Keep it loose, not lose

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- John Paddock's last practice as Senators coach will be remembered for the fun of it.

Right from the start, with the laughs during the centre-ice stretching led by Luke Richardson. Then, a half-hour or so in, during a shootout competition involving all players.

Elected to pick sides were newcomers Martin Lapointe and Cory Stillman.

Lapointe, at his first Senators practice, was given first choice. He took Mike Fisher, who hasn't picked up a point in his last nine games. Stillman then selected defenceman Mike Commodore. Daniel Alfredsson went in the eighth round to Team Stillman.

The last two guys picked? Yup, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, and they were more distributed then selected.

Team Lapointe won when Martin Gerber stopped Randy Robitaille.

Afterwards, Paddock spoke to the importance of the players keeping loose during a stressful stretch of six defeats that have surrounded a shootout victory over the Flyers Feb. 19 and an overtime win over the Penguins last Saturday.

"Losing isn't as bad as all the stuff that comes with it," Paddock said in what would become a bit of foreshadowing during his last interview as the Senators coach. "Really. That's worse. You can get out of the losing probably easier if you didn't have all the other crap that comes with it. From just having to answer questions, and being dejected about it. If you could just forget about it and joke around a little bit ... but it's hard to. But really, the stuff that comes with losing is worse than losing itself."

The Flyers will no doubt nod their heads if they read those words. Prior to Monday's shootout victory over the Sabres, they had dropped 10 straight and landed on the cusp of the playoff picture.

If Peter Forsberg really was looking at these two teams as the Eastern frontrunners for his services, it's no wonder his foot started to hurt again before deciding to go West.

Lapointe said that Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon asked him where he wanted to be traded Sunday. So far, at least, the veteran winger is happy Ottawa was on his list.

LAPOINTE 'EXCITED'

"They seem like a great bunch of guys," said Lapointe, a native of Ville Ste-Pierre, Que. "Obviously, I want to end up my career with a team that's a contender. When I got the news, I was practising (in Chicago). I was excited about it. My family, too. I've got four kids and a wife and they're real excited to be close to home. It's going to be great."

Lapointe is likely to debut on a line with Fisher and Robitaille.

"They have a lot of talent. obviously they haven't been going well lately, but you've got to look at the positive side. They're still first (or close to it) and you've got to have fun. If you don't have fun, you can't win games ... It's a sport we've all played since we were little boys and it's still a game. You've got to mix some fun in it and put a smile on your face.

"It's going to turn around."

Keeping a stiff upper lip is Fisher, who has now gone pointless in nine games.

"It's a funny game," he said. "I'm working as hard as I can, trying to do little things to contribute. That's the game. That's how you get better. When things don't go well, you have to be a good teammate and pay attention to detail.

"It's weird. I don't really feel like I've played bad at all. That happens to different players, for some reason. I'm going to get out of it, I know that. But it's frustrating, no question."


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