Contracts tend to come with success

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

What ... Bryan Murray worry? Not a chance.

The heat will be turned up on the Senators coach this season as he heads into training camp today in the precarious position of being in the final year of his contract.

While Murray -- who left his post as GM of the Ducks following the 2004 season to join the Senators -- hasn't discussed an extension with Senators GM John Muckler, he isn't concerned because he's confident this team is going to be a contender, which in turn will help work out his status.

"I know what the challenge is for this team and I don't think about that stuff (the contract)," the Shawville native said yesterday. "I've been around long enough and I know I just have to go out to get the job done."

IN CHARGE

Nobody should think for a second that just because Murray has no assurances he'll be back next season, that he's a lame-duck coach. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The 47 players who report for medicals today and hold their first on-ice session tomorrow are going to find out pretty quickly who the boss is. Murray demands hard work from his players and isn't afraid to call a spade a spade.

With eight players gone from last year's team that was ousted in the second round of the playoffs by the Sabres, the battle lines are going to be drawn in camp quickly. The biggest questions are up front -- especially on left wing.

"I think at the end of camp we're going to end up with five lines that could all play in the NHL," said Murray. "That's where we're going to have decisions to make. We're going to have to decide who is going to be better off starting the season here and the people we're going to be able to call upon in camp.

"I think we're going to have a good, competitive camp. I'm excited because I want to see where we are right now and I want to try some people in different places. This should be pretty interesting for us."

Murray said he will start rookie Russian centre Alexei Kaigorodov, who signed with the Senators on Tuesday, with Daniel Alfredsson on the right side. The Senators want to form a second scoring line behind Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, who will move to the right side.

Alfredsson said he doesn't know much about Kaigorodov, but is looking forward to getting a look at him.

"I know he's got a left-handed shot and I really don't know much more than that," the captain said. "That should be good for me because it can make it easier to get the puck for one-timers from the circle.

"We're going to find out pretty quickly in camp if it's going to work. I'm obviously excited."

Muckler, meanwhile, quelled any notion that Kaigorodov will return to Russia if he doesn't make the team.

The club didn't bring the 23-year-old here to play in the minors, but if it so happens he's not quite ready for the NHL, he'll start the season in Binghamton.

"We brought him here because we believe he's going to play for this hockey club," said Muckler.

The players have watched the changes taking place this summer and they're interested to see where the Senators will stand going into the season.

9 GAMES IN 11 DAYS

They should get a pretty good idea with nine pre-season games in 11 days starting Tuesday in Halifax against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"You are always excited. This is the most changes I've seen since I've been here," said defenceman Chris Phillips. "I think it's going to be interesting.

"There's been some big changes and this is something that we're going to have to get used to with the new (salary cap) system in place."


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