Richardson a happy camper

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

In 20 NHL seasons, Luke Richardson has never gone to training camp without a contract.

Until now.

The Senators have extended the 39-year-old Ottawa native a tryout offer and Richardson has eagerly accepted.

"I'm excited ... I'm getting a chance and we'll see what comes of it," the 6-foot-3 and now 212-lb. defenceman said last night. "Obviously, the best scenario would have been to sign a contract, but I understand there's only so many of them to go around.

"I was just looking for a good opportunity. I feel I'm in good shape and I can contribute in the league in different ways. I talked to (GM) Bryan (Murray) and (coach) Craig (Hartsburg) and nobody is going to be jerking anybody's chain. That's all you can ask for, an opportunity."

Richardson joined the Senators last summer and wound up giving them more than expected. He played 76 games, averaging 12:19 of ice time, and had two goals, seven assists, 41 PIMs and a plus-1 rating.

ON SIDELINES

Richardson's role was reduced when Murray took over as coach, however, and he wound up being shuffled to the sidelines when the Senators called up Brian Lee for the stretch run and the playoffs.

"(Richardson's) such a good person and influence," Murray said yesterday. "If he can't play, we will talk about it with him. And if he can, we'll have to sign him to a contract."

The odds of cracking the lineup appear stacked against Richardson. The top four blue-line spots look like they'll belong to Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Jason Smith and Filip Kuba.

Lee is expected to continue his growth as a Senators full-timer, and Alexandre Picard is on a one-way NHL contract.

Meanwhile, swingman Christoph Schubert will be bidding for a full-time job on defence, while Brendan Bell and Matt Carkner will be leading those who will also be pushing for employment.

The Senators are unlikely to ask Richardson to play in Binghamton.

"I don't think I want to do that with him," said Murray. "I think we want to have younger guys down there at this point. If he can't (play in Ottawa), we'll probably have something for him in the organization. He'd be around the coaches. I don't know that he'll have a title like that, but kind of an eye-in-the-sky deal.

'POSITIVE ABOUT HIM'

"He's a guy that's knowledgeable about the position, and the commentary I heard at the end of last year from some of our young guys were really positive about him. And he brings that character that we're trying to have with this team now.

"He wants to play. He's really convinced he can continue. I go over to watch him skate, and there's not anything missing from last year. He's the same player."

Richardson says he's worked hard over the summer, training at Tony Greco's gym, and that he's had "all the salmon and salad I can stuff into this body, laying off the crap lately."

"To go 21 years ... the experience will definitely be a benefit for me," he said. "Hopefully I'll get a shot in exhibition games. That's when you can show your stuff."


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