Sens GM confident he'll keep blueliners

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

They're the two biggest cornerstones of the Senators' blue-line brigade.

And GM John Muckler has no intention of giving up either one of them.

While the Senators have to wait until Jan. 1, 2006 to sign Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara to new contracts, Muckler said yesterday the club has every intention of working out contract extensions with both players.

It's an option that wouldn't have been possible if winger Marian Hossa had accepted the club's offer of a five-year, $30-million (all figures US) deal on the weekend. But when Hossa turned it down, that sealed his fate in Ottawa and he was dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday.

"Earlier in the summer we went to three players -- Wade Redden, Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa -- and we proposed that we were going to try to get all three players signed at the same price," said Muckler. "Two of the players were willing to buy into the plan and third -- which was Hossa -- was not. After that, we knew we had a problem and that came about the time (Atlanta GM) Don Waddell called (about Dany Heatley). We kept trying to get Hossa signed, but eventually we had to make a decision to move on."

Redden and Chara have both been asked if they want to stay in Ottawa for the long term and both have indicated they're happy here. The two players haven't held any serious discussions with Senators management in the last 10 days, but both are willing to listen.

"I can't comment on any discussions because we haven't had any lately, but Zdeno Chara is happy with the Senators," said his agent, Matt Keator.

"I have called (assistant GM Peter Chiarelli) and haven't heard back, but I think that's because they've spent the last 10 days focused on trying to get this Hossa situation sorted out."

Locking up Redden and Chara has now moved to the top of Muckler's to-do list.

"That's our priority, to get those players signed, and I'm confident we'll be able to get that done," said Muckler. "We want Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara as part of this team. We asked these guys if they wanted to be here and they both said they did.

"Marian Hossa indicated before the arbitration that he was going to take a one- year settlement and then go on the unrestricted market."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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