Sens appreciate country escape

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

GRAVENHURST -- It might not help them win any hockey games, but the Senators enjoyed their three-day bonding session in cottage country.

They fished, golfed, played cards and watched Monday Night Football during their togetherness session.

Yesterday, to wrap up the vacation, they went for a 45-minute spin at the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre for a Black and White scrimmage, then boarded a flight back to Ottawa.

'WELL WORTH IT'

"It was a lot of fun and well worth it. It was great," said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips. "We were able to show the young guys a few things. We got a chance to break in different guys and have a little fun at the same time.

"By doing this, by having a couple of days without practice and having a fun scrimmage, really puts the emphasis on getting the intensity back up for the last couple of practices. If you were practising all week, it gets a little tiresome and now we can go back and raise that intensity to be ready again for Saturday."

The Senators could have decided to give the players a couple of days off in Ottawa, but coach John Paddock felt it was important to get away. Until the scrimmage yesterday, they'd barely discussed hockey.

"In some ways, it's early in the year to do it because they're still excited about the start of the season," said Paddock. "But you've got to do it when you can do it. Six days of practice would have been pretty long so there needed to be something different."

Centre Jason Spezza said the experience was valuable.

"It was a good idea," said Spezza. "There wasn't much hockey talk in the last couple of days. We really kind of got our mind off things and just relaxed. We got to play some golf. Now, we'll get back to work. We realize we've got a good chance this year and we've got a good team. We're a long way from the playoffs, but we know we can't afford to (struggle) at all."

OFF THE GLASS: It was a good getaway for tough guy Brian McGrattan. He caught an eight-inch pike in the club's three-hour fishing derby on Sunday and scored five goals for the White squad in a 13-11 loss to the Black team yesterday morning. "I don't think he's ever caught a fish in his life," said Paddock ... Senators LW Antoine Vermette (back) was the only player not on the ice for the scrimmage. He is still troubled by some pain, but said he's feeling better and plans to skate today at Scotiabank Place. C Dean McAmmond (shoulder) is still on target for a return against the Devils. LW Nick Foligno, who left Saturday's 4-1 victory over the Panthers, skated and should be fine ... Paddock admitted the return of McAmmond could mean the club will make a roster move because GM Bryan Murray only wants to carry 21 healthy players. "I don't think for two years we've been wanting to be over 20 or 21 players," said Paddock. "Bryan and I haven't necessarily talked about this, but he has the same mindset as (former GM John Muckler). I completely understand that. You don't want guys sitting out, no matter who they are. I would think we'll get down to 21. I think that's the thought process." The easiest move would be sending down Foligno down because he doesn't have to clear waivers, but that might not necessarily be the case ... Former NHLer Kris King grew up near the rink where the Senators held their practice yesterday and returns every summer to hold a hockey school with his father Dave. Kris King's picture hangs prominently in the arena. "That's a great area," said King, who is now working in the NHL's hockey operations office in Toronto. Several hockey players -- including former Red Wings star Steve Yzerman -- own properties in the Muskoka area.


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