Sens lifer Neil wants to stay

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

BOSTON -- Chris Neil hopes the clock isn't winding down on his Senators career.

"I'd like to stay. I'd like to be part of (the team's future)," the rugged winger told Sun Media before the Senators officially started playing out the string last night.

The 29-year-old Neil, a potential unrestricted free agent July 1, was on the block at the trade deadline. But the three teams that inquired -- the Sharks, Rangers and Flyers -- all decided to go in different directions.

Making $1.2 million (all terms US) this season, there was a belief Neil was demanding $2.5 million per season to stay. But that number is likely exaggerated, fuelled by speculation he could get that amount on the open market.

Neil's an attractive, physical commodity, but only has three goals this season.

There haven't been any negotiations between Neil's agent, Todd Reynolds, and Senators GM Bryan Murray since the deadline. You can expect there will be talks at the end of the season.

"I've played my whole career here," noted Neil, who was drafted No. 161 overall in the 1998 draft. "Of course, I'd like to stay here. (But) it's got to be the right fit for both sides. I don't know that there's any reason for us to talk right now. I'm sure we'll discuss it at the end of the season."

For now, Neil is disappointed with missing the playoffs for the first time in his eight-year NHL career.

"This hasn't happened to me since junior (with North Bay of the OHL). My first two years we missed the playoffs and we made it my last year (in 1999) and got knocked out four straight by Ottawa," Neil, referring to the 67's, said with a smile.

Off the glass

D Brendan Bell could have a decision to make. Murray doesn't want to send the blueliner to Binghamton for the AHL playoffs because Bell would have to clear waivers. But that might not be the worst thing to happen to the 26-year-old Ottawa native, who has shown he can be a capable NHL blueliner. Bell, who has a two-way deal, could wind up getting claimed as injury insurance and end up in the NHL playoffs. On the possibility of getting sent down, Bell said: "If that's what decide to do with me, I guess I've got to go (to Binghamton), but I feel like I'm a part of this team. This was my team this year. That's a discussion I'll have to have with (assistant GM) Tim (Murray) and Bryan later this week." Ideally, Bell would like to stay in Ottawa next season and he'd like to talk contract ... Former Olympiques C David Krejci won the Bruins' seventh player award. He is only the second European to win the award in its 40-year history. The first was fellow Czech Republic native Vladimir Ruzicka in 1992.

Around the boards

The Senators could be well represented at the world championship starting April 24. It's believed Team Canada has expressed interest in Cs Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly, D Chris Phillips and LW Dany Heatley. "I'd definitely love to go," said Fisher. "It'd give me a chance to extend my year and I think I could have some success on the big ice (in Switzerland). I got the chance to play (there) during the lockout and it was awesome." Fisher played with Zug of the Swiss-A league during the lockout, and had 27 points in 21 games ... Team Sweden has called about Daniel Alfredsson, but he needs to speak to his family before making a decision ... Had dinner with former Senators alternate captain Shawn McEachern Wednesday. The Boston native is living in nearby Marblehead and working as an assistant with the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. McEachern's job includes scouting CJHL teams ... University of Denver unrestricted free-agent C Tyler Bozak has five NHL teams on his radar screen: The Leafs, Avs, Habs, Ducks and Senators. The coveted 23-year-old is expected to make a decision today.

The morning skate

Aaron Ward put in a good word for Bruins teammate Zdeno Chara to win the Norris Trophy. "The one thing that I think encompasses the Norris Trophy is what somebody means to your team. Does (Chara) fulfil every duty as a defenceman? I'm not saying (Washington's) Mike Green doesn't, but if you take Zdeno Chara out of our lineup, the team goes down dramatically," said Ward. "Look at him now, he's Bobby Orr going down the back door. That's his new office there. He's always getting better, whether it's on or off the ice. He's got my vote. Plus, I learned from a mistake I made two months ago when I was filling out a sheet: I said the best captain in the NHL was Shane Doan (in Phoenix). He saw the paper and wouldn't talk to me for a week." ... Saw NESN/Boston broadcaster Jack Edwards, who should just wear a Bruins jersey in the booth. If you haven't seen his call of a hit from behind by Milan Lucic on Flyers D Randy Jones, bring it up on YouTube. The word "homer" isn't strong enough to describe the way Edwards "cackled" after the hit. Disgraceful.

Parting thought

Asked who should be the coach of the year, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli had an obvious choice in Claude Julien. "You know who I think it should be. He's done a great job."

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos