Sens love those Leaf games

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

DALLAS -- Senators president Roy Mlakar has nothing against playing Western Conference teams ... he just doesn't want to give up games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres.

Mlakar said yesterday he wasn't the only one who voted against more out-of conference play during an NHL board of governors' meeting Tuesday.

In fact, Mlakar supported a proposal which would have seen the East teams play the West at least once each season, but was against giving up two divisional games to play a home-and-home series against the Western Conference.

And, for the record, the Montreal Canadiens voted against both.

It should be noted that all of the Atlantic Division -- the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers -- also voted down the proposals.

"We were only one of 11 teams that voted against the ideas, so if people are looking for somebody to blame, we're not alone in this," said Mlakar yesterday.

"They needed a two-thirds majority to make this pass and they didn't get it.

"That means not everybody agreed with it.

"Look, we are all for playing the other conference and, especially, games against the teams in Western Canada.

"I stated very clearly going into that meeting I wanted to play more games against Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, but not at the expense of two games against our division rivals."

Mlakar said when the issue is revisited by the governors following the 2007-08 season, the NHL needs to look at the possibility of cutting down the number of games in the conference in order to keep the division rivalry games that are popular.

"Look, our ticket sales show that the best games are the ones against our division rivals like Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo and Boston," said Mlakar.

"We weren't going to support giving up two of those. That's why we voted against it.

"It's unfortunate that we're not going to get a chance to play those Western Canadian teams.

"Those games against the other conference sell well, but there was nothing there that offered the option to cut down on the number of inter-conference games. That's why we only supported one proposal."


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