Mlakar OBJ's CEO of year

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Brian Burke wasn't going to miss this.

After watching his Ducks open the season last night against the Sharks at the HP Pavilion, Burke was to board a plane this morning to fly across the continent so he can be in town to honour his good friend Roy Mlakar at a dinner tonight at the Canadian War Museum.

The Senators president and CEO will be the centre of attention at a black-tie affair to recognize him as the Ottawa Business Journal's 2008 CEO of the year. Not only is the award for his work with the club, but it will also recognize his tireless role in the community.

"It's an honour for sure, but I look at it more for the organization than an individual recognition," said Mlakar. "We have accomplished a great deal over the last decade and we should all be proud."

Burke had high praise for his old friend.

"I think he's one of the top executives in all of pro sports," said Burke. "People think in Canada you can just open the doors and fill the building. That's not the case. I think the franchise is lucky to have him."

Senators GM Bryan Murray said nobody is more deserving of the honour and there are "a thousand untold stories" of the work Mlakar does in the community for charity.

"He's the face of the Ottawa Senators," said Murray. "The amount of business this team does, the amount of attendance on a nightly basis and annual basis and where this team sits as far as ticket sales and sponsorship is all part of what Roy has done here.

"From what I see, the amount of work that is done by the team in the community on such a regular basis, especially the charity work. There's Roger's House at the Children's Hospital and just the total involvement in so many areas in the community is part of what Roy has brought. I don't know if we have the stature in Ottawa if it wasn't for Roy coming and being involved as he is."

THE WAITING GAME

Ottawa C Mike Fisher still isn't sure if he will be able to play in tomorrow's home opener against the Red Wings. Fisher skated with the club in practice yesterday, but no decision will be made on his status until after tomorrow's morning skate. Fisher, who has been troubled by a sore groin, said he's making progress, but isn't ready to make a decision. "I'm feeling all right. I've still got a bit of discomfort and I'm just trying to work through it," said Fisher. "For the most part, I'm able to go fairly hard and it's feeling okay. I'm going to have to see (today) and hopefully it's a little better than it was (yesterday)." Fisher said there is no sense in rushing back. "Obviously, I want to play badly. It's a big game. If I feel I am close to 100% and I can contribute and I won't hurt it again, then I will go," said Fisher. "If not, I will take the week. You always want to play, but I can't control it." If Fisher is ready to play, then coach Craig Hartsburg will likely move F Nick Foligno back to the wing.

TALKING UP ALEX

Hartsburg had high praise for D Alexandre Picard, who was acquired with D Filip Kuba in the trade that sent D Andrej Meszaros to the Bolts. Hartsburg said Picard and Kuba are going to quarterback the club's power play. "We don't look Picard as a young player. He has played in the AHL, he played some last year (in Tampa) and the year before in Philly," said Hartsburg. "He's a guy, to me, who has really taken big steps for us. That trade has really helped our hockey team with two quality defencemen that we know can help us in all special teams situations, with power play and penalty killing."


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