"It's done." Senators centre Bryan Smolinski doesn't think there's any chance there'll be any kind of season after the NHL announced it was cancelling its board of governors meeting next Friday.
"But I really think it was probably that way even before it started," said Bryan Smolinski yesterday from his Detroit home. "I can't believe we're not going to play and you keep hoping that we're going to have some kind of a season because you'd think they could find a system that works for both sides.
"Am I antsy? Of course I am, I want to play. I just think we've shown more willingness to negotiate than the owners."
With all hope of an NHL season vanishing, players are scrambling to find work.
Senators winger Chris Neil signed a card to play with the Durham Thundercats in a Senior A League. He wanted to join the team for a game last night, but found out someone has thrown up a roadblock.
"I've got my agent Todd Reynolds working on it because this is not a team that competes for the Allan Cup," said Neil on the phone from Flesherton yesterday. "I'm getting tired of playing semi-pro with my dad on Sunday nights.
"It's just a case of somebody not being happy that I signed a card here. I'm trying to get this resolved quickly because you have to play five games to play in the playoffs and they've only got five left."
Neil is not alone in his quest to play. Senators defenceman Wade Redden told the Sun he'll return to Ottawa next week and hopes to join captain Daniel Alfredsson with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League.
He pushed his plans ahead after the NHL cancelled its meeting.
"I've got to get in touch with Daniel in the next few days to get things ironed out," said Redden from Edmonton. "I'm kind of in denial that there's not going to be a season, but it doesn't look very good.
"There's no use waiting any longer. It's going to be tough at first because I haven't been playing any games, but I think I'll be okay once I get the first few under my belt. I've been skating with a few guys here and I'm looking forward to getting back to playing. There's just a few issues left for me to get completed."
Meanwhile, Sens winger Martin Havlat has left Moscow Dynamo, where he was being paid $300,000/month, and returned to his home town in the Czech Republic.
"He went there to play and get ready for the NHL regular season," said Allan Walsh, Havlat's agent. "But since it doesn't look like there's going to be one, he wants to go home and get ready to play for his country (in a tournament in Sweden in February)."