Sens and Pens opening next season in Prague?

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

ATLANTA -- The Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins will open the NHL season next year in Prague, according to a rumour on The Hockey News website last night.

Sources said the topic has been discussed in the Senators' camp, but nothing seems to be definite yet.

At first glance it seems like a good matchup.

The league's marquee player in Sidney Crosby, the defending Art Ross and Hart Trophy champ, against a strong, entertaining team in the Senators.

But what's wrong with that picture? What is there, one Czech player on the two teams?

That would be Pittsburgh's Peter Sykora.

Why not send the New York Rangers, who have a handful of Czechs?

That would create a buzz in Prague and, really, why else do it?

HEAR AND THERE: The Senators dodged a 208-lb. bullet named Marian Hossa last night. The Thrashers winger was forced to miss the game vs. his old club with what coach Bob Hartley said was a mild groin strain. Hossa suffered the injury in the waning minutes of Monday's practice when he caught his toe during a skating drill.

"It's minor and it's early in the season, so there's no sense taking a gamble," said Hartley upon announcing Hossa would not play.

"He said, 'I'll get back quick,' but there's no way he's going to come back if he's only 80 or 90%. We'll wait until he's 100% before we put him back on the ice."

In eight games vs. the Senators, Hossa has three goals and 12 assists for 15 points.

THE BUZZ: When asked if he had to guard against his team heaving a sigh of relief in Hossa's absence, Senators coach John Paddock said: "I'm heaving a sigh of relief myself. He's a tremendously dangerous player. He'll create some things on his own. We'll try and take advantage of it." ... Senators PR man Steve Keogh, who was making his last road trip before joining the Canadian Olympic Committee, went out with a good celebrity sighting at dinner Tuesday night: American Idol judge Paula Abdul ... Hartley is nothing if not gracious. When asked what he thought about former Thrasher Dany Heatley's new six-year, $45-million contract, Hartley said: "We all know the reasons why Dany left town. He's the ultimate winner in that trade because he got his life back. He got back on his feet. That's the most positive thing about that trade."

REVELATIONS: Former Senator Todd White has encountered an unexpected benefit of landing as a free agent with the Thrashers. "It's the first team I've been on where I'm not the shortest guy," said White, generously listed at 5-foot-10, but more like 5-8. Shorter than White on the Thrashers are Eric Perrin (listed at 5-9) and Brett Sterling (5-7)...White and his family -- bolstered by Ryan, born June 28 -- bought a house near the Thrashers' practice facility. It's about a 45-50-minute drive -- when the unpredictable Atlanta traffic is flowing. To avoid traffic on game days, White and other Thrashers stay at a hotel across from the rink.

SPECULATIONS: Already without Hossa, the Thrashers had to go without Ilya Kovalchuk for the last half of the first period after Senators forward Mike Fisher thwarted the offensive star's drive to the net and it looked Kovalchuk hurt his right arm or shoulder ... There wasn't a big crowd at Philips Arena. To put it in perspective, you might have had as good a shot at a puck in the crowd as a baseball at a Lynx game.

JUST WONDERING: You know how the guy who usually moves the nets for the Zamboni is some grizzled dude with a bad-fitting helmet who spits a lot? Not here. Young ladies on skates (The Blue Crew) do the job, without a hard hat. There's something to be said for non-traditional hockey markets.

PARTING SHOT: Speaking of Atlanta traffic, remember pitcher Pascual Perez missing a start because he got on the highway and just kept circling the city? The Atlanta goalies might want to try that some nights this season.


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