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Dorion expects Senators to win: 'The rebuild is done'

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Armed with a brand-new extension, Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion made some waves during his celebratory press conference with a bold proclamation.

"The rebuild is done. Now we're stepping into another zone," Dorion said, according to the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch.

The Senators caught fire toward the end of a 2020-21 campaign that saw them employ a revolving door of injured goaltenders. They secured 30 points in their last 25 games and went 16-13-4 after an abysmal January and February. The Sens were rewarded for their efforts with a sixth-place finish in the realigned North Division - decidedly not last.

"We've had a plan since we started this rebuild. I feel that we're in the next stage now, it's time to start to win," he said, according to TSN 1200 Ottawa.

"The next step for us is not to take anything for granted," Dorion added. "Last year, we felt we were a team that was hard to play against, but now it's time to challenge to get two points every night, be in every game. Games that maybe you got a point last year, you need two this year."

The NHL is returning to its usual divisions, which will have the Senators squaring off with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, and Florida Panthers on top of their usual Canadian rivals in the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. While the level of competition will increase this season, so too will the expectations for Dorion and the Senators.

"A lot of people say that, 'When you look on paper,' but that game's not played on paper. Any team can beat any other team any night in the NHL for most nights, so for us, (the goal is) to surprise people. Compete every night like we did last year."

The Senators' young guns now have another year of NHL experience under their belts, and with a new captain expected to take center stage this season, Ottawa will need them to step up.

"A lot of our younger players have reached a maturity stage in their career where they should be leading us and not be considered young players anymore. As a group, It's time to start winning."

The Sens appear to be one step closer to locking up the leader of their youth movement, as the club's talks with restricted free agent Brady Tkachuk are reportedly trending in the right direction.

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