ATLANTA -- As the Senators moved into the second half of their season last night, the rumblings persist -- as they should in light of the struggles -- that GM Bryan Murray is anxiously trying to make a move.
The rumours about the future of coach Craig Hartsburg linger, of course (when your team is 28th in the league and viewed as underachieving, that's inevitable).
There have apparently been talks between the Senators and the Blue Jackets with Murray trying to address the Senators' blue-line situation.
The best laid plans, eh? Now it remains to be seen how the Jackets acquisition of Jason Williams from the Thrashers just before last night's game might impact a potential deal between Ottawa and Columbus. The name of Antoine Vermette had come up in trade talks between the two clubs, perhaps, Williams satisfies that need for the Blue Jackets, for now.
Sources indicated yesterday Murray has coveted Jackets defencemen Kris Russell or Rostislav Klesla.
There was some talk yesterday the name of Senators centre Mike Fisher had come up in discussions between the two sides, possibly involving defenceman Fedor Tyutin, but the Blue Jackets would appear to be reluctant to take on his deal (who wouldn't after this season so far?) or that of Jason Spezza, another name that has surfaced in rumours. Another factor making a deal involving Tyutin unlikely is he is highly valued within the Columbus organization.
There is no question Vermette's name had been kicking around out there in talks between the Jackets and Senators and he might have been part of a deal for Russell, but apparently both sides thought their guy was more valuable than the other's, which kind of makes it hard to make a deal.
Now, after yesterday's deal, Murray might have to turn somewhere else.
Hear and there
The Thrashers put the 'C' on Ilya Kovalchuk earlier this week, which surely smells like tossing him some status, hopefully persuading him to stick around after next year when he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Next up? Maybe getting him a centre. Nothing against former Predator Rich Peverley, but the 26-year-old waiver pickup, with 73 career NHL games under his belt, isn't exactly the kind of player you would expect to see dishing to Kovalchuk ... The Senators and their entourage didn't get to their hotel until 4 a.m. yesterday morning. The two-hour flight here was preceded by de-icing. It's chilly here, but not that chilly, so hopefully the trip home will be a little shorter.
Hartsburg said he wasn't worried about the short turnaround last night for Senators rookie G Brian Elliott, used to long bus rides in the AHL and three-games-in-three-days weekends. "This is probably an easy trip for him," said the coach. "He might be a guy more used to it than anybody. They played seven games in nine days down there this year." ... The bus from the hotel to the rink here goes by Centennial Olympic Park. I can't pass it without thinking of the events at the Olympics here in 1996 when a bomb ripped through the park. It had particular significance for me since I had walked through the park exactly one week before the blast -- to the hour -- after covering a Dream Team basketball game to head back to the main press centre.
Murray will meet with G Martin Gerber today to determine what the next step will be for the odd man out in the Senators' goaltending mix. Possibilities include helping the Binghamton Senators continue their fine season (they're short in the goaltending department now with Elliott with the big club) or a small chance of finding a job finishing out the season in Europe. In either case, he'd have to be waived through the league and his salary would be off the salary cap. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk would have to swallow the $1.7 million US left on Gerber's deal if he goes to Bingo. Coupled with Ray Emery's buyout, all of a sudden that could be a lot of money to be paying guys not to be in net for you.
A visit with Kanata's Todd White will always touch on a variety of topics (a golf pool, perhaps). The Thrashers centre wouldn't be a bad guy to have in a pool lately, of the hockey sort. Since he ended a four-game streak without a point in early December, he had points in 14-of-16 games (six goals, 14 assists) going into last night ... The 14 rows of section 303 here at the Philips Arena are holding 25 people ... There is still a smattering of boos when former Thrasher Dany Heatley touches the puck here. Thing is, those folks had to wait until almost halfway through the game before getting a chance. That was the first time he carried the puck.
Lemme say this
The ice workers (The Blue Crew) here is made up of several very athletic young women who take care of picking up the pucks and moving the nets around. Their costumes are interesting with skirts shorter than a Senators' winning streak.