Sens running on schedule

Sens president Roy Mlakar doesn't agree with the NHL's decision to play two fewer games against...

Sens president Roy Mlakar doesn't agree with the NHL's decision to play two fewer games against division rivals. SUN MEDIA/Sean Kilpatrick

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

On a board in his Scotiabank Place office, Senators president Roy Mlakar has spent hours fine-tuning his team's schedule.

Yesterday, he was pleased with the finished product.

While Mlakar doesn't agree with the NHL's decision to play two fewer games (a total of six) against division rivals like Toronto and Montreal, there's not much he can do.

"It's well-balanced schedule for the fans and to me that's a good thing," said Mlakar. "I thought we should have played less inter-conference games and seven games against our division, but I didn't get the support."

Ticket pricing will be announced soon -- and there will be favourable adjustments, including reintroducing half-price games and special pre-season pricing.

"We've listened to the concerns of our fans, we've lowered some of the prices for our premium games, including games against Toronto. We've added more family games as well," said Mlakar.

Mlakar had the added pressure of trying to work around the 2009 world junior championships, which will be held in Ottawa around Christmas, and the CIS men's basketball tournament in March. With the club on the road during those dates, Mlakar wanted to make sure the proper amount of rest time was built in.

As a result, the Senators will only play three games in four nights 17 times, compared to last season when they faced that situation 23 times.

The longest road trip of the season will be during the Christmas break. The Senators begin an eight-city tour Dec. 23 in Philly. Then, on Boxing Day, they will head to Western Canada to face Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

After returning home on Dec. 31 to celebrate the New Year and take a break, the Senators will travel to Toronto Jan. 3, New Jersey Jan. 4, Buffalo Jan. 6 and Boston Jan. 8.

"There will be a chance for the players to come home during that stretch," said Mlakar. "I can't remember the last time we didn't play on Boxing Day, New Year's Eve or New Year's Day."

The Senators also have a five-game, seven-day road trip in February that includes stops in Minnesota, Nashville and Colorado, plus a six-game, nine-day tour in March that will played against Eastern Conference opponents.

- The Senators will face defenceman Wade Redden, who spent a decade here before leaving as a UFA July 1, for the first time Nov. 15 at Madison Square Garden. He will make his return to Ottawa Nov. 22, for a 3 p.m. game.

- While the Senators will open the season against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins Oct. 4-5 at the Globen Arena in Stockholm, Pittsburgh doesn't make its first visit to Ottawa until Dec. 6. League MVP Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals will be here Nov. 4. The Senators will also play a pre-season game Oct. 2 in Gothenburg against the Frolunda Indians.

- Unlike the past couple of years when the Senators have had some 3 p.m. Saturday games, the only matinee appearance at home is against the Rangers. CBC's television schedule could change that.

- The Senators will open the pre-season Sept. 20 against the Rangers. The club travels to New York Sept. 22. Philly will visit Ottawa Sept. 24, while the Montreal Canadiens are here Sept. 27 in the final game before the Ottawa players pack up for Sweden.

- The Maple Leafs are in Ottawa for Nov. 27, Feb. 28 and March 9 games. The Senators will close their regular season April 11 in Toronto. The Canadiens are in town Nov. 20, Jan. 17 and March 19.

BACK ON THE TEAM

The Senators extended their broadcast agreement with the Team 1200 yesterday. "It's taken a long time, but we're coming off a 10-year deal which was two companies ago," said Mlakar. "CTV has taken over. We're just dealing with new lawyers and new people. Hockey has dominated the Team 1200. It was just a matter of time."


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