Something's in the hair

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

As the newest Senators walked into Scotiabank Place shortly before noon yesterday, it really should have been to the theme song from The Odd Couple.

Duh-duh duh-duh duh-duhhh, duh-duh-duh duh-duh-duh duhhhh ...

At first, second and third glance, Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore are as opposite as opposite can be.

Considerably smaller-looking than his 6-foot, 200-lb. listing in the Carolina Hurricanes media guide, Stillman is Tony Randall. He showed up in the shirt with buttons, the dress slacks, the conservative brown hair and cut you see on most businessmen. He's a sneaky-smooth offensive player and he wears the part well.

If Stillman were a fan, you'd first look for him in a corporate box on the first level.

Meanwhile, there's nothing fancy about the 6-foot-5, 230-lb. Commodore. He is Jack Klugman. He arrived at the rink in jeans, a pullover and Baltimore Orioles cap. He wore a beard and a big grin.

If he's part of the crowd, he's in the Cheapseats, all the way, then hustling over to Marshy's for one at the final buzzer.

"The fans will like him," said Senators winger Shean Donovan, a teammate of Commodore's during the Calgary Flames' playoff run in 2004. "The guys will like him, too."

Under the hat is Commodore's signature: The high messy mane of red hair that grows as long as a season.

From stints in New Jersey, Calgary, Carolina and now Ottawa ... seems it always matches his sweater.

"That may be the prerequisite," Commodore said, his deep voice interrupted by a laugh. "I only go to teams with red jerseys, I guess. I'm hoping I look good in Senator red."

Commodore first grew his hair out when he played at the University of North Dakota. The other students got a kick out of it and he liked how easy it was to manage.

He remembered this four years ago, and when he was summoned late in the season from the minors by the Flames, he decided to relive his youth. Commodore hadn't seen a barber since the season started, and he vowed not to again until Calgary's Stanley Cup run ended. That wound up being 20 games, to the finals in what would ultimately be a loss to Stillman and the Lightning. Commodore's head became famous. Flames fans wore big red wigs to games in tribute to the defenceman's "Ogie Oglethorpian" mass of red hair.

'COMING-OUT PARTY'

"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for that, to be honest with you," Commodore said of the look and the following it created. "It was kind of my coming-out party.

"That year with the Flames, I was in the minors for the first half of the year and I really just didn't cut my hair more out of laziness than anything else. I just kind of kept it going and then we had that playoff run.

"Next thing I knew, people were wearing it in the stands, and it was all over. I was on the Hockey News and it really just blew up in my face. That wasn't the point of it, it just kind of happened."

In Carolina, Commodore threw a white bathrobe into his trademark look. You may remember Don Cherry wearing one on Coach's Corner after losing a bet. At the same time, he maintained his hair-raising escapades.

"Maybe it's sad, I don't know," said Commodore, who raises money for charity when he does take the scissors to his locks at the end of the season. "But to be honest with you, it is a big, big part of the reason why I'm here today."

Not in the eyes of the Senators, of course. As GM of the Anaheim Ducks, GM Bryan Murray traded Commodore to the Flames some five seasons ago. Now, in charge of a Senators team that desperately needed some muscle on the blue line, Murray answered the prayers of coach John Paddock.

"When I think about Commodore, I think along the lines of (Montreal's Mike) Komisarek and (Philadelphia's) Jason Smith," said Paddock. "There was a misconception when the (new NHL) came in ... people thought it was all about puck movement. You still need big players, big defencemen. You've got to have somebody that makes the other team's forwards know they are going to get hit and there's a possibility they are going to get hurt."

Martin Gerber, who played with both newcomers in Carolina, likes another combination Commodore offers.

"He's not afraid to drop the gloves," said the goalie. "And he's a pretty funny guy."

"I was very, very excited to learn that I was coming here to Ottawa, coming to a fantastic team," said the 28-year old Commodore. "I'm just going to look to fit in and help out as best I can, not rock the boat, and just try and fit in.

"I wasn't surprised I was traded, but I had no idea. When I found out, I was sitting in my hotel room in Boston, just kind of playing around on the computer. The phone rang, I had a meeting with (GM) Jimmy Rutherford ... I knew something must be up. I don't have too many meetings with him. I was very, very happy to find out I was going to a first-place team."

He was equally pleased to learn he would be paired, at least for now, with fellow Westerner Wade Redden.

"I know Wade a little bit," Commodore said. "I'm going to ride his coat tails and I hope it works out great."

And his flow will grow. Commodore figures Sept. 10 was the last time he had it snipped.

"That's au naturel," he said of the style. "There's no work put into this. Just sweat it out when it gets hot. That's it, that's all it takes."

And he's not about to alter what's worked for him, either.

"I can't change that now," Commodore said. "I think it's going to be every year of my career. There won't be any haircuts here in Ottawa."

Senators fans hope it gets longer than ever.


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