Sens-e of change for Havlat

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Playing the Senators doesn't have the same meaning it used to for Martin Havlat.

There is a little excitement as the former Senators winger prepares to face his former team tonight at the United Center in Chicago, but his former team has changed dramatically since Havlat was dealt to the Blackhawks in the summer of 2006.

More than half the Senators roster, in fact, has changed since the three-way deal involving San Jose that sent Havlat and centre Bryan Smolinski to Chicago. The Senators acquired defenceman Tom Preissing and centre Josh Hennessy (at Binghamton) as well as blueliner Michal Barinka (now in Europe).

"It's not the same as the first time I played them. That's for sure," said Havlat. "The names are different. There's not a lot of guys I know that well."

Signed to a three-year, $18-million deal after the trade, Havlat could be getting ready for another move.

The Hawks have promised coveted free agent Mats Sundin they'll make salary-cap room for him.

Dealing goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and his $6.75-million salary has proved to be difficult, and league sources say it might be easier to get Havlat's $6 million off the books.

Sources say GM Dale Tallon has been shopping Havlat. He is an attractive commodity with seven goals and 13 assists in 25 games, and could be moved for a high draft pick.

There are plenty of teams looking for scoring -- including the Panthers, Stars, Oilers, Wild and Jackets -- and there's no question Havlat's one of the most dynamic players in the NHL when healthy. (Havlat has suffered an assortment of injuries over his career: Groin strains, shoulders, elbows, hamstrings.)

Havlat, however, wouldn't mind staying with the Hawks -- a young, talented team that's poised to be a contender for several seasons.

Chicago signed free-agent defenceman Brian Campbell last summer, while young guns Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews are only going to improve.

"I just ignore the trade talk," said Havlat. "We've made improvements and it's only going to get better here."

The Hawks aren't alone in their pursuit of Sundin. The Rangers, Flyers, Canucks and Habs have all been aggressive, which means there could be a deal done with Sundin before the Dec. 19 roster freeze.

Ideally, Havlat will get a chance to stick around long enough to play in the Winter Classic Jan. 1 at Wrigley Field.

"Everybody is looking forward to that. The players in Detroit are as well," said Havlat, who is close friends with Red Wings' Marian Hossa. "I just hope it's not too windy."

Economic storm

Senators president Roy Mlakar's proposal of a Nov. 15 deadline for UFAs to sign was put off until the board of governors meetings at all-star weekend.

Hockey issues were knocked off the agenda by economic fears at this week's meetings in Palm Beach, Fla.

"The issue isn't just what we're going through at the moment," said Mlakar. "The issue is what we're going to be going through in the future."

Senators ticket sales are down, but only .04% -- or 71 seats a game.

But Mlakar also noted the club has cut back on costs and "will try to maintain the status quo" with staff.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca

Hartsburg returns to Chicago "three lives" later: Page 66

Playing the Senators doesn't have the same meaning it used to for Martin Havalt.

There is a little excitement as the These games don't have the same meaning for Martin Havlat.

Yes, there's a little excitement as the former Senators winger prepares gets ready to face his former team tonight at the United Center in Chicago, but his former team has changed dramatically since Havlat was dealt to the Blackhawks in the summer of 2006.re,

More than half the Senators roster, in fact, has changed since but it's not what it used to be for the Chicago Blackhawks winger, who was dealt to the Windy City in the summer of 2006.

More than half of the Ottawa roster has changed since the three-way deal involving with San Jose that sent Havlat and centre Bryan Smolinski to Chicago. The Senators acquired defenceman Tom Preissing and centre Josh Hennessy (at Binghamton) as well as blueliner Michal Barinka (now in Europe).

in exchange for defenceman Tom Preissing and along centre Josh Hennessy (at Binghamton).

and blueliner Michal Barinka (now playing in Europe).

"It's not the same as the first time I played them. That's for sure," said Havlat yesterday from Chicago. "The names are different. There's not a lot of guys I know that well. The team has changed."

Signed to a three-year, $18- million (all terms US) deal by the Hawks after the trade being acquired, Havlat could be getting ready for another mover change himself.

The Hawks have promised coveted free agent Mats Sundin they'll make salary-cap room for him.

Dealing goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and his $6.75-million salary has proved to be difficult, and league sources say it might be easier to get Havlat's $6 million a season off the books.

STYes, Chicago is a young team on the rise, but there's a strong belief if the Blackhawks

club decides to sacrifice money Havlat could be the one on the move.

League sources say Hawks' GM Dale Tallon has been shopping Havlat to see what's available. He is an attractive commodity with seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points in 25 games this season, and could be moved but could be moved by the organization for a high draft pick.

That's because the Hawks have promised UFA C Mats Sundin if he chooses to sign with them, they're going to move money. Since dealing Nikolai Khabibulin and his $6.75 million salary has proved to be difficult, sources say it might be easier to get Havlat's salary off the books.

There are plenty of teams looking for scoring --_ including the Panthers, Stars, Oilers, Wild and Jackets -- _ and there's no question Havlat's one of the most dynamic players in the NHL when healthy. (Havlat has suffered an assortment of injuries over his career: Groin strains, shoulders, elbows, hamstrings.) when he's healthy.

Havlat, however, He willis going to garner plenty of attention, but wouldn't mind staying with the Hawks -- a young, talented team that's poised to be a contender for several seasons. a long timeg in Chicago.

Chicago sThe Hawks are going to be a contender for a long time and that's why Havlat doesn't want to go anywhere. The club signed free-agent defenceman Brian Campbell as a UFA last summer, while young gunsngsters Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews are only going to improve.

"I just ignore the trade talk. It's out there and there's nothing you can do about it. I don't think about any of that stuff," said Havlat. "The thing about the situation with this team is we've made improvements and it's only going to get better here."

The Hawks aren't alone in their pursuit of Sundin and that's where it where this has gotten tricky for Chicago management. The Rangers, Flyers, Canucks and Habs have all been aggressive, which means there could be a deal done with Sundin before the Dec. 19th roster freeze.

Ideally, Havlat will get a chance to stick around long enough to play in the Winter Classic being held on Jan. 1 at Chicago's Wrigley Field..

"Everybody is looking forward to that. The players in Detroit are as well," said Havlat, who is close friends with Red Wings Detroit winger Marian Hossa. "I just hope it's not too windy."

ECONOMIC UPDATE: Senators president Roy Mlakar saystold reporters his proposal to bring in a deadline of Nov. 15th for UFA's to sign a contract was put on hold until the NHL's board of governors meetings at the all-star weekend next month. HAll hockey issues were knocked off the agenda by economic fears at this week's meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. But it's not all doom and gloom. because the governors of the 30 teams spent most of the meetings listening to experts from banks in Canada and the U.S. talk about the economy. "This year, 85% of the league revenues have already been earned," said Mlakar from Palm Beach. "(But) tThe issue isn't just what we're going through at the moment, the issue is what we're going to be going through in the future and how it will aeffect member clubs." Senators ticket sales are down, but only by .04% -- or 71 seats a game. Mlakar credits an aggressive marketing campaign, "a Mlakar said because of the club's success in the past along with an aggressive approach to marketing, sales are only down .04 percent which is the equivalent of 71 seats per-game. "We're trying to do a broad-based appeal to a younger audience and the family audience," said Mlakar." Mlakar said the club has, however, cut back on costs and He said the club has already cut back on costs and "will try to maintain the status quo" with staff.


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