TORONTO -- Trying to erase past failures, coach Bryan Murray has a very simple message for the Senators heading into tonight's season opener against the Maple Leafs.
"To be successful, a lot of things have to happen," said Murray. "The most important (thing) is be together and work as a group. They have to recognize they need help in tough situations and we'll provide that help as often as we can."
The players seem to be buying into Murray's message.
"We know in order to win we're going to have to have a team game every night," said Jason Spezza. "The guys who are game breakers are going to have to break games open as well. We had so much individual talent last year, maybe we relied on it more than we should have.
"If we rely on each other more, that might help us avoid those long skids of losing or those times where we're not playing well."
When camp opened, Senators GM John Muckler and Murray both said they wanted this to be a "blue-collar team" and that message was repeated during yesterday's pre-practice meeting.
"There's a huge price that has to be paid by every team and every player in the league," said Murray. "If you want be a top team there are extra things you have to do to be successful.
"You have to be more together and more like a group that cares about each other. At times last year, I didn't think that was the case. We had so many individuals that were good players that we kind of got away from doing what we could do on the ice at any given time. Trying to get everybody to buy in to playing the team game all the time is the price I talk about."
And, Murray, adds, there are some other basic elements that have to fall into place.
"Work. Check. Not turn the puck over as much," said Murray.
Unlike past years, the Senators aren't talking about winning the Stanley Cup. Instead of being one of the favourites, they're viewed as a team that has a chance.
"I'm not sure who picks those teams and who decides who is going to win the Stanley Cup," said Murray. "I would hope the focus is the same ... that we're trying to be the top team, a top team in the league. We'll let the people that want to pick winners and losers do that. We're going to try to be a good hockey club."