Anxious Sens await Havlat exam results

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:37 PM ET

No news cannot be good news for Martin Havlat.

It's been five days since the Senators winger suffered a dislocated right shoulder on a hit from Montreal's Michael Ryder and the club still hasn't announced how long he's going to be sidelined.

Prior to last night's visit by the Los Angeles Kings, coach Bryan Murray indicated that GM John Muckler would provide an update when the club had the results of Havlat's MRI exam.

Those results were sent to a shoulder specialist in Cleveland and surgery hasn't been ruled out.

There are two possible scenarios:

- Havlat will be given rehab options by the specialist and could be gone 4-6 weeks, which would put him back in the lineup by mid-January.

- The specialist determines surgery is required, which some hockey experts estimate could mean a 4-6 month recovery period. At best, Havlat would return by the end of the regular season.

"We don't know anything yet,'' said Murray. ''We are still waiting for the results from the specialist. He's going to look at the MRI ... I would think we'll have something soon."

Losing Havlat for an extended period would be a big blow to the Senators. No offence to winger Brandon Bochenski -- who was called up from AHL Binghamton in Havlat's absence -- but he hasn't had any 35-goal NHL seasons.

Part of the reason the Senators have been so successful this season is their depth. Still, it's no accident that Havlat wasn't in the lineup for three of Ottawa's four losses this season.

One of the fastest players in the NHL, Havlat's also smart and helps take the offensive pressure off of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson.

As Murray pointed out the other day, the club could have easily placed Havlat with Spezza and Heatley, instead of Alfredsson, after Bochenski struggled in the early going on the club's top line.

But Havlat has looked good alongside Bryan Smolinski and Peter Schaefer, producing nine goals and five assists in 16 games.

With Havlat gone, the Senators will give Bochenski every chance to duplicate the success he enjoyed during the pre-season.

Perhaps the goal he scored in the first period against Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera in last night's 5-1 victory will restore the confidence that helped make him one of the NHL's highest scorers in the pre-season.

If not -- and Havlat isn't able to return as quickly as the Senators hope -- Muckler could be forced to start shopping for help on the right side. The market is limited.

UNWELCOME VISITOR: Kings' winger Sean Avery can expect to be booed every time he touches the puck tonight in Montreal after making insensitive comments earlier in the season about French-speaking players who wear visors. Though he retracted the statement, all has not been forgiven. In fact, the Kings brought their director of security -- who normally doesn't travel with the team -- on the trip to make sure there are no incidents as Avery makes his way to the Bell Centre tonight. "I told (Avery) not to sit beside me on the bench and I suggested he might want to stay in a different hotel than the team,'' Kings centre Craig Conroy, a former Hab, said with a smile. ''I know I don't want to be around him. There might be people throwing stuff at him. French people are proud people. I know they're not going to just forgive him and he's going to hear about it. Maybe he should sit in the penalty box away from the rest of the team." Avery would not discuss the issue before last night's game. "I'm here and I'm thinking about playing the Ottawa Senators. That's what I'm focusing on," said Avery.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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