If there is an NHL season, GM John Muckler predicts the Senators will be in good shape from the start.
While winger Marian Hossa has decided yesterday to leave his home town in Trencin, Slovakia, to suit up with brother Marcel in Mora, Sweden, he's not the only Ottawa player keeping himself busy during the lockout.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson has signed with Frolunda of the Swedish league, but won't begin playing until the season is officially cancelled in January. He'll likely be joined there by Ottawa defenceman Wade Redden.
In fact, only six players on the club's roster -- Greg de Vries, Dominik Hasek, Chris Neil, Peter Schaefer, Bryan Smolinski and Todd White -- haven't signed contracts to play elsewhere during the lockout.
Others, such as Jason Spezza, Brian Pothier, Anton Volchenkov and Antoine Vermette, are with the AHL's Binghamton Senators. The rest -- Martin Havlat, Chris Phillips, Zdeno Chara, Vaclav Varada and Martin Prusek -- are scattered throughout Europe.
"If there is a season, we should be in pretty good shape," said Muckler. "The guys I worry about are the guys playing in Russia. There's a lot of money being paid over there and when you have that kind of money involved, it can create competitive situations.
"I worry about injuries when you have that kind of money being paid."
Instead of worrying about what will or won't happen with the NHL season, Muckler has kept himself busy scouting. He is headed to Binghamton this weekend to get a first-hand look at a talented team that has struggled coming out of the gate.
Picked to win the AHL's Calder Cup by such noteworthy publications as The Hockey News, the Senators haven't received consistent performances from the likes of Spezza, Pothier, Vermette and Volchenkov.
"I'm disappointed because I thought we would be better than we have been," said Muckler. "One of the reasons we're not playing well is because I think the guys who are there are picking up the newspaper or turning on the television every morning to see if there's anything new in the lockout ... they want to see if there's going to be an NHL season.
"The approach can be different when you're always looking to get back to the NHL. Instead of using the extra ice time to exert their leadership and their skills, they might not be taking advantage of it the way they should be. Obviously, the concentration level has to change and the approach has to change."
Muckler would also like the players to get coach John Paddock's 500th career AHL win out of the way. The Baby Sens have missed three straight opportunities to get it for him, but they'll have another chance tonight against the Hamilton Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum.
"That would be something nice for John to accomplish and I'd like to see the players get it for him as early as possible," said Muckler.