Sens missing Chara's helping hand

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

BUFFALO -- Zdeno Chara's red and swollen right hand served as a reminder yesterday why the Senators don't want him fighting.

And in case the message wasn't clear after Chara fought Pittsburgh defenceman Eric Cairns on Tuesday night, Ottawa coach Bryan Murray also spoke to the hulking blueliner about chucking the knuckles.

As the Senators try to increase their lead atop the Eastern Conference standings going into tonight's game against the Sabres, they will have to do it without Chara on this two-game trip, which includes a stop in Philadelphia tomorrow.

"It's pretty swollen and pretty sore," said Chara, holding his hand at his side. "Hopefully, it won't be long. You never want to miss games. I'm hoping that the swelling will go down in the next couple of days and (I will) be back soon."

CAIRNS SUSPENDED

Though there is good news with Senators centre Jason Spezza returning to the lineup, the club will be without defenceman Anton Volchenkov, who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms.

Chara got into the fight with Cairns after the Pittsburgh goon speared Chara twice in the crotch. Yesterday, the NHL suspended Cairns three games for the incident.

Murray tried to yell at Chara from the bench not to retaliate, but it was too late.

Murray reiterated that is why the job of fighting has to be left to players like Brian McGrattan, who are paid to take care of business.

"You don't want people of (Chara's) nature involved in fights," said Murray. "He hits too hard and I guess he hit (Cairns) on the head a couple of times. Nothing is broken, but it's swollen.

"I was telling Chara from behind the bench, 'Don't fight the guy,' but in the heat of the moment he probably didn't hear me. Sometimes when something happens out there, you have to do it. It's hard to tell people not to drop the gloves. I just had a chat with him, but there's not much that you can do in that situation."

There has been a lot of talk the Senators won't be able to keep both Chara and Wade Redden after they become unrestricted free agents on July 1, so this will give the club a glimpse of what life will be like without the 6-foot-9 giant.

Christoph Schubert will move back to the blue line from his duties as a left winger to replace Chara, while Filip Novak was recalled from Binghamton to replace Volchenkov.

Murray said losing Chara is a tough hit to take.

"Any time you lose a guy who plays 30 minutes a game, it's difficult," said Murray. "At the same time, we've lost good players like Martin Havlat and Chara in the past and we've still played some good hockey."


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