'Battler' Muck goes on defence

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Now that GM John Muckler has discussed the Senators' early playoff exit with the media, he'll have to answer to a higher power -- owner Eugene Melnyk.

It's not likely Muckler's job is in danger -- he's already been told to move forward.

"(Melnyk) told me to move ahead and get the job done," said Muckler yesterday.

Senators president Roy Mlakar told reporters he and Muckler will meet with Melnyk sometime this summer.

"(Melnyk) is a battler and he wants to win and he doesn't like losing," said Mlakar. "He wants to know our plan for winning and that's what we're going to meet about. We averaged 19,500 every game, had 33 sellouts and I think we were 14th in the league in paid attendance.

"He's thrilled with the business side of this. I can tell you he's committed to winning here ... That's for sure."

Mlakar said Muckler is the right man to lead the Senators into the future and there's been no thought about making a change.

'NO COMPLAINTS'

"I have no complaints about the job John Muckler has done," Mlakar said. "His style complements what we're trying to do here. The communication has never been better. The scouting staff has never been better. We've got a strong organization here.

"I was talking to a team president Sunday who told me, 'You know Roy, there are 24 other teams who would love to be in your position today.' We're not going to base our decisions on three one-goal losses in a playoff series."

The biggest issue yesterday was the Dominik Hasek situation. Muckler said he looked around at the March 9 trade deadline, but was confident Hasek would return from his adductor muscle injury. He also didn't think Minnesota's Dwayne Roloson (who ended up in Edmonton) wasn't a better option than using backup Ray Emery.

"We felt Ray Emery was the best goalkeeper available," said Muckler.

Muckler also defended his decision to bring in centre Tyler Arnason from the Chicago Blackhawks at the deadline. He didn't play in the playoffs and Muckler admitted he was the club's third choice.

Not only did the Senators have talks with the Panthers about centre Olli Jokinen -- who eventually re-signed with the Panthers -- Muckler also confirmed Sun reports from March that he tried to bring in San Jose centre Alyn McCauley.

Much of the criticism for the Senators' playoff failure has been heaped on Muckler, coach Bryan Murray, injured goalie Dominik and captain Daniel Alfredsson.

Muckler said he was willing to accept the criticism.

"I take a great deal of the responsibility," said Muckler. "We're all here for one reason: That's to win a Stanley Cup for the people in Ottawa. I still think it can be accomplished.

"But we're not the first hockey club to stumble on the way to winning a Stanley Cup. This is a tough goal to accomplish. There are 30 teams, but only one team is going to win it. That means the rest of us are all wrong."

All Melnyk wants is for Mlakar, Muckler and Murray to right the ship and bring home the Cup.


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