For a team that not too long ago didn't like to get physical, the Senators are catching on to this fighting thing.
On only the second day of camp at Scotiabank Place, the Senators were a feisty bunch as Team White scored a 6-3 victory over Team Black in front of 10,000 fans on hand for Fanfest.
Not only did Ottawa rookie Jeremy Yablonski break the "no fighting" trend by dropping the gloves with Chris Neil, defenceman Joe Corvo punched Neil in the back of the head and newcomer Matt Carkner was jawing with Brian McGrattan.
Though Yablonski and Neil congratulated each other when it was over, it was the first fight in more than five years at Ottawa camp because former coach Jacques Martin always banned players from dropping the gloves.
Coach John Paddock didn't mind one bit.
"That's hockey," said Paddock. "You never know what's going to happen out there."
Yablonski, 27, who played last season with Idaho in the East Coast Hockey League, is tabbed to play for the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton this season. He is trying to make an impression.
"I like to go out there and play hard," said Yablonski, who had 163 penalty minutes in 41 games last season. "It's just a scrimmage, but we're all still here trying to make the team and it's a little intense. So I dropped the gloves and a had a little fun."
Yes, and both delivered a couple of good blows before the officials stepped in and stopped the bout.
"We both smiled at each other and Neil said, 'Good fight.' We're buddies, but on the ice, sometimes you've got to do it," said Yablonski.
The battles didn't stop there. During the first period, Neil finished a check in the corner and took a punch to the back of his head from Corvo.
Carkner and McGrattan had a discussion that didn't result in a fight.
"There was lots of activity and some good energy in the practice," said Senators GM Bryan Murray. "You like a little conflict to happen, but I thought there were a lot of guys who played and showed what they are capable of doing."
Murray said nobody was given instructions not to fight.
"It wasn't even talked about," he said. "It happens. They play games. Guys run into each other.
"A tough guy fights another tough guy. No, we're not telling anybody that they can or can't do it. We're letting them go out and play.
"If you're a role player and you have a specific thing that you're capable of doing, then maybe you should show that."
TOUGH DAY FOR GERBER
Senators G Martin Gerber, who is hoping to play well enough in this camp to get himself dealt, got off to a difficult start. Gerber allowed four goals on six shots and his only big stop came on a penalty shot by McGrattan, who didn't have any goals in 45 games last season. Of course, this was only the first scrimmage and the Senators aren't concerned. "I don't think (Gerber) had much of a chance on a couple of the goals he let in," said Murray. "We'll just let him play and when he gets a chance to play against an opponent, then we'll see him do what he can do." Expect to see Gerber make the start in a majority of the exhibition games until Ray Emery is fully recovered from his off-season wrist surgery.
OFF THE GLASS
The Senators won't make any immediate cuts. The club will open its minor-league camp in Binghamton on Saturday, but that will mostly be with East Coast Hockey League prospects. The major cut won't be made until the middle of next week when a majority of the exhibition games have been played ... Emery (wrist) and C Mike Fisher (groin) didn't see any action during yesterday's scrimmage ... There wasn't any change with the lines. RW Niko Dimitrakos continued to skate with LW Dany Heatley and C Jason Spezza. "They were both skating pretty well," said Paddock. "It's early, but I thought they've looked good."