Sens continue push for Sundin

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Senators owner Eugene Melnyk went to Hollywood to land the biggest star on the NHL free-agent market -- Mats Sundin.

Melnyk, also in Los Angeles to reinforce his pitch for an Major League Soccer expansion squad, held a face-to-face meeting with the coveted Swede yesterday to let him know the club's interest is genuine.

"I just don't want to start commenting on every team and what takes place in every meeting," Sundin's agent, J.P. Barry, told Sun Media last night.

"Mats and Mr. Melnyk had a good chance to sit down during a meeting last month in Sweden. I'm quite certain that they had a nice visit (yesterday) and the Senators have been one of teams that has kept in regular contact since the summer."

Sundin isn't expected to make a decision on a destination until mid-December and is being courted by as many as 10 NHL teams. Working out in the Los Angeles area for the last month, he has had face-to-face talks with several GMs.

Montreal Canadiens' Bob Gainey was there to meet with him Thursday, while former Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke and Vancouver Canucks' Mike Gillis also have dropped by.

It's believed Melnyk likely met with Sundin to reinforce the club's stance that if Sundin wants to play for the Senators, GM Bryan Murray will make room for him under the salary cap.

While the Senators have struggled out of the gate, many believe they're underachieving and need to get their act together.

Since Sundin isn't going to make a decision any time soon, the next move for the Senators could be a trade.

Murray has been working the phones. So far, it has been just that -- talk.

That did lead to scouts from 12 teams being at the 3-2 shootout loss to the Canadiens Thursday.

Indications are Murray is not being offered a whole lot in return for the likes of Christoph Schubert and Antoine Veremette.

Sources say several teams -- including Florida, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Los Angeles, Minnesota, St. Louis, Anaheim and Vancouver -- are looking for defencemen.

Schubert is an attractive commodity, but teams don't offer much in return when the other side is losing and looking vulnerable.

If the Senators fail to halt their six-game skid this afternoon against the Rangers, the pressure to make changes will intensify with the Senators at the bottom of the Eastern Conference nearing the quarter pole.

Coach Craig Hartsburg bristled at the suggestion the Senators have been reduced to "moral victories."

"You're going to play some great games and lose. But you have to continue to build and say, 'This is how we're playing night in and night out.'

"And, you have to believe you're going to get a reward for it. I believe we will. If we continue to play like this, we will win our share. If we don't play this way, and we step back, then we're going to have to start all over again."


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