A Hurricane blows into the capital

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

Before Martin Gerber arrived in Ottawa, he sought the advice of an old Senators netminder.

While attending Francois Allaire's goalie camp last week in Rosemere, Que., Gerber sat down with former Senators goalie Patrick Lalime to find out more about Ottawa.

"We talked a lot about Ottawa and I had a lot of questions," Gerber said following his first skate yesterday at the Bell Sensplex.

Gerber, who was signed as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 from Carolina, is going to find the heat turned up on him big time when the regular season begins Oct. 5 against Toronto.

"(Gerber) had some questions. That's for sure," Lalime said yesterday from Chicago, where he signed as a free-agent in the off-season to act as Nikolai Khabibulin's backup.

"I just told him he's going to face a different kind of pressure playing in Ottawa, but I think he's prepared for it. He knows what it's going to take.

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"I told him to have some fun with it, that he was going to enjoy the guys in the room and they've got a strong team there. People in Ottawa are going to like him."

That Gerber is even a Senator is a bit of a surprise.

Both the Red Wings and Blues offered him more money on the free-agent market, but Gerber liked what he saw here and signed a three-year, $11.1-million (all terms US) deal.

"I always wanted to play for a Canadian team," said Gerber. "Ottawa was a good choice. I've always felt this was a good team and one of the best teams in the league whenever we played them. This should be fun.

"There's pressure everywhere. It's going to be different because everybody here is going to be expecting us to win. That wasn't the case in Carolina. Everybody just expected us to finish in last place. That wasn't how the guys in the room felt. We felt we could win. It's going to be different here, but this should be pressure that you look forward to facing."

Though Gerber could have stayed with the Hurricanes, he decided to move on after the club won the Stanley Cup with Cam Ward assuming the starter's role. Gerber suffered a mysterious stomach illness, lost 20 lbs. and was never able to regain his job.

He did, however, have a day with the Cup in Switzerland this summer. Gerber's family took it into the Alps before a barbeque at his home.

It's a party Gerber would like to have that kind of celebration with the Senators.

"If he plays like he did against us during the regular season, then we should be just fine," said centre Jason Spezza.

Lalime said Gerber is an even-keeled guy.

"I told him he's going to enjoy Ottawa because it's a big city, but you feel like you are living in a small town," said Lalime. "You get to know people and if he has success, the people are going to love him. I really feel that Ottawa is one of the best places in the league to play because the people love the team so much."


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