GM gives Sens trip to regroup

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

ATLANTA -- As John Muckler was talking about making deals yesterday, his cellphone rang ... it was a call from another GM.

"There's one of my friends calling me now," the Senators GM said with a laugh.

Muckler confirmed yesterday that he's had numerous conversations with many of his counterparts to see if he can find help for his struggling team.

But Muckler maintained before he does anything, he wants the answers to come from within and he'll likely evaluate the team after its seven-day, four-game road swing ends Saturday in Boston.

"Right now, we've got two or three more games on this road trip and I am going to stay behind the team," said Muckler. "I have confidence in this club and we'll see what happens. We're not playing up to our capabilities.

"It's up to each guy to pick that up. There's no doubt about that. That's why you get into slumps, there obviously has to be something wrong.

"We're not playing well as a team, but that will all come together.

"We're not the first team that has ever gone into a slump and we're not going to be the last team. We've been very fortunate. We haven't had too many slumps over the last two, three or four years. History will tell you that you have to work your way out."

Muckler said he knows fans are frustrated and he's heard the calls from people who want him fired.

"We feel as badly about our team right now as they do. I can appreciate them. They are concerned, they are worried and they love the hockey club," said Muckler. "The players are concerned and they are worried. Everybody connected with the hockey club is worried. You have to go through the process and make it work somehow."

That being said, Muckler is getting plenty of calls from rival GMs like the one he had yesterday. Asked if other teams are willing "to help," Muckler cracked a smile.

"It depends how you define help," said Muckler. "You have a lot of friends, there's no question and you get a lot of phone calls."

The talk won't turn to action ... for now.

Z ZINGS SENS: Former Senators D Zdeno Chara fired a shot at Muckler when asked about the deal that sent RW Marian Hossa to Atlanta for LW Dany Heatley. "When you have a diamond in your hand, you shouldn't get rid of it," Chara, now a Bruin, said of his close friend and fellow Slovak Hossa. "He's that kind of player. I wouldn't get rid of it ever, if I was a GM." Now, the move was made because Hossa was demanding a huge raise and Heatley was a good fit for the Senators. The Thrashers are thrilled to have Hossa in the fold. "He's one of the best players in the league and definitely one of the most complete players in the league," said Atlanta coach Bob Hartley, a Hawkesbury native. "Last year, it was a shock. This year, it's his team. He's established in Atlanta. He knows where to go. It took him by surprise that trade and maybe for a while there was some unanswered questions in his mind: 'Why did I get traded? Why did they sign and trade me the next day?' (Hossa) is a smart guy and he understands how the business works. Last year, he still had a great season. He finally turned the page. He knew right from the summer he was coming to Atlanta. Now, he's very comfortable." Hartley said Hossa is a mix of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg "There's a nice mix between Forsberg and Sakic. He has many qualities of those two guys," said Hartley. "That's why he's rated as one of the top players in the league. I don't think that we've seen the best out of Marian Hossa yet. He's a great pro and he's a great guy to have around. He's really easy to coach. If there were 20 Marian Hossa's on every team, the NHL could get rid of the coaches."


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