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Cup fever overtakes Parliament Hill 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:00 p.m. May 28, 2007]

OTTAWA  — Anticipation is building across this sleepy government city as the hometown Ottawa Senators play in Monday night's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final and Parliament Hill is not immune to the Cup fever. 
  
The city's downtown core has been transformed into Sensville over the past nine days since Daniel Alfredson's overtime goal eliminated the Buffalo Sabres and sent Ottawa to the Cup final for the first time since the team rejoined the NHL in 1992. 

Canadian and American flags on some downtown buildings have been replaced with flags displaying the Senators' logo, every taxi seems to have some Senators sticker, trinket or do-dad on it, and a noticeable number of government workers have turned each game day into Wear Your Senators Jersey To Work Day.  

"I'm so confident for the Senators that I call the Senators in three," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said before entering the House of Commons on Monday. 

Perhaps no MP is more excited than NDP MP Paul Dewar, the MP for Ottawa-Centre, and a hockey dad with deep family roots in the city. 

Dewar, who is predicting a Senators victory in six games, said if the team wins the Cup he wants to see it on Parliament Hill.  

"It's about time that Parliament was a showcase not just for the rest of Canada but to give back to Ottawa as a town and use this gem of a place we have here to strut our stuff for Ottawa and I couldn't think of a better place than here on the Hill," he told PoliticsWatch.

The MP said a Cup victory for the city "would be huge," especially for seniors who have childhood memories of the original Senators that played between 1910 and 1934 and won five NHL championships.

Dewar said his own father, who was a fan of the original Senators, passed away in 2003 when the Senators came within a game of reaching the finals. 

"The memories and stories that have been passed on like they were to me would be revived and come back and certainly the pride in this town and for people to finally realize that this is not just a sleepy government town."

Liberal MP David McGuinty echoed Dewar's comments about the impact a Cup victory would have on the nation's capital.   

"We've never had a major sports franchise that has done so well," he said. "Not in recent history and not on a North American and worldwide basis, so I think it would help put our Ottawa-Gatineau census metropolitan area on the map in a big way."

McGuinty is predicting the Senators will win in five games, just like they did in the three previous playoff rounds. 

Sens fever is not only affecting Ottawa-area politicians, but has even struck  die-hard fans of the Senators' chief NHL rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

"Go Sens go," said Liberal MP Dan McTeague, who represents a Toronto-area riding, but is having no difficulty taking a temporary vacation from Leaf Nation to cheer on another Canadian franchise. 

"I see them very much in the way I saw the Toronto Blue Jays who after 10 or 15 years were finally able to win the World Series not once but twice," he told PoliticsWatch. 

"So I'm saying, 'Go Sens go' this year and if the Leafs can't make it next year I'm saying , 'Go Sens go,' again." 

However, not all Leaf fans on Parliament Hill are enjoying being at ground zero while their rivals are on the cusp of the Cup glory that has eluded the Leafs for 40 years. 

Some say they will cheer on the Anaheim Ducks

"I have two favourite teams, " one Hill staffer told PoliticsWatch, "the Leafs and whoever is playing against the Sens." 

Most sports books list the Senators as an underdog to win Game 1 in Anaheim on Monday night. Las Vegas' MGM Mirage sports book lists the Ducks as a -135 money line favourite for Game One. 

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