Sens battle NHL's odds

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

When the Senators convene today for the first day of their 2007-08 training camp, they will be embarking on a season they hope will see them buck a trend.

No team has lost the Stanley Cup final and made it back to the final the following year since the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers lost to the New York Islanders in the spring of 1983 and got back to play for the Cup the following spring, beating those same Islanders to win their first of two straight.

Recent history has been even more harsh for both Stanley Cup finalists. The Carolina Hurricanes and Oilers, who played for the Cup in 2006, both missed the playoffs last year.

The Senators reached the final for the first time in their modern history last spring and fell to the Anaheim Ducks in five games.

Reminding their club how tough it is to get back to the NHL's showcase will be one of the messages Senators GM Bryan Murray and new coach John Paddock will be delivering after a team meal tonight.

"It's a tough challenge to do that. It requires a huge commitment from the players to come back after a long playoff run," said Murray, who will welcome 48 players to camp today.

They will undergo medicals and fitness testing today, play in the club's charity golf tournament tomorrow at The Marshes and hit the ice for the first time Saturday.

"We know the history of the runners-up in the final. It's a real challenge for the players," said Murray.

TWO JOBS OPEN

There are probably only two jobs open following the off-season departures of forward Mike Comrie and defenceman Tom Preissing, who signed as free agents with the New York Islanders and Los Angeles Kings, respectively.

After three days of practice, the Senators will play their first exhibition game in London on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

On the Senators' side is they are returning the nucleus of last year's team which powered its way to the final in just 15 games, ousting the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.

Senators winger Dany Heatley, coming off two straight 50-goal seasons, said getting to the final and losing left him "sour," for a few weeks this summer.

He expects the Senators will be better for the experience.

"You can make an argument for both cases. I think this group is excited for a good season. I think we've got a great feeling in here. I'm hungry to get going again," he said yesterday after skating with most of his teammates at the Sensplex.

He then headed out with other Senators to deliver season ticket packages to long-time suite holders.

"I expect us to come out hard, have another good season and get back to that point we got to last year," said Heatley, "And this time finish it off."


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