Hey, Dom, spring into action

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

March 30, 2006. Ah yes, what a great day it was in the nation's capital.

Winter finally felt like it was over as temperatures soared to 16C under beautiful, sunny skies.

And Dominik Hasek put his goalie equipment on again!

About damn time, in both cases.

Not exactly sure when Wiarton Willie last checked for his shadow, but it had been six weeks and a day in between pad strappings for the delicate Dominator.

Since his 41-year-old Czech 'tender suffered a strained adductor muscle injury in an Olympic game against Germany, Senators coach Bryan Murray has probably felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

"Dom able to practice today?" he has asked his training staff.

"Ummm, don't know," he has been told.

But finally, a breakthrough. The moment the Senators have all been waiting for. Hasek enters the dressing room. Hasek sits at his stall. Hasek looks at his cup, his hockey pants, his chest protector, his leg cushions, his blocker, his trapper, his helmet, his mask, his skates. And he decides to put it all on!

What a gutsy effort.

Of course, the media wasn't around to witness this courageous display, as it happened before the team's game-day, morning skate. But we weren't the only ones.

"I think (the equipment) still fits," coach Murray said when asked how Hasek's latest baby-step went. "I didn't see him."

Funny, yes, but here's the kicker: Hasek was on the ice in his stuff for all of about two minutes before calling it a day. And who knows for sure when he's going to go through the motion again.

This is just getting ridiculous.

Listen, I had never even heard of an adductor before Valentine's Day. And even then, I thought it was a car part. Obviously, I have no idea what a strained one feels like. It's probably painful. But surely, there comes a point where the guy has to give an injury a legitimate test, no?

"Our medical staff decided that I'm not able to play. It's over," Hasek explained to reporters before leaving Turin a month and a half ago. "I don't want to get hurt for the rest of the NHL season."

There are only 10 more games until the playoffs. Rookie Ray Emery is performing marvelously and the Senators are winning. But tougher times lie ahead. The part of the year for which Hasek was hired.

Yes, spring is here, and it's time for the Dominator come out of his hole. Shadow or no shadow.

Starts and Stops:

The Dany Heatley Watch now stands at 43, which leaves him two shy of Marian Hossa's record for most goals in a season by a Senator. We're starting to think he just might hit 50, especially if Murray leaves him on the point for power plays ... With their recent rash of injuries, 20-year-old Andrej Meszaros saw a whopping 11:17 of ice time in the first period and 29:55 overall. "I told him, 'obviously I'm playing you far too many minutes, you had a couple of giveaways (against New Jersey on Tuesday)," Murray said yesterday morning. "He said, 'just give me another game to make the adjustment.' " He made it, all right. Meszaros was great against Jaromir Jagr and the Strangers ... Daniel Alfredsson had another one of his standing ovation-generating penalty kills in the first period. That's the kind of stuff that lifts his teammates, as well as the fans out of their seats. So Alfie, what's better, the rush a guy gets killing like that and the Standing O that comes with it, or the rush of scoring a goal. "Good question," he said. "But it's a nicer rush scoring a goal. It's always easier being destructive than creative."

Things That Make You Go Hmmm:

The teaser came in the first period, when Brian McGrattan and Colton Orr took roughing penalties after the latter went after Vaclav Varada. The main event came in the second period when McGrattan and Orr dropped the gloves in a dandy. McGrattan won, if only for landing the best punch -- a right that stunned Orr. "It was one of my better fights," said McGrattan, who now has a three-game scrapping streak after a month (or so) layoff. "At least I didn't take one in the lookers this time. I've been on the receiving end plenty of times. I think I've learned from them. I was more patient (last night)." ... Still no goals for Tyler Arnason, but he did have four really good shifts last night. No, that's not sarcasm. At one point, we even wondered if someone else was wearing his jersey.


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