Funny bone's not hurting

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Pascal Leclaire limped into the room on the cast guarding his right leg, looked around at the assembled media and summed up the situation.

"Just like Columbus," he said, tongue firmly in cheek.

The latest in a long line of anointed saviours arrived in Ottawa after being acquired from the Blue Jackets at the trade deadline, along with a second-round pick, for Antoine Vermette.

But the Senators and their fans will have to wait until next season for Leclaire's debut here.

Recovering from ankle surgery -- the latest in a long line of ailments ... neck, back, knee, hamstring, head, thumb, ankle -- the 26-year-old is ready for the Ottawa pressure cooker

Don't worry, he's heard all about Patrick Lalime, Ray Emery, Damian Rhodes, Tom Barrasso ...

Leclaire knows this is the NHL's Goalie Graveyard, but is determined to be a hero, not its latest victim. He certainly has the right personality for the job. He was laughing, joking and smiling in his first session with the media.

'DO MY STUFF'

Doesn't he know this place has been a black hole for goalies?

"Everybody's been talking about it here," said the likable Leclaire. "I know when you come to Canada, there is pressure all the time and I put pressure on myself as well. I keep hearing all you media guys talking about the different guys who have been here.

"When you get on the ice, you play the game. I will be no different. I will do my stuff. I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself. Even with people saying that, I don't feel like I have to do something special. I just have to come in and do my stuff. The most important thing is to get used to my teammates. I just want to mix with everyone. I should be fine."

Leclaire is suddenly a bright spot in a season that has gone so horribly wrong in so many ways. The Senators sent Martin Gerber packing in January and thought they could turn to rookie Brian Elliott, but he's gone through a meltdown of gigantic proportions.

Since Elliott will be dispatched to Binghamton for the AHL playoffs and likely start the season there next year, Leclaire, who will $3.6 million next season, will have a lot to prove when the puck drops at training camp in September.

The focus now is getting healthy, although Leclaire has been through rehab before. It would appear he has suffered some sort of injury to every part of his body since he was selected eighth overall by Columbus in 2001.

Leclaire will meet with the surgeon who repaired the torn cartilage in the ankle in the next week or so to see if he can take off the walking cast. He noted he's only been moving around lately; the first month "was pretty much my leg up and watching TV."

Naturally, he is frustrated by the injuries.

"I don't want to get hurt again," said Leclaire. "The last two have been long. It's not like I go out and decide to get hurt. It's bad luck. All you can do now is take the time and make sure you heal properly and get back in shape. If I cry, it's not going to solve the problem."

KNOWS HIS LANDMARKS

Leclaire was looking forward to the move. He had lost his job to Steve Mason in Columbus and there wasn't much future for him there. If he wasn't traded at the deadline, he would have been dealt in the off-season.

He is familiar with the Ottawa area, where he has spent a lot of time training in the summer. He has skated with former Senators centre Todd White and Jackets strength and conditioning coach Barry Brennan makes his home here.

"I'm really excited to be here," said Leclaire.

He even knows some of the area's finest landmarks.

"I know the main things: I know the St. Hubert (restaurant) is not very far across the river and I know how to get there."

Leclaire can only hope he doesn't get eaten alive in the Senators net first.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA

Pascal Leclaire limped into the room on the walking cast guarding his right leg, looked around at the assembled crowd of media and briefly summed up the situation as he smiled.

"Just like Columbus," he said, tongue firmly -in -cheek.

The latest in athe long line of anointed saviours arrived in Ottawa after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Wednesday's NHL trade deadline, along with a second-round pick, for Antoine Vermette.

Bin exchange for winger Antoine Vermette, but the Senators and their fans will have to until next season for are going to have wait until next year to see Leclaire's debut here. make his debut.

Recovering from ankle surgery --_ the latest in a long line of ailments that includes his neck, back, knee, hamstring, head, thumb and ankel -- the 26-year-old is ready for the Ottawa he's had in his career _ six weeks ago, Leclaire, 26, is ready for the pressure cooker.

D and don't worry, he's heard of all about guys like Patrick Lalime, Ray Emery, Damian Rhodes, Tom Barrasso ... and anyone else you can name.

Leclaire knows this is the NHL's Goalie Graveyard, but . He is determined to be a hero, not the latest victim. He certainly has the right personality for the job. He was laughing, joking and smiling in his first session with the media.

Doesn't he know this place has been a black hole for goalies?

"Everybody's been talking about it here," said the likable Leclaire. "I know when you come to Canada, there is pressure all the time and I put pressure on myself as well. I want to play. I keep hearing all you media guys talking about the different guys who have been here.

"When you get on the ice, you play the game. I will be no different. I will do my stuff. I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself. Even with people saying that, I don't feel like I have to do something special ... . I just have to come in and do my stuff. The most important thing is to get used to my teammates. I just want to mix with everyone. I should be fine."

Suddenly, Leclaire is a bright spot in a season that has gone so horribly wrong in so many ways. The Senators sent Martin Gerber packing in January and thought they might be able to turn to rookie Brian Elliott, but he's gone through a meltdown of gigantic proportions.

Since Elliott will be dispatched to the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton for the playoffs and likely start the season there next year, Leclaire, who will make $3.6 million next season, will is going to have a lot to prove when the puck is dropped next September at training training camp in September..

"I heard the rumours. I'm from Montreal. My buddies were all calling me saying that I was coming to Ottawa," said Leclaire.

The focus now for Leclaire is getting healthy. He has been through rehab before. It would appear he has suffered some sort of injury to every part of his body in his career since he was selected by former Columbus GM Doug MacLean in the first round, eighth overall, in 2001.

Leclaire will meet with the surgeon who repaired the torn cartilage in the ankle in the next week or so to see if he can take off the walking cast. LeclaireHe noted he's only been moving around lately; because the first month "was pretty much my leg up and watching TV."

Naturally, he is frustrated by the injury history.

"I don't want to get hurt again,. They happen," said Leclaire. "The last two have been long. It's not like I go out and decide to get hurt. It's bad luck. All you can do now is take the time and make sure you heal properly and get back in shape. If I cry, it's not going to solve the problem. for me."

Leclaire said he was's looking forward to being moved the move. He had lost his job to Steve Mason in Columbus and there wasn't much future for him there. If he wasn't moved at the deadline, Leclaire would have been dealt in the off-season and the asking price would have been higher at the draft.

He is familiar with the Ottawa area, where because he has spent a lot of time training here in the summer months. LeclaireHe has skated with former Senators centre Todd White and Jackets strength and conditioning coach Barry Brennan makes his home here.

"I'm really excited to be here," said Leclaire.

He even knows some of the area'scities finest landmarks.

"I know the main things: I know the St. Hubert (restaurant) is not very far across the river and I know how to get there," said Leclaire.

Leclaire can only hope he doesn't get eaten alive in the Senators' net first..

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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