A Sen-sible decision

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

BUFFALO -- Ottawa hockey fans should breathe a sigh of relief after Senators owner Eugene Melnyk announced yesterday that he isn't going to save the Renegades.

While this is bad news for the city's football faithful, the good news is Melnyk will stick with his plan of pouring his resources into bringing a Stanley Cup to Ottawa.

The beleaguered Renegades are a long way from making a profit, so buying the CFL team would mean Melnyk, who also loves horse racing, would lose even more money on sports.

Sure, you could say the two franchises would operate in different worlds, but the reality is Melnyk would be paying bills for both teams and something would suffer as a result.

Melnyk's focus is on watching his Senators enjoy a long run this spring and that's exactly where it's going to stay. He is committed to having a competitive NHL team, and avoiding losing $5 million operating the Renegades this season might be the difference in keeping Zdeno Chara in a Senators uniform.

Don't ever accuse Melnyk of not being a smart businessman.

LOOKING OUT FOR NO. 1: The Senators can stick another nail in Buffalo's coffin in the race for top spot in the Northeast Division with a victory over the Sabres tonight at HSBC Arena. Ottawa can pull nine points ahead of the Sabres and that might just be cushion enough with 13 games left in the regular season. "There's still a lot of hockey left and still three games remaining against them, but if we're able to get these two points that's going to be pretty big," captain Daniel Alfredsson said yesterday. "We know that this is a good opportunity. They've played well as a team all season, but they're struggling a bit with three losses in their last four games and we've got to take advantage of the fact we can put some distance between them and us." The Senators are coming off a 4-2 victory over Buffalo last Saturday at Scotiabank Place. "You want to do well in the head-to-head games," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "Look, all the games at this time of the season are tough, but these are the ones you have to win if you're going to be successful."

BAD TRADE: The NHL has suspended Pittsburgh D Eric Cairns for three games for twice spearing D Zdeno Chara during the Senators' 5-2 win on Tuesday. Chara believes Cairns had been put in the situation intentionally by Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien. "It's a little bit frustrating," said Chara, who received a fighting major and a misconduct in the incident. "That's a pretty good trade for them when you think about it. That was only (Cairns') second shift of the game and they get me off the ice for 15 minutes."

A SPEZZA RETURN: Senators C Jason Spezza will return to the lineup tonight. "I'm feeling a lot better and I'm feeling like I can do the things that I'm capable of doing," said Spezza, who missed Tuesday's game with a hip flexor. "You just want to be careful with injuries like this at this time of year and you don't want to be out there if you can't do what you normally do. You want to be feeling 100% because in a few weeks the games are going to mean a lot more in the playoffs." D Anton Volchenkov, who suffered a concussion vs. the Penguins, made the trip, but his status for tonight's game won't be known until after the morning skate.


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