Zubmania: Why Is Artem Zub A New Fan Favourite in Ottawa?

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TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 15: Ottawa Senators Defenceman Artem Zub (2) in warmups prior to the regular season NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs on February 15, 2021 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The phenomenon now being called, “Zubmania” has officially taken over Twitter feeds on Ottawa Senators‘ game days. Although the Senators are in fact a small market team, they have a rather passionate fan base that remains active on social media, who commonly refer to themselves as “Sens Sickos“. As of recently, the community has taken a specific interest in the team’s recent off-season acquisition, Artem Zub. This may baffle many as the player hailing from Khabarovsk, Russia, does not play with the traditional flare a fan favourite normally would. However, I think I may have established a pattern in a certain set of characteristics Artem Zub contains that Senators’ fans have latched on to in the past.

Zubmania: Why Is Artem Zub A New Fan Favourite in Ottawa?

The Pattern

For as long as I can remember, successful Ottawa Senators’ teams have always had one thing in common, that being a solid, fan favourite, stay-at-home defenseman.

This player is not the guy who is gonna pick up the puck behind his own team’s net, make a move at centre ice, and carry it into the other team’s zone to set up a tic-tac-toe play. This is the guy who is going to make the right read behind the net, find the open man on the breakout, and stay back in case anything goes wrong. It has been a couple of years since Ottawa had this guy, but the fans and experts are in agreement, and they might have found their man in Artem Zub.

The Past

When looking for the defenseman that fit this description in years past, two names immediately come to mind for me. Anton Volchenkov and Marc Methot. Volchenkov first appeared on the Senators roster in the 2002-03 season and would go onto play a crucial role in the team’s memorable run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007. In the 2006-07 season, he finished first in the league in blocked shots and was considered to be one of the league’s best hitters at the time.

Although he was never the one to fly coast to coast with the puck on his blade, he enjoyed a long tenure with the Ottawa Senators as a fan favourite.

Speaking of fan favourites, Marc Methot found his way to the Ottawa Senators in 2012, coming over from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a trade that involved the departure of Nick Foligno. When Methot stepped foot on the ice in Ottawa for the first time, he became a calming presence instantly. Serving as Erik Karlsson‘s partner on the left side, Methot found a home in Ottawa as a physical presence who hold it down in his own end whenever Karlsson decided it was time to fly. Oh, and did I mention this guy threw the meanest hip check in the league?

The Present – Zubmania

Now we have Artem Zub, so why do I think this guy fits the description? Artem Zub made his first appearance on the Sens’ roster on January 31st and made an immediate impact. He recorded one assist in his first game, and did exactly what he was put in the lineup to do, provide competent defensive zone coverage. Since that game, the Russian wonder has seen his minutes rise continuously, and found himself on the ice in crucial minutes.

For those that are familiar with Artem Zub, his success this season has not come as a surprise. Zub did not join Ottawa as a top prospect this offseason, nor is he a young gun at all. In fact, he has actually played 7 seasons in the KHL. He has represented his native Russia at the IIHF World Championships on two separate occasions and even took home a gold medal for the Olympic Athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

His signing with the Senators this summer came as a little bit of a surprise, but upon looking back, it is something that Sens fans can smile at in a season that has not gone their way.

While scrolling through Twitter a couple of weeks back, I quickly became aware of “Zubmania”. Don’t believe me? Scroll on over to your own Twitter account and simply type in the word, “Zub”. I actually tried my best, and could not find one bad thing said about him. Although Sens fans have always had a special place for their juggernaut offensive defensemen such as Erik Karlsson and Thomas Chabot, they sure do love their guys that stick back and hold down the fort.

If you are wondering my opinion on all this, I’m coming out as pro-Zub. The guy has provided the team defensive depth and security in a time where they have been struggling to find any. The fact of the matter is, Zubmania is warranted, and Zubmania is here to say.

Main Image: Embed from Getty Images

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