Trade jitters on march

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Murray chuckled, shook his head and dismissed the notion he was consulted on a potential trade during practice Tuesday morning.

The Senators coach said GM John Muckler interrupted the workout -- and decided that then and there was the only time for the conversation -- to ask him if he wanted Daniel Alfredsson in Pittsburgh for last night's game against the Penguins.

Murray's response made it clear he wasn't keen on giving his captain an extra day off to return from the Olympics.

"Do you want to win the game?" Murray told reporters he asked Muckler.

Senators players we informed of that explanation weren't buying it. One said the discussion between the two honchos caught everybody's attention, and that guys were holding their breath as they waited to see who was going to be called over and told they'd been dealt.

Such is the general mood of NHLers a week before the trade deadline ...

Only five scouts took in last night's game between the Senators and the Penguins -- Jim Clark (Blue Jackets), Pierre "The Ghost" Gauthier (Canadiens), Shawn Dineen (Kings), Dave Heitz (Lightning) and Don Maloney (Rangers).

Coincidentally, only five teams can be considered definite "sellers," as Columbus, Chicago, St. Louis, Washington and Pittsburgh are the clubs who really have no chance at making the playoffs.

Florida, considered to have one of the hottest available commodities in centre Olli Jokinen, emerged from the Olympic break to thump Tampa 8-2 on Tuesday. As of yesterday, the Panthers were only eight points behind the eighth-place Habs in the Eastern Conference. Kinda tough to give up the ghost when you're only four wins from a spot in the post-season dance, isn't it?

While Jokinen would look good on Ottawa's roster (and 29 others) and could become an unrestricted free agent July 1 if the Panthers don't open their wallets wider, he told the Miami Herald on Tuesday he doesn't want to go anywhere.

"My No. 1 place is here with the Panthers, and I hope we get everything done," Jokinen said.

A Florida resurgence also would seem to eliminate the possibility that other veterans who could help the Senators -- such as Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts -- will be on the move before March 9.

And that would appear to leave Muckler and other "buyers" looking at the likes of Matthew Barnaby and Martin Lapointe (Hawks), Scott Young (Blues), Brendan Witt (Caps), and Mark Recchi and John LeClair (Pens) as players who could give their teams any type of boost.

"I enjoy it here, my family's here, but I really don't know what's going to happen," Recchi, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, said yesterday about the possibility of being dealt. "If they came to me and said they really needed to make this deal, it would be something I would have to think about."

With the number of truly legitimate difference makers out there this close to D-day, it'd be a surprise if he's still a Penguin this time next week.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm:

Andre Roy spent the Olympic break showing off his newest, proudest possession to family and friends in Montreal. His wife Karen gave birth to their first child, daughter Mealie, on Dec. 27. "She's so hot," said Andre, the former Senators fan favourite who's now with the Penguins. "She's going to be a super model." Roy says the baby has "calmed me down. I'm a real responsible guy now." Hard to believe, but a shame if true ... What does it say when the Senators' Molson Cup three stars award winner for February was Antoine Vermette? How about that a guy who generally plays on the fourth line had a great month AND that most of his teammates who get considerably more ice time and opportunity did not ... Nice guy that Mike Fisher. He bought dinner for about 11 of his teammates Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. And he did even have to ... Alfredsson arrived at Mellon Arena less than three hours before the puck dropped, and while he did grant interviews with broadcast journalists, he wouldn't speak with the print guys until after the game. That, for the record, is quite unlike the generally accommodating Ottawa captain. And we thought the gold medal just went to his neck, not his head ... Sidney Crosby isn't buying into the second guessing that says Team Canada's fate at the Olympics might have been different had he been there. "After the first day, I just became a fan," said Crosby, who went home to Halifax and visited his old Rimouski buddies during the break. "I wasn't thinking about being there. Hopefully I get a chance to play in the next one, and when the chance comes up it's going to be up to me to take advantage of it."

SOME THINGS WORTH NOTING ...

BODY BASHING: The Penguins and Senators did throw their weight around a little in the first period. On one shift, Pittsburgh rookie Colby Armstrong hammered Dany Heatley, then -- after a rush that resulted in a shot ringing off the post behind Ray Emery -- took a run at Chris Phillips. Even though Armstrong bounced off, Zdeno Chara went after him to say enough's enough. Moments later, Mark Recchi rubbed Heatley into the boards, and Heatley got even big time shortly thereafter, crushing Recchi just inside the Ottawa blue line.

RAISE A GLASS: The NHL's decision yesterday to tinker with a rule penalizing players for shooting the puck over the glass garnered an unpredictable response by Senators coach Bryan Murray, whose team has been victimized by it a number of times this season. "I think it's a tough rule, but I think it serves a purpose," said Murray. "We do these things all the time. We put things in, then throw them back." Ironically, Senators defenceman Chris Phillips received a second-period minor last night for just such an offence.


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