Mlakar has Muck's back

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

ATLANTA -- For now, the Senators' head honchos aren't about to panic.

While fans are calling on Eugene Melnyk to fire GM John Muckler and coach Bryan Murray in the wake of a four-game losing skid, the Senators owner remains supportive of the club's management.

Senators president Roy Mlakar told the Sun yesterday that he and Muckler had a telephone conversation with Melnyk before Monday's 4-3 OT loss to the Capitals in Washington and everybody is confident things will get turned around.

"Ironically, Eugene has been a very strong supporter of the team, the direction and has expressed confidence in management," Mlakar said from Ottawa. "I use ironically because we happened to provide an update to him (Monday) when he was in (Canada) for a short period of time.

MELNYK SAW CAPS GAME

"We don't get as much of an opportunity to chat with Eugene as we would like because of his vast business endeavours, but it was a very positive discussion. He was able to watch our game and I'm sure he wasn't happy with the outcome."

Melnyk isn't alone in his displeasure because the Senators blew a 3-0 first-period lead against the Caps. Sure, Ottawa picked up a point in the standings, but the renewed calls for somebody's head likely started as soon as Chris Clark scored the winner in OT for the Caps.

Asked about the futures of Muckler and Murray, Mlakar wouldn't get into specifics, but maintained it will be up to the club's management team to find the answers to the Senators' skid.

"It's never been -- in my almost 11 years here -- a topic that I have ever commented on publicly," said Mlakar. "We have a very strong relationship and like to work out from within rather than react to comments of talk shows and public comments which, of course, people are entitled to have.

"The passion for the game makes it successful in this country. It's never been my practice to comment on the playing aspect of the team, the players themselves and certainly our management team. I would say in that area: I'm more confident in the future than concerned."

Murray, who is in the final year of his contract, said he can sympathize with the frustration of the fans and the fact he's getting blamed along with Muckler.

MURRAY NOT WORRIED

"I understand the criticism. We are not playing well. I'm disappointed in our performance like everybody else is," said Murray. "We feel the stress and the frustration of it as well. We're early in the season. I don't know that until we get everybody healthy it's a fair judgment, but it's a judgment. As I say, everybody is allowed an opinion."

Is he worried about his job?

"All I do is come to work every day. I try to be as prepared as I can be," said Murray. "I try to have the meetings and video. All I can do is what I can do and that's be prepared to help these kids as best as I can and go from there. If you worry about everything that's beyond your control, it doesn't make any sense."

Ultimately, the Senators are confident they can turn things around.

"I just have to remind people that we've played 13 hockey games and we are also not used to this in Ottawa," said Mlakar. "We haven't been in this position in so long, I can't even remember."


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