Bryan Murray walked down the hall at a quiet Scotiabank Place, looked at the group of assembled reporters on a sunny holiday afternoon and half-jokingly made a wisecrack.
"Sorry fellas," said Murray.
The Senators GM was only kidding, but he was having a hard time hiding his frustration and disappointment on the first day of free agency after the club got shut out on nearly every front with the exception of signing backup goalie Alex Auld to a two-year, $2-million (all terms US) contract.
As reported by Sun Media yesterday, the Senators were active in their pursuit of unrestricted free-agent defenceman Brian Campbell -- Ottawas believed to has offered him a six-year, $42-million deal -- but the former 67's star wound with Chicago after agreeing to an eight-year, $57.12 million deal.
The dollars per year were close, but the length of thedeal was too long for the Senators.
"I just couldn't do it," sighed Murray. "I talked to his agent, Larry Kelly, a number of times, but the money and the term were to a such point where, with our cap, it just wasn't going to work for me. I know I talked to Campbell's people six or seven times (yesterday) and I'm sure that's what they were doing with a variety of teams."
Getting rebuffed by Campbell means the Senators are going to have to turn to Plan B to find a puck-moving defenceman.
Murray was looking at other options: Sources say he had shown interest in UFA blueliner Michal Rozsival, but he elected to re-sign with the Rangers.
The Senators turned their attention to ex-Montreal defenceman Mark Streit last night, but he wound up with Islanders after signing a five-year, $20.25-million deal.
Columbus blueliner Ron Hainsey is another possible option for the Senators.
If getting a blueliner in free agency doesn't work out, a trade offer from the Lightning to send Dan Boyle to the Senators is on the table.
Ottawa has reservations about making the deal because Boyle, 31, has six years remaining on his contract at an average of $6.67 million per season.
The Bolts would likely want either winger Antoine Vermette or defenceman Andrej Meszaros in a deal.
Boyle would have to approve any deal because he has a no-movement clause in his contract.
The Bolts haven't approached the Ottawa native about being moved yet, but league sources say new owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules have talked to every team in the league.
Another option is Anaheim's Mathieu Schneider, who has a year left on a deal that will pay him $5.75 million.
"There's a variety of people still out there," said Murray. "We are talking to other agents as well and we've spoken with some players who have been recommended by their agents to see where we are going to go to if we are going to go anywhere with them.
"It's still a long way from being over. It's going to be a couple of days. We would like to get one more forward and at least one more defencemen."
Murray said with Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher signed to long-term deals, the club couldn't afford to get involved in an eight-year deal with Campbell. Atlanta, sources say, offered Campbell an eight-year, $60-million deal.
"When you look at many of the contracts, and I guess that's the way it is now, the players have leverage," said Murray. "There's a need to fill rosters and there is a balancing effect. That's why certain players get considerable dollars that we couldn't afford.
"We made our commitment to Heatley, Alfredsson, Fisher and Spezza. I've always told our guys, 'Instead of looking for guys you don't know, let's try to keep the players we do know.' That's where we're at."