Vermette, Sens sleeping easier

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

BOSTON -- Antoine Vermette opened his eyes from a pre-game nap yesterday around 4 p.m.

Almost immediately he let out a sigh of relief.

"Nobody woke me up," the Senators centre joked. "I figured, I'm either hiding pretty good or I'm not traded."

Rumoured to be a prime piece of bait for GM Bryan Murray in attempts to land a big-name player, Vermette had anxiously been keeping his eye on TV tickers and newspaper clippings in the days leading up to the deadline. Once it passed, Vermette learned that not only would he be staying with his preferred team in his preferred city, but that he'd also be joined by a second francophone in Martin Lapointe.

"It's going to give me a break," Vermette joked. "As much as I love (the attention of the French media), I should get one or two days off now, and I wouldn't mind that.

"It's a good thing it's all over," he said of the deadline crunch. "Now we can focus on the good stuff. Obviously I was a little nervous ... every year, eh? I'm glad it's all over. We all feel the same way.

The Senators were also quite pleased with the addition of Lapointe, especially in light of a knee injury to Chris Neil that will keep the rugged winger out another five weeks.

PACKS JAM

Lapointe gives Ottawa some added jam, they noted, not to mention boosting the number of Stanley Cup rings Murray has added to the dressiing room in the past 15 days to five.

"(Lapointe's) a hard player, he definitely (brings) grit up front, which is good for us," said defenceman Luke Richardson, who has played against Lapointe over the past 15 seasons. "You can always add that, especially with Neiler being out right now.

"He's a good player. He's struggled offensively maybe a little bit since he has left Detroit, but he's got a hard shot, he goes to the net hard, and definitely I'm sure he's going to add some more character in the room. He seems like that type of guy, and he's got the winning experience from being in Detroit. He's definitely got a lot of qualities that are going to help us at this time of year, and in the playoffs.

"He hits hard, he shoots hard, and we'll take that, especially at this time of year. He's a tough guy to play against. There's never an easy shift against him, that's for sure."

Captain Daniel Alfredsson said he really liked the additon of Lapointe, who he believes will "complement" the current roster.

Alfredsson also saw it as a vote of confidence from Murray.

"(Lapointe's) been around a while and he's won before, so he brings that experience," said Alfredsson. "He's going to be a good fit.

"Bryan showed he believes in what we did last year, and that hopefully we're going to go far in the playoffs again. Hopefully we can rally around this and go into the playoffs on the right note."

'ADD CHARACTER'

With respect to the Marian Hossa derby, coach John Paddock said it's time to move forward -- with Lapointe at his disposal.

"You can never have enough guys that have been through it," said Paddock. "I think that's been an objective of Bryan's and the organization's for a while, to add character. You can have character and not have won, and you can have character that's won and been through things, a lot of battles and situations. For sure it's the right kind of deal and message.

"Bryan made the splash a couple or three weeks ago with the type of players (Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore) we wanted to add. We think that's a mix and ingredients that are going to be beneficial as the games become tighter and more physical."

Richardson said a shakeup can often prove harmful.

"To get something good you have to give up something good," he said. "So sometimes, do you really get better, or are you just kind of levelling off the talent? And it takes some time for the guy to fit in. Even though we're struggling a bit, everyone's been here for a while. We should be able to re-adjust quickly, because we know each other, so adding a little bit without really giving up anything is something that might be the key component overall."


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