Gerber's 'stint' off to good start

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

Martin Gerber's road back to the NHL started last night with a win.

The Senators goaltender turned aside 43 shots in his AHL debut with Binghamton to earn a 6-4 over the Wilkes-Barre Penguins at the Broome County Memorial Arena as Gerber tries to get his game back during a two-week conditioning stint he started on Thursday.

And if attitude counts, Gerber arrived in Binghamton with the a strong outlook and he's looking forward to the chance to play a few games so that either somebody in the NHL takes a chance on him this season or signs him as an unrestricted free agent in the the off-season.

"I wasn't really getting that much ice time up there. And, the way it's been, you know with three guys, we kind of figured it would probably be best to get down here and get some games in your legs and then see what happens," Gerber told the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin yesterday following the morning skate.

"There weren't too many options out there. To me, it made the most sense. I talked with (GM) Bryan (Murray) about it and I'm just going to try to get as much out of it as possible. You have to do the best you can and just prepare yourself to be the best you can be. And, you never know what's happening in that business, so it can change any day."

Gerber, who is making $3.7 million (all terms US) this season in the final year of his contract, asked his agent, Gilles Lupien, to speak to Murray about a trade when rookie Brian Elliott was recalled eight days ago, but the reality is the Senators have already exhausted those possibilities.

"I told Gerbs that sometimes GMs have to make tough decisions, but you can't blame the GM because I don't think there's been many trades this year," said Lupien. "There's been like three trades and most of those involve minor-league players. The Senators have tried. All you see is 'Joe Blow for Joe Blow' and that's it."

Lupien said once the two- week stint is up, he'll sit down with the Senators to discuss what happens next.

There's a possibility Gerber could be sent to Europe if no NHL team wants to take a chance on him. It's almost a certainty he'll play for the Swiss national team at the world championship in the spring.

The Senators could put Gerber on waivers following the conditioning stint and see if a team is willing to pick him up. If not, he could be recalled to Ottawa on re-entry waivers and if team was to claim him, the Senators would be on the hook for half of what will be remaining on his salary (about $1.5 million).

"This is all about the NHL. He wants to get back there. You never know what can happen. Nothing is written in stone," said Lupien.

The Senators felt bad for Gerber.

"We didn't play for Gerb to start the year and it's tough to see a great teammate be a bit of a casualty," said centre Jason Spezza. "We hope he does well down there and that things will work out for him."

Off the glass

Senators D Anton Volchenkov, who has been out since he suffered a shoulder injury on Jan. 3 vs. the Leafs, was back on the ice yesterday, but didn't take any contact. He won't play tonight, but might be in the lineup Tuesday against the Capitals in the final game before the all-star break. "It was good to see him back out there," said coach Craig Hartsburg ... The Habs are taking an unusual approach to tonight's game. While coach Guy Carbonneau rarely holds morning skates anymore, the Habs won't even arrive in town until around noon today. The club will meet at the Bell Centre this morning at 10 a.m., bus to Ottawa, take day rooms at a hotel and then return to Montreal immediately after the game. Carbonneau is likely trying to avoid the crush of media that normally attends a Senators-Habs game ... Senators D Brendan Bell will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game. That means D Christoph Schubert will suit up.


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