Sens near deal to keep Clouston

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

ATLANTA -- Cory Clouston's future with the Senators could be decided by the end of the season.

GM Bryan Murray told Sun Media he expects to speak with owner Eugene Melnyk in the next couple of weeks about the possibility of removing the interim tag from Clouston's title.

Hired to replace the fired Craig Hartsburg Feb. 2 with the Senators slumping, Clouston has a 15-7-3 record behind the Ottawa bench. More importantly, the 39-year-old has his players competing hard.

Clouston, who was promoted from AHL Binghamton, is under contract to coach the Baby Sens next season.

The Senators could adjust Clouston's deal, perhaps adding another year.

"I want to talk to (Melnyk) over the next little while, but obviously we like what (Clouston) is doing. It shouldn't be a major decision ... Well, it's a major decision, but it shouldn't be that hard in that he certainly has coached very well and the guys have really responded," said Murray.

"I'd like to wind most of the games down (before making a decision). I'm not saying I'm going to wait until the last game (against Toronto on April 11) or anything like that. I'd like to just watch and make sure that everything is on board."

Murray has been pleased with the entire coaching staff -- including assistants Greg Carvel, Luke Richardson and Eli Wilson -- since the shakeup behind the bench.

"They've made nice adjustments in a number of games. They've got some players at the level they should have been playing at most of the year," said Murray.

"They've done a good job."

Comrie wants to stay

Senators F Mike Comrie hasn't had any serious contract talks with the club, but expects his situation will be settled at the end of the season.

Murray and Comrie's agent, Ritch Winter, held brief talks last week in Ottawa. Serious discussions have been put on hold until next month.

"My main focus is to play hard," said Comrie, a potential unrestricted free agent July 1. "As players, that's all you can really control and worry about.

"I love it in Ottawa. I love playing with skilled players and playing in a system that allows you to play is a breath of fresh air. Considering it was a rough year in Long island, the way that system is drawn up, it's just not as easy to play for certain players."

Comrie is in his second stint with the Senators after coming to Ottawa as a rental player during the 2007 Stanley Cup run. To stick around this time, he will likely have to take a big cut from the $4 million US he's making this season.

"With the CBA the way it is, GMs and owners are looking at the way the (salary) structure is, and it's not the same as it was five years ago."

Murray plans talks in the near future. "I have to look at our cap number ... and then we'll have to make a decision.

"(Comrie is) a small guy who scores goals and he's a really clever player. He's got great hands and he seems to fit in with our group. The guys like him and respect him."

Off the glass

D Christoph Schubert, who was nailed by Tuomo Ruutu in the dying minutes of Wednesday's 2-1 loss, is fine. He was sore, but his head was clear ... D Brian Lee (lower body) didn't play vs. the Hurricanes and his status won't be determined until today.


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