Miked up for celebrity status

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

They now work/play side by side, sit as next-stall neighbours in the Senators' dressing room and stand with no one in between them for any team lineup that's order is set alphabetically, by first names.

They could also soon socialize together -- at any event that invites superstar babes and allows them to bring a date.

No one should be happier that the Senators have reacquired Mike Comrie than Mike Fisher, who has opted to keep hush-hush his new "friendship" with country singing sensation Carrie Underwood. Now maybe the magazines, supermarket tabloids and paparazzi will at least direct some of their focus on Comrie's relationship with actress/singer Hilary Duff.

"That's probably a non-issue," Comrie, who has taken over the dressing room spot previously inhabited by Dean McAmmond, said with a chuckle yesterday when the subject of his love life was brought up. "Some people probably like to talk about it. I've been dating my girlfriend for almost a couple of years now. I'm sure she'll enjoy watching hockey in Ottawa. I've explained to her how important hockey is in Canada and she knows that.

"It's the same once you get on the ice. You don't really worry too much about everything else."

Comrie scored 13 goals and 12 assist in 41 games for the 2006-07 Senators, then helped them get to the Stanley Cup final with two goals and four assists in 20 more playoff games. He left as an unrestricted free agent to sign a pair of one-year contracts with the Islanders that this season paid him a $4-million US salary.

Comrie, who was at his best as an Oiler from 2000-2003, is happy to be in a hockey market again. Was it a mistake to leave Ottawa in the first place.

"That's a good question," he said. "The situation I was in, where we had success here, I enjoyed playing in Ottawa and I enjoyed living here. The problem was, at the time, there was a few free agents that hadn't been signed and because of the cap situation, they didn't know how much (cap) room they had.

"It wasn't because I didn't want to stay here. We just didn't know how much room there was. And now that I'm back I'm excited and we'll see how it goes."

Comrie, whose father Bill owns The Brick, has made his own wealth and fame during a 504-game NHL career that has seen him score 151 goals and 180 assists. But at 28, he has already played for five teams, and at some point he'd probably like to establish some roots.

With the Senators unlikely to come close to matching his current wages, Comrie was asked if money will be the primary factor in the signing of his next contract.

"I don't think at any time a player ever truly should realistically think only about that," said Comrie. "It's just my opinion. Sports guys have a short life span in their job, but for me in my situation I'm excited to play in Ottawa. It's a great place to play hockey, it's a great group of guys. You look around the room and there's a lot of skill. It's fun to be back.

"I've played in some hockey markets and I've played in some non-traditional hockey markets. I can count on a couple of hands how many cameras are here right now. You don't always get that. Some players like that, some don't. We know what's at stake. It's fun to play this game with the pressure and the excitement."

Coach Cory Clouston put Comrie on a line with Fisher because he feels the pair can generate some creativity.

"Fish is a big body, creates open space, drives the net well," said Clouston. "And Mike needs guys to open up some room for him. To allow him to utilize his skill."

Clouston and Comrie, a couple of Alberta lads, go way back. Clouston taught Comrie at a hockey school for three years when Bill's son was about seven. They were reunited in 2000 with the WHL's Kootenay Ice, when Clouston was an assistant coach and Comrie took an early leave from the University of Michigan.

Comrie scored 39 goals and 40 assists in just 37 games with the Ice before Edmonton signed him and made him an NHLer.

"He came out of college and had an unbelievable first half of the season," said Clouston, who conferred with GM Bryan Murray before the trade to bring Comrie back to Ottawa was made. "We were disappointed when he signed with Edmonton. We understand why he did that, but he was a huge part of our team. When he first came to us, everyone was talking Memorial Cup. The previous season we had been to the Memorial Cup and when we added him we looked unstoppable. When he left us, that was a pretty big hole to fill. We ended up trading for another 20-year-old, but we just didn't find our rhythm again after he left.

"He's a very good player. Fun to coach."

Good player, good attitude, good in the room, good girlfriend.

Good fit for the Senators, especially alongside Fisher, who he can provide tips to on celebrity dating.

DON.BRENNAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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