THE SENATORS went on the offensive yesterday, insisting goaltender Dominik Hasek is down but not out for the rest of the season.
At a hastily arranged press conference at Scotiabank Place, Senators GM John Muckler and Hasek denied a report in Saturday's Sun that the 41-year-old goaltender won't play again this year.
Speaking before last night's game against the Washington Capitals, both refused to put a timetable on Hasek's return date, but insisted he will play again this season.
"This story is totally untrue," said Muckler. "We said when Dominik Hasek was injured that we had a plan that he wasn't going to come back until he's 100%.
"When he's 100%, he will be back and he's going to play in the playoffs. We hope that he's able to play some regular-season games and we're confident that he's going to play for us in the playoffs."
Ray Emery, who made his 17th straight start for the Senators last night, has posted a 12-3-2 record as Hasek's replacement.
"Right now, Ray Emery is playing well for us and the team is playing well in front of him," said Muckler. "There is no sense in rushing Dominik back."
Not even Hasek is sure when he can play again or even put on equipment for regular practice. He tried to skate with his full gear Thursday, but wasn't on the ice for long.
"I can't do the things I'm capable of doing," said Hasek. "I would love to answer this question about when (he's going to start practising) again, but I can't because I don't know right now.
"I don't want to go out there if I'm not able to do what I am capable of doing. I have to be able to get up and get down to get to the puck and I have to be able to move all over the place. I can skate around fine, but I'm not in a position where I can do everything. That's tough."
Senators coach Bryan Murray echoed Muckler's thoughts."
"Nobody has told me anything like that." he said. "I'm disappointed to have to answer questions about a story like this and it's very frustrating. My plan is to have No. 39 (Hasek) better and playing for us in the playoffs."
Before his injury, Hasek compiled a 28-10-4 record for the Senators this season with a 2.09 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.