BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Not all doors have been shut on the Ottawa Senators.
While most of the players were left scrambling to find work when the NHL locked them out, several Senators began training camp yesterday with the club's American Hockey League affiliate.
Centre Jason Spezza, winger Antoine Vermette, and defencemen Anton Volchenkov and Brian Pothier were all present when the Baby Sens opened camp with medicals yesterday. Today, on-ice sessions will begin and there's excitement building at Broome County Arena.
Minor-league wingers Josh Langfeld and Chris Kelly have also agreed to play in Binghamton until the collective bargaining dispute is settled, but the big buzz surrounds goaltender Dominik Hasek, who is here on a two-week conditioning stint.
"We just feel this is a good opportunity for these guys," Ottawa GM John Muckler said yesterday.
"Some of these players need to make improvements. They want to play at the NHL level and they can use this time to help improve their games. That's why we feel this is important."
Unlike his Senators teammates, Hasek isn't officially listed among the 39 players on training-camp roster as he's not competing for a spot on the Baby Sens' roster.
The veteran netminder is recovering from off-season groin surgery and agreed to spend a few weeks in the minors to shake off the rust.
Hasek, however, could sign a minor-league deal with the Baby Sens once his two-week stint is complete. But Muckler indicated Hasek may also play in the East Coast Hockey League, the OSHL (4-on-4 league) or even in Europe.
"He's moved his family to Ottawa this year. What he's expressed is he would like to play somewhere so that he's close to home and he's not far from his family," said Muckler. "We're going to try to accommodate that."
Hasek was choosing his words carefully.
"I want to see how it goes," said Hasek. "I feel good. I'm not worried about my health. I just want to keep in good shape. In two weeks, I'll sit down with John Muckler and have a talk."