Sens don't stand Pat

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:51 PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Senators cleared the path for Dominik Hasek yesterday, but Patrick Lalime wasn't singing the Blues.

Instead, Lalime was excited after learning the Senators had dealt him to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft.

The move opens the door for the Senators to sign Hasek after the 39-year-old Red Wings goalie becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. GM John Muckler wasn't tipping his hand, but Detroit GM Ken Holland confirmed he "has given permission to Eastern Conference teams" to speak with Hasek.

Lalime, 29, is disappointed he won't have another opportunity to win a Stanley Cup in the Senators' net, but he's determined to bounce back after an inconsistent season.

"I'm pretty excited about this move," Lalime said from his summer home in Grand-Mere, Que. "I kind of expected something like this was going to happen. It's tough to leave my teammates behind in Ottawa, but this should be a good move for me, a chance to get a fresh start.

"I know that after what happened last year in the playoffs, especially in Game 7 (against the Maple Leafs), it was going to be tough for me to go back there. The good thing is I'm going to a great organization and a great team. I'm going to get a chance to get a fresh start."

SOFT GOALS

It's believed the Senators have an agreement in principle with Hasek, but Muckler wouldn't confirm that yesterday. Instead, he maintained it would have been difficult to bring back Lalime after he gave up two soft goals to Joe Nieuwendyk in the Game 7 loss in the first round to Toronto.

"I thought Patrick Lalime performed pretty well for us and this is tough because of the type of character that Patrick Lalime is," said Muckler. "But the reality is if Patrick Lalime came back next year the pressure on him would have been tremendous.

"We want to win a Stanley Cup in Ottawa and we have to make moves we feel can help us. I have no doubt in my mind that Patrick will go to St. Louis and have success. I just think we needed to make changes because we haven't had success in the past. With this move, and trading Radek Bonk (on Saturday), it gives us options to make other moves."

Sources say the Senators thought they had a deal for Lalime with Colorado on Saturday, but Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix pulled out of the trade. The Blues, who aren't going to make a qualifying offer to goalie Chris Osgood to retain his rights, decided to make the deal yesterday during the fourth round of the draft.

Blues GM Larry Pleau said he likes the fact Lalime helped lead Ottawa to the Eastern Conference final in 2003. The Blues will have to qualify Lalime at $2.85 million US on Thursday to keep his rights, but Pleau is confident Lalime can get the job done.

"We felt it was a great opportunity to get a guy who is a No. 1 goaltender in this league," said Pleau. "He's a goaltender who still has a lot to prove and we believe that he's going to come back hungry next year. This is a guy with a lot of experience.

''He's played in the league and he knows what it takes to get to the next level."

REMAINS CONFIDENT

Lalime said he'll work hard to be consistent after posting a 25-23-7 record with a goals-against average of 2.29 and a save percentage of .905 last season.

"There's no doubt last year I didn't play the way I feel I'm capable of playing. I just wasn't consistent,'' he admitted. ''But I still feel I'm a goalie who can bring my best in the playoffs.

''I've got confidence that I can get the job done. There's no question about that."


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