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East Rutherford mayor roots for Sens after hometown team splits for Newark

The Ottawa Senators have a new No. 1 fan -- the mayor of East Rutherford, home of the New Jersey Devils.

Yesterday, Mayor James Cassella was extremely critical of the decision by the Devils owner to pick up and leave the borough this fall for Newark and is so angry that he has traded in his support for the Devils and is now cheering for the Senators.

"I wish the Ottawa Senators well," Cassella told the Sun yesterday. He said he has a soft spot for Ottawa after he made a visit here in 1999, the year after the Senators beat the Devils in the 1998 NHL playoffs.

"They treated me nicer than the Devils, so why should I be rooting for them?" he said. "They deserted us. The hospitality there (in Ottawa) was extraordinary and I would love to come up to Ottawa again."


Cassella said he also hasn't made the traditional bet with Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien because "it wouldn't be fair to make a bet because I'm also rooting for the same team."

He wouldn't acknowledge who his favourite Sens player is, but did say "anyone but the Devils."

Cassella said the Devils' move to Newark, a move he blames on the team's owners, doesn't make any sense because "70% of Newark is in a depressed state."

He said the $225 million the city is using to help build the new sports facility is a waste and should be going to education and police instead.

East Rutherford is home to the Meadowlands Sports Complex, where the Devils, the NFL's New York Giants and Jets teams play, as well as home to the NBA's New Jersey Nets and a major league soccer team.

O'Brien is thrilled with the support and said Cassella is obviously a wise and knowledgeable hockey fan.

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