Lalime deal a net gain

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:54 PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Senators GM John Muckler completed his own hat trick at this weekend's draft.

First, he fired coach Jacques Martin in April. Then, Muckler sent centre Radek Bonk packing Saturday. And yesterday, the Senators dealt goalie Patrick Lalime to the St. Louis Blues.

"I'm done -- for now," Muckler said with a laugh.

In the process, Ottawa trimmed $6.35 million (all terms US) off its payroll. That should leave the club with enough cash to sign goalie Dominik Hasek to a one-year deal, worth approximately $2 million plus incentives, later this week.

The decision to deal Lalime was no surprise. The Sun reported two weeks ago the Senators were talking to Hasek, signalling that Lalime's days in Ottawa were coming to an end. The draft weekend was Muckler's best opportunity to move him.

NEW DIRECTION

Yes, Lalime is a nice guy. But once the Senators started looking for goaltending help elsewhere and informed his agent, Gilles Lupien, that they were talking to Hasek, there was no chance of the club not making a change.

The Senators simply needed to go in another direction.

"When I first got here, I talked with (Muckler) about the changes that needed to be made as we went forward and he felt it was going to be very difficult to go forward with Patrick Lalime," said Bryan Murray, Martin's successor as the Senators coach.

"I know the pressure that was on a guy like Lalime. I had Tim Cheveldae in Detroit and I know that every time he let in a bad goal, there was so much pressure on him it was tough for him to perform. Patrick Lalime was probably facing the same kind of situation in Ottawa if he had gone back there. This should be a good change for him."

Fans shouldn't be upset that Muckler only received draft picks in return for Bonk and Lalime. Trimming their salaries gives Muckler flexibility in his budget.

And what kind of budget is it going to be from owner Eugene Melnyk? Who knows? That's up to commissioner Gary Bettman, who has to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players Association.

"We have to move forward," said Muckler. "When you get to a certain point and you don't have the success that you wanted to have, you sometimes have to make changes. We felt that this was a change that we needed to make. We're going in a different direction.

"I don't think this came as a big surprise to either of these players. You get in a situation where you only have a certain amount of money to spend and we felt like that's the situation we were in. I'm not worried about players going elsewhere and having success. I hope they do. We have to do what we feel is best for our team."

PEARN OFF TO FLORIDA: Perry Pearn won't be back as a Senators assistant coach next season and is expected to end up in Florida. "I just felt if we were going to make a change, that we need to go in with a new staff," Murray said. Sources say Pearn has already agreed to join the Panthers and will be introduced as Martin's assistant later this week. Pearn, who sources say also had a job offer from Pittsburgh, has been with Martin for nine years. Meanwhile, Murray said he will start hiring his staff this week. John Paddock, coach of the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton, is considered the frontrunner for one of the assistant's posts. Former NHLers Paul Laus, Brad Shaw and Brian Skrudland are the top candidates for the second job. The word is former Senators goalie Ron Tugnutt will be hired as the goaltending coach, replacing Phil Myre.

AROUND AND ABOUT: The Senators may try to sign tough guy Matthew Barnaby, who will become an unrestricted free agent next week ... The Maple Leafs are expected to make a pitch for free-agent right winger Paul Kariya on July 1 ... Talks between the Red Wings and free-agent centre Kris Draper have resumed after being stalled midway through last week. Detroit is trying to keep Draper from testing the free-agent market. The Wings are worried the Senators and Leafs are going to make a hard pitch for Draper, who is believed to have turned down a $2.25-million-per-year offer after making $1.4 million last season. The word is the Wings will try to have a deal done with Draper by tomorrow. Proposals were exchanged in the last couple of days and sources say the two sides have moved closer to an agreement.


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