Fresh start for Arnason

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

ATLANTA -- Senators 3, Thrashers 1

Tyler Arnason is out to prove some people wrong.

The centre, acquired by the Senators at Thursday's trade deadline, was the target of some pointed comments about being an underachiever by the Chicago Blackhawks regime that shipped him out.

Arnason bristled yesterday at the "underachiever" tag when asked how he felt about his time in Chicago and the opinions of management there.

"Yeah, I definitely feel different about that," said Arnason, who had a well-publicized run-in with former 'Hawks coach Brian Sutter in a Nashville bar near the end of the 2003-04 season.

"I felt like I played hard and did what I could while I was there."

Arnason, who turns 27 next week, was the 'Hawks' second-leading scorer when he was traded.

He said he woke up from his pre-game nap (Chicago played Colorado that night) just after the deadline Thursday afternoon.

"I woke up at 2:13 (Central time) and let my guard down. I thought it was over," said Arnason. "They had been talking about (trading me) for months and they did it at the last minute ... nice."

Chicago GM Dale Tallon was harsh in his evaluation of Arnason's time with the 'Hawks, saying: "He's got all kinds of ability and I think he has underachieved," Tallon said.

"I felt probably a move would benefit both of us. We all, as a group, decided that this was necessary for the future of our franchise.

'TIME FOR A CHANGE'

"Arnie's got a chance to be a star, but it's been frustrating the last couple years with him. The fact of the matter is it's frustrating to watch the ability he has, the inconsistent play he has shown us when you realize he can do so much. I hope he does very well for (the Senators), but it's time for a change and that's just the way it is."

Tallon conveniently ignores the fact the 'Hawks have been a dreadful franchise for a long time. Calling Arnason an underachiever ignores the fact the 'Hawks have done a woeful job of developing players and creating an environment in which they can excel.

The opposite can be said for the Senators.

Arnason skated on a line with Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and centre-turned-winger Bryan Smolinski last night against the Thrashers and picked up an assist on his second shift.

Senators coach Bryan Murray, who said he will wait to make his own judgments on Arnason, obviously is giving him a chance to get off to a good start by teaming him with the Senators' best player.

"We've been talking all along about balancing the lines out a bit," said Murray.

"It doesn't mean it's permanent. We'll give him a chance to play with a real good player, see how he responds and go from there."

Murray said what happened in Chicago doesn't matter now.

"I spoke to him and told him judgements will only be made on how you play for me," Murray said after talking to Arnason yesterday morning.

"Any time you change, it's a new thing. It's a fresh start," said Arnason.

"I guess the first trade is definitely the hardest. You get used to the idea you can change teams in the blink of an eye. In the end, this is going to be good for me."

Hear and There:

It can be a small world, the hockey world. Arnason was born in Oklahoma City where his dad, Chuck, was playing with the Minnesota North Stars farm club in 1979. A teammate on that club? Mike Eaves, the father of Senators rookie W Patrick Eaves. Now the sons are teammates ... Senators W Chris Neil sent former teammate Peter Bondra to the dressing room with a hard hit in the first period. Bondra, who needs just seven goals to get to the 500 mark, returned a few minutes later ... Ottawa's Jason Spezza did the same to Atlanta sniper Ilya Kovalchuk in the second, getting his right leg with a good hip check.

Just Wondering .... :

Are you, like me, still trying to figure out what the hell the Maple Leafs were doing at the trade deadline? ... You think we have traffic problems in Ottawa? A front page story in the local paper here asks whether 23 lanes is wide enough for the I-75, one of the busiest stretches of highway in the USA.

Let Me Say This About That:

The Lightning decided to stand pat with its goaltending at the deadline. The failure to make a move there will be the reason why the Bolts miss the playoffs ... That was quite the practical joke Murray pulled on Antoine Vermette at the trade deadline, faking him out like he had been traded when he skated up to him during practice. Murray did it because he likes the kid and made it clear the Senators couldn't deal him with the year he's having ... Though on the road, Murray did a good job of getting Ds Zdeno Chara and Chris Phillips on the ice against Kovalchuk ... Great play by Fisher during an Atlanta power play in the second, outracing Jaroslav Modry for a loose puck and killing a few seconds in the Thrashers zone ... One group at the game last night was the Hawkesbury Hawks bantams. Gee, how do you think they got their tickets? One of the perks of having an NHL coach from your town, I guess.

Parting Shot:

The Thrashers handed out blankets to their fans last night, courtesy of an airline. That was good because they could use them to put over their heads after the Thrashers gave up three goals on the first four shots.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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