Coach is worried -- about his players, not his job

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

BOSTON -- Craig Hartsburg's only concern was coming up with a plan to beat the Bruins.

With speculation swirling that the Senators coach is about to fired, along with GM Bryan Murray -- and a report indicating that decision had already been made -- Hartsburg was just trying to do his job, and keep the distractions out of the dressing room.

"The focus for the coaching staff and the players has to be the games on the ice," said Hartsburg. "That's the most important thing, really. Everything that is going on around us, we all have to be tough mentally and come to the rink and do our jobs. That's what we're here for. I've got 20-some players to worry about and that's more important for me. I'm trying to get my players ready to play here."

Le Journal de Montreal reported that owner Eugene Melnyk had already decided to fire both Hartsburg and Murray and bring in former Leafs coach Pat Quinn and Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson as replacements.

That prompted both Melnyk and Quinn to throw water on the fire.

"I think that report is awfully unfair to Bryan Murray and Craig Hartsburg," Quinn told NHL.com. "As far as I'm concerned, there has not been one iota of mention of a job for me. The report is way off-base."

The players also tried to put aside all the talk in what was a trying time on the road.

"It's not fun for anybody involved with our team," admitted captain Daniel Alfredsson. "We're struggling mightily."

Ice chips

Dany Heatley isn't having an all-star season by his standards, but he will be the Senators' lone representative at the Bell Centre Jan. 24-25. "It's always a fun weekend and it should be a good time in Montreal," said Heatley, who has only two goals in his last 14 games. At least this time Heatley should be able to take part in the all-star game. He was also selected last season, along with Jason Spezza and Alfredsson, but couldn't attend because of a shoulder injury ... Bruins coach Claude Julien says former Senators D Zdeno Chara has returned to Norris Trophy form and should be a candidate this season. "People are going to look at his personal stats and say they're good, but they're not great like some other defencemen in this league, but it's what he brings to the table every night," said Julien. "He's a plus-17 (going into last night) playing against the top players of every team every night. He shuts down those guys extremely well. That, to us, is what makes him one of the best defencemen in the league." ... C Patrice Bergeron will address the Boston media today for the first time since suffering a concussion Dec. 20 ... Senators C Dean McAmmond suited up for his 900th NHL game last night. His first came with the Blackhawks in 1992.

Off the glass

Called up for the first time, Senators D Matt Carkner didn't have an easy time getting from Binghamton to Boston. Carkner was booked on a 2:30 p.m. flight Wednesday, but it kept getting delayed as a storm raged along the Eastern seaboard. So the Senators sent Carkner to Boston in a car. "It wasn't bad. It took about six hours. I got in around midnight," said Carkner. The Winchester native was thrilled, despite the long trek, because father Dennis was to arrive in Boston around noon yesterday to see the game. "I'm just going to try to bring some energy," said Carkner. With Jarkko Ruutu serving his suspension for biting Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters, Carkner dressed as a winger ... Ruutu, speaking to the media for the first time since being suspended, says he isn't paying attention to all the attention he's getting. "I don't really watch TV or read papers, so I don't really know what's going on. I guess when there's not many things to talk about, you can blow the story up pretty big." Asked if he was acting in self-defence, Ruutu said: "There's nothing I really to say about the incident." ... There was a lot of talk about Ruutu, however, in the Bruins dressing room. "I played with him (in Finland), I knew he was nuts, but I didn't know...," said G Tim Thomas. "I watch a lot of UFC. There was a 5-foot-10 guy fighting a big sumo guy one time and he couldn't get the sumo guy off, so he bit the guy's (groin area)." ... Great first-period fight between Chris Neil and Shawn Thornton. A classic.

Things that make you go hmmm....

The Blue Jackets had two scouts at last night's game. GM Scott Howson would love to make a deal. I'm just saying ... A sign held by a woman in the stands at TD BankNorth Garden: "Ottawa bites."


Videos

Photos