, reaffirming his status as one of the franchise’s pillars upon being selected third overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Both the Senators and Red Wings are expected to be among the quiet risers in the Eastern Conference this coming season, with each club showing growth and impatience amidst prolonged rebuilds. Stützle’s comments about DeBrincat are also poised to infuse a dormant divisional rivalry in what could be the first step towards the changing of the guard in the Atlantic Division.