TORONTO -- Asked how close the Senators were to signing Eric Lindros this summer, GM John Muckler spread his hands as far apart as he could.
"This close," said Muckler, relaxing in the stands yesterday at the Air Canada Centre. "Actually, not close at all. We offered him a contract in the morning and he signed with the Leafs in the afternoon. I don't think he intended to sign with us at all."
The Senators' offer was competitive with the one-year, $1.55-million (all figures US) deal Lindros accepted from Leafs GM John Ferguson. Sources say Ottawa offered Lindros a $1.5 million deal for this year, but Muckler wouldn't confirm it.
"I spoke with his father (Carl) and I spoke with him (Lindros) and we were serious about signing him," said Muckler. "I just don't think we had much of a chance of getting him. All we did was get him a raise and force the Leafs to spend more money."
Lindros wouldn't talk about the Senators' offer yesterday.
"That's all water under the bridge," he said. "This is where I wanted to be," said Lindros. "I'm happy to be here."
RUMOUR CENTRAL: There's talk the Boston Bruins are getting ready to make changes with training camp just a week old. The word around Beantown is the Bruins could deal D Hal Gill in order to free up money to sign restricted free agent D Nick Boynton, who isn't in camp. The Bruins have spent close to $38 million and they'd like to keep young D Mark Stuart, who has impressed in camp. It's believed there are several teams -- including the Leafs, Rangers, Kings, Avalanche and Canucks -- interested in acquiring Gill. The Bruins solved one problem by getting free-agent G Andrew Raycroft signed to a new deal ... The Senators haven't heard from D Jason York, an Ottawa native, since they offered him a free-agent tryout in the summer. They still might bring him in to push D Christoph Schubert and D Andrej Meszaros for a job.
AROUND THE BOARDS: What did Hockey Night in Canada's No. 1 team of Bob Cole and Harry Neale do during the lockout? Other than spending a lot of time on the golf course and working around the house, Cole and Neale were in Los Angeles acting as the voices for the NHL 2K6 video games on X Box and PlayStation. "We went down there in March. We were in a small studio for 6-to-8 hours a day and we read from a script," said Neale. "We wouldn't have had a chance to do it if there wasn't a lockout, but it helped to get some work for a week." ... The Red Wings haven't heard from winger Pavel Datsyuk since he signed with a Russian team. The club is still hopeful to have him back for the start of the season, but at the moment the chances are slim ... Few insiders were surprised to see LW Keith Tkachuk suspended by the Blues for showing up at camp out of shape ... Toronto coach Pat Quinn likes Senators RW Dany Heatley. "(The Senators) got themselves a real good player," said Quinn.