Sens are facing home-ice freeze

Bruce Garrioch -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:45 AM ET

TORONTO -- Senators players currently skating at the Corel Centre will be forced to pack up their equipment today. By the time the likes of Todd White, Chris Kelly, Dominik Hasek, Mike Fisher, Chris Phillips and Jason Spezza step off the ice around noon, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the league's board of governors will have decided there will be a lockout, delaying the Senators' training camp scheduled to begin Friday.

The lockout also forces players to scatter for ice time as the Corel Centre will be shut down and unavailable for use.

Spezza and Hasek will likely report to Binghamton's training camp when it opens Sept. 26 and neither will be allowed to skate with any help from the Senators' training staff until that point.

Winger Martin Havlat, who's expected to sign a one-year, $2.3-million (all terms US) contract sometime in the next 24 hours, will also be asked to leave the building.

"Until the lockout is over, we know we're not going to be allowed to go back (to the Corel Centre)," said White, a centre entering his fifth season with the Senators."It's not the ideal situation, but (a lockout is) something that we've been expecting.

'Don't believe in cap'

"I don't believe in a salary cap and nor do a lot of people. I have no idea how long (the lockout) will last. I'm surprised we got to this point. I thought the concessions we made last year on Oct. 1 would have been a good starting point for discussions. The players tried to address the owners' problems and they weren't interested."

Instead of getting together for medicals and beginning the pursuit for the Stanley Cup this weekend, the Senators players will head in different directions until the collective bargaining agreement is settled.

White, Hasek, Fisher, Chris Neil and Josh Langfeld are headed for the Original Stars Hockey League training camp, which opens tomorrow in northern Toronto. The first game of the four-on-four league is being played the following night in Barrie.

There was talk Hasek would play Friday for the OSHL's Detroit entry, but he has told teammates privately he likely won't arrive there right away.

Right now, the plan for Hasek is to take part in a series of conditioning stints in Binghamton.

Though players aren't going to get rich off the OSHL, they are going to get a chance to suit up. That's probably a better option than sitting around in Ottawa waiting to see if they can skate with some junior teams.

"The way the OSHL is work-

ing, it looks like I'm going to be gone for 10 or 11 days while touring different cities, be home for four or five to (spend

time with) my family again and

then I'll be gone for another 10 days," said White, who will play on the Boston entry in the hastily-formed league.

OSHL 'GOOD OPTION'

"I'm not happy about what's happening, but I don't have much of a choice. At least with the four-on-four, it's going to keep me playing. I'm going to be able to stay in playing shape rather than just going out with a bunch of guys skating. The four-on-four is a good option."

Nobody is sure what course of action this lockout will take, although it's a certainty this will get ugly. Bettman has decided to make a salary cap his mantra and he can't be convinced of anything different.

This has left several players looking for homes -- including defenceman Wade Redden. After taking part in the World Cup, Redden will return to Ottawa today to meet with the Senators' training staff about his injured shoulder which is still not completely healthy.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I guess I'll go back to Ottawa for a week and then probably go to Calgary and hang around a little bit," said Redden, who wasn't in Canada's lineup last night against Finland.

"I'm going to stay in shape by skating and working out, but I haven't given much thought to playing at this point."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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