Leclaire comes up shorts

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

On a cool, damp morning at the Kanata Golf and Country Club, Pascal Leclaire looked like he either knew something the rest of them didn't or he hadn't been listening to J.J. Clarke.

The slight Senators goalie was wearing shorts.

"I wanted to show off my calf muscles," Leclaire explained with a snicker just prior to the commencement of the team's annual charity tournament. "I worked on them all summer long. I thought they were nice and sculpted, so I just wanted to share the goods with everybody."

Okay, and now the truth?

"I don't have any golf pants or anything, so it was jeans or shorts, and that's the cleanest thing I could find," Leclaire said. "That's the scoop."

For a guy whose first season as a Senator was interrupted by a broken cheekbone when he was hit by a puck while sitting on the bench and again later by a concussion after getting nailed with a shot in practice, Leclaire was throwing caution to a brisk breeze. Perhaps it was that realization that led him to his car, to pick up a scarf, after just one hole.

"Figured I have it, so I might as well use it," he said.

Surprising coach Cory Clouston didn't run over and wrap a big sweater around him before that.

Last thing his team needs is for Leclaire to come down with a pneumonia the day before medicals.

Wouldn't be a good sign.

"I don't think he was ever 100% healthy last year," Clouston said of "Pazzy." "When I talked to him, looking at the physical condition that he's in, he was able to do a lot more things this summer, because of his ankle, and how much better health he's in. I think that's going to allow him to have a much better season, a more consistent season.

"I think all his bad luck has kind of run out on him now. Some good luck, I think, is coming his way."

Just the same, Clouston isn't about to anoint Leclaire his No. 1 goalie over Brian Elliott just yet. Even though a cold Leclaire made 56 saves with the Senators facing elimination in Pittsburgh last April. Even though Leclaire had a 2.84 GAA and .920 save percentage in the playoffs, while Elliott was 4.14 and .853.

Even though Leclaire will make $3.8 million (all terms US) this season while Elliott earns $850,000.

"That's what camp is for," Clouston said when asked who his No. 1 goalie will be. "Each goaltender is going to determine how much they're going to play (by) how well they play in camp, and how well they perform in the preseason games. It's going to determine a long way who's going to get the bulk of the games, at least to start, and we'll see how that plays out."

Asked if Leclaire's post-season performance didn't earn him any credits, Clouston was succinct.

"Everything matters," he said, "but it's a brand new season."

The 25-year-old Elliott stood tall when Leclaire went down last season. For the most part. He was also inconsistent.

"Over the last three years, I don't know if there's a player in our organization who has improved as much as he has," said Clouston.

That may be so, but the Senators are in trouble if Leclaire isn't their guy.

THIS AND THAT

Before hitting the links Thursday, Daniel Alfredsson was asked if, as the team's top golfer, he was feeling pressure to play well. "I don't know if there's pressure ... I expect to be the best," he joked. Then, in a startling revelation, Alfredss on added: "( Alex) Kovalev hasn't played much this summer, because of his knee injury, but he beat me in the spring, so I can't claim the title right now." Who knew ... Alfredsson did almost score an ace at the tournament last year. "A lot of us have had almosts," he said. " Still looking for my first one." ... TSN analyst (and Ottawa lawyer) Jock Climie, when asked if he'd be interested in a job with the nation capital's new CFL team. "Yeah," said Climie, who played in the Senators tournament. "Ball boy." ... Veteran agitator Jarkko Ruutu went to Thailand for two weeks after last season ended. "I'd never been there and I wanted to go to see what it's like," said Ruutu. "It was fun, a little different. What I love the most about it is the food. Great food." Whose skin did Ruutu crawl under during the summer? "I'm trying to stay away from that stuff," he said. You're reformed? "No, let's be honest here," said Ruutu. "I guess it comes natural."

STRINGIN' ALONG

Morning man extraordinaire Mark Papousek and his fund-raising team (the Y101 Bootscooters) are holding their 13th annual tournament at Pakenham Hylands Golf Club Friday, and an item they've put up on eBay is a Fender Guitar donated by Bobby Lalonde Music that was signed by Mike Fisher and his bride, Carrie Underwood. Last year, the couple signed a Fisher jersey that went for $5,000, and it makes no sound at all. The auction for the guitar ends at 8:30 a.m. Friday. Check it out. Proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation ... Thursday's tourney raised $120,000.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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