Sens banish Bass to Bingo

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Along with the dejection, there was plenty of determination in Cody Bass' voice as he drove to Binghamton last night.

"It kinda sucks," the 21-year-old centre said of the Senators' decision to demote him, along with goalie Brian Elliott, to their AHL farm team yesterday afternoon. "But it wasn't totally a surprise, either. There are a lot of forwards (in Ottawa) and I'm still young, and I kind of had a little hint when I didn't play in Sweden. I thought I had a decent camp, but now it's going to have to be like the same as last year. I'm going to go down there and prove everyone wrong again."

A fourth-round pick in 2005, Bass never scored more than 16 goals in any of his four OHL seasons. But with the Baby Sens last season, he displayed a type of hard-nosed style that immediately impressed Ottawa GM Bryan Murray.

Bass was summoned to play the final 21 games for the big team last season and also suited up in all four playoff games against Pittsburgh, even scoring one of the Senators' five goals in the series sweep at the hands of the Penguins.

But with the additions of Jarrko Ruutu and Jesse Winchester -- and with the fourth- line sports occupied by veterans Dean McAmmond, Shean Donovan and swingman Christoph Schubert -- Bass became the odd man out.

"I feel the way I play, and what I can bring on and off the ice, I can be a small piece of the puzzle," he said. "Championship teams are like puzzles. And even though it's a small piece, it's still a piece. I want to be part of this organization. I love Ottawa. I'm just going to go back to Binghamton and work my ass off to make sure I get back here.

"The thing about Binghamton, there's such a great bunch of guys down there," added Bass, who will be making his season debut in front of friends and family when the Baby Sens play their opener in Toronto on Friday. "Ottawa talks about having a lot of character in the organization ... they've done a good job of that. Binghamton is like a second family to me. I'll do what I can to help."

ICE CHIPS

C Mike Fisher (groin) skated on his own yesterday and the plan is for him to do so again this morning. If all goes well, he'll practise with the team tomorrow. "It's possible," coach Craig Hartsburg said when asked if Fisher might play Saturday. "We'll see how he does in the next day or so." ... About 750 tickets remain for Saturday's home opener against the Stanley Cup-champion Red Wings. Go figure.

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FANS HAVE THEIR SAY ON GERBER, AULD

Martin Gerber or Alex Auld? Alex Auld or Martin Gerber?

We asked for your opinions on the Senators' goaltending situation and boy did you give them to us.

From Chelmsford, England to Waterloo, fans are split on what to do, but most agree it's too early in the season to panic about who's No. 1.

Read on:

I believe Gerber deserves to be the starter. He is the veteran goaltender and has earned his keep. Two games into the season is no reason to panic. Gerber is No. 1 and Auld is No. 2. If things change as the season progresses, then goaltenders may change their roles. For now, Gerber deserves a chance to bounce back, for it was only one bad game.

Pierre Menard

It is way too early in the season to speculate as to who the Senators should keep, especially after only one outing each. Let's watch a few games first before judging the goalies too harshly. Let's also remember some of the good goaltending Gerber has given the Senators the past.

Robert Gingras

I believe Gerber has had more than a chance to prove himself. I would go with Auld and look for another goalie! Gerber seems to be puck-shy.

Emile Cormier

C'mon, it's only two games into the season, way too early to determine which guy can do the job. Based on past records, neither is that spectacular, but great goalies are few in number and come with big price tags. Right now, there isn't a goalie available that is significantly better that the Sens can afford under the cap. Another 15-20 games should be enough to show Murray whether he has to make a major deal to improve that position. Personally, I think they still need a scoring forward more.

Mike Gafney

There is no goaltender controversy. Gerber is No. 1 and he should start. Auld played OK during the pre-season, but just OK. They each have played one regular-season game -- one. If the team panics now, then we are in a whole heap of trouble. After 20 games is when we should look at who is No. 1.

Brent Goyette

Gerber had a poor game on Saturday, but one game does not make a season. It was the right decision to play Auld on Sunday, to give both goalies a game, and send out a message to Gerber that there is competition for the No. 1 spot. Gerber was the Sens' best player in the playoffs (last spring) and he is the No. 1. He should be given a few games to get his form going. He is a goalie who needs to know he is the No. 1 and that the team has confidence in him. Without this, his confidence and form will dip and the Sens will be in trouble. Auld is a capable backup as he showed in Sweden, but if the Sens are going to achieve anything this season, they need Gerber in top form. Sitting him on the bench for the next game(s) will be a backward step. The Sens need to ensure that they support Gerber and give him every opportunity to succeed, as we do not want another goalie controversy.

Mark Reed

Chelmsford, England, UK

I'd give it to Alex Auld for the simple fact that the Sens won on his night. Let's add on the fact he almost got a shutout and, hey, a little bit of healthy competition between the boys in net is always a good thing. Let the best player be No. 1, I say.

Shawn Vadneau

While Alex Auld played a great game on Sunday, and being so close to the shutout he deserves a shot at Detroit. That being said, I think that Hartsburg has to come back with Gerber for the sake of Gerber's confidence. Gerber has shown that when his coach has confidence in him, he can be spectacular, but when Gerber doubts his coach's confidence, he doubts his own abilities. Auld was signed to be the backup goalie, and over the next 80 games will get his fair share of games. For now, however, Gerber needs to get his groove on.

Kevin Havekes

I'm not surprised by the knee-jerk reaction to anoint Auld the No. 1 goalie after one good start. Spezza was as much at fault for the first loss as Gerber, but he gets let off relatively easy.

Tom Syversen

You guys (Sun Media) are PATHETIC! Two games and you are already trying to stir the pot. How about this: Trade that group you call sports writers (Stevenson, Brennan, Garrioch) to Toronto or Montreal for theatre tickets or a smoked meat sandwich.

Steve Billie, Ottawa

You can't let one good game by Auld be the measuring stick for Gerber. As far as I'm concerned, Auld simply made up for letting in five goals against Montreal (in the pre-season). Gerber is our starting goaltender and you can't ignite another goaltending controversy in Ottawa by benching him by the third game. Let him play, let him get some confidence back, and then if Auld is outperforming him after four weeks, then re-evaluate your position.

Jon Blaszczak

For the life of me, I can't understand the Gerber love- fest in this city. Shouldn't the tale-of-the-tape on this guy be that at 34 years of age he has but one NHL playoff victory under his belt? Will any amount of coddling and kid gloves offered up by management make a difference? I don't know if Auld is the answer, but I am certain that Gerber is not.

Derrick Brose, Ottawa

It is too early in the season to start this goaltender stuff. However, with the up-and-down play of Gerber throughout his Sens career, this still brings me back to what I thought when Gerber was signed two years ago. What the heck was (former GM) John Muckler thinking? He would have been better off lighting the millions spent toward Gerb's contract on fire. Gerber's play is direct proof that this would have been a better investment.

Mike Makahnouk,

Waterloo


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