GM fires warning shot

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Bryan Murray sent a strong message to the Senators yesterday to get their act together.

While the Senators GM would have been within his rights to send a few players packing, Murray opted to hold a team meeting -- which included the coaching staff -- before yesterday's practice and flight here.

Coming off an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to the Islanders on Thursday and booed off the ice to boot, the Senators could tumble even farther down the Eastern Conference standings -- not that there's much farther to fall than No. 12 -- if they don't get back on track tonight in the rematch at the Nassau County Coliseum.

Murray said he doesn't want to make a deal just to shake up his team, but there's a belief that could change if the Senators lose tonight and Monday against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

"I'm disappointed ... I don't think we're moving our feet and I don't think we're working as hard as we're capable of working," said Murray.

As reported by Sun Media, Murray has held several discussions with counterparts around the league to try to find help for his struggling club.

The No. 1 priority remains a puck-moving defenceman. It's believed Ottawa has interest in Vancouver's Mattias Ohlund, Florida's Jay Bouwmeester and Colorado has been dangling Jordan Leopold.

Murray indicated he's not going to wait forever to make changes.

"I've thought a lot about it and I've talked with a lot of GMs over the last little while and the last few days, actually," said Murray. "You can do that, but are you going to regret it a little ways down the road because you're giving up a player that is a very good player in this league for maybe the sake of shaking the team up? That's a fine line right now, but very definitely we just can't go on doing what we're doing."

SPEZZA BLAMED MOST

Though the Senators have a guilty bunch of underachievers, nobody has been blamed more than centre Jason Spezza, who has been the brunt of the most criticism -- including some from coach Craig Hartburg.

Three league executives told Sun Media yesterday that to the best of their knowledge Murray hasn't been trying to trade Spezza.

Asked if he could deal Spezza and make the club better, Murray insinuated teams have called, but sounded hesitant to make a move.

"That's an unfair or difficult question. I don't think you can isolate one guy," said Murray. "Can I trade him? I have the ability to trade him if somebody asks me and they will give me whatever in return for him. Would we be a better team? Again, we point the finger so often at Jason and there are things that he does that other players can't do and there are things that he doesn't do that we wish he did. But I can say that about a number of players at this point in time."

Since the club is built around Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Spezza, Murray was also forced to address the issue of whether the Senators have become an average team with three star forwards.

"Who are the three big stars up front? No, we have some real quality players, there's no question. There's a lot more than three players," said Murray. "The problem here is that we continually mention that and continually put the pressure on them. There are more good players on this team that have to play like good players. Some of them we've made commitments to and some we haven't. I think our depth, up front, in particular, is good as most anybody in the league."


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