Senators' dads along for the trip

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

ATLANTA -- Father's Day is arriving early for the Senators.

After touching down in Montreal Friday, they’ll be joined by some very special guests for the final two games of this five-game trip — 17 fathers of the players will be on hand for Saturday’s contest vs. the Canadiens and the Monday afternoon game against the Boston Bruins.

While other teams have done this in the past, this will be the first time the Senators have brought their fathers along for the ride so they can catch a glimpse of what life is like on the road for their sons.

Not only will the dads get a chance to sit with their sons on the plane, they’ll also room with them.

“My dad (Blair) is really excited,” said centre Chris Kelly. “This is going to be an exciting time for all the fathers. This is going to be the first time (on the road with their fathers) for a lot of guys with the organization, and there’s guys who have been here a lot longer than me. It’s going to be nice for them to see how well we travel.

“I’m always telling my dad how well we get treated on the plane and stuff like that. For him to see it all firsthand is going to be pretty neat.”

Some believe the father tradition started with the Nashville Predators, but nobody is completely sure.

Senator Chris Campoli recalled how his father Gino got the chance to participate in two such weekends while the defenceman was with the New York Islanders.

“It’s a great experience. It’s pretty special for the guys,” said Campoli. “The dads have the time of their lives. What better way is there for them to get to enjoy their son playing hockey?”

To be Kovalchuk-ed?

Thrashers LW Ilya Kovalchuk might be the face of the franchise, but he and GM Don Waddell face a big decision: Will the looming unrestricted free agent be re-signed, traded or hit the open market on July 1? With the March 3 trade deadline also looming, Waddell hasn’t ruled out dealing his team’s top player. “Our first priority is to still remains to sign him,” Waddell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s clear ... I was hoping this would be long done by now. We also have to protect the asset. He’s an asset to our franchise. (A trade) still looms as an option, but it’s not my first choice.” Kovalchuk’s agent, Jay Grossman, was in Atlanta last week. Sources say he’s indicated he’s not willing to budge from the $11-million US per-season asking price. “We are at a difference of what the player should be paid,” said Waddell. As for Kovalchuk, he’s not discussing the matter and wouldn’t address questions on his contract before facing the Senators. Sources say the Thrashers haven’t had any formal trade talks with teams over Kovalchuk. The Bruins, Blackhawks, Capitals and Kings would all be interested if he hits the market. Meanwhile, Atlanta players are keeping a close eye on the situation. “A lot of us get asked about it all the time,” said winger Colby Armstrong. “It happens every year to somebody. This year, it’s Kovy’s year. I know our team is professional and we’ve all been on teams where this has happened, so we’ll see what happens.”

Around the boards

Grossman also represents Senators D Anton Volchenkov, who is also poised to become a UFA on July 1. Grossman said he hasn’t had any formal contract talks with GM Bryan Murray, “(but) I’m sure we will.” ... Thrashers season-ticket holder/British Open champ Stewart Cink wasn’t in the building. He’s in Maui preparing for the PGA Tour event this week. Not only does Cink tweet about the Thrashers, his kids play youth hockey in the suburb of Duluth, where the club’s practice facility is located.

This ’n’ that

Ran into Ryan Bowness, the son of Senators’ inaugural coach Rick Bowness. A former player, Ryan is working in the Thrashers’ hockey operations department ... Former Senators D Christoph Schubert, who suited up in the last two Olympics for Germany, was a little shocked to be left off the roster for Vancouver. “There’s nothing much I can say about it. I was obviously a little surprised to be left off.”

Say it ain’t snow!

Atlanta C Todd White, an Ottawa native, had a chuckle last Friday when he awoke to snow on the ground and unseasonably cold weather. Schools were closed. So, just how much snow was there? “About an inch,” White said with a smile ... The weather must have kept the fans away last night.


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