Sens relax at Central Park

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

NEW YORK — The Senators got a slice of life in the Big Apple Wednesday.

While they may be stuck in a five-game losing streak and coming off a grim 6-1 loss to the Thrashers on Tuesday, the Senators took a timeout from another humdrum, ho-hum practice and boarded a bus for Central Park to take part in a one-hour skate at the Trump Lasker Rink.

While coach Cory Clouston probably wanted to put his charges through a no-puck workout at their originally scheduled practice at 11:30 a.m. in Manhattan, he liked strength coach Chris Schwartz’s idea to give the players a break that included the outdoor activity.

“I remember coming here on a field trip in Grade 6, my school was about 15 minutes away,” said Senators winger Ryan Shannon, who grew up in nearby Connecticut. “It was a good way to get away (Wednesday) and to lighten things up a little.”

The setting couldn’t have been more perfect for the Senators. The only equipment they wore were red or black jerseys, along with skates and helmets.

It might be in the middle of the big city, but Central Park is a peaceful place. The admission price is $6.25 for adults to skate here on one of the two rinks. As the Senators played European handball, dodgeball and held a mock shootout, school children skated on the surface next to them.

“What we’ve been doing hasn’t been working. It’s been frustrating and we haven’t been producing many wins lately,” said defenceman Chris Phillips. “It was nice to just come out, have some fun, and put some smiles on some of the guys’ faces.”

The rink is also used by the Central Park Hockey League. A big game was scheduled Wednesday night between the Uptowners and The Meatballs at 8:15 p.m.

The rink at the north end of the massive park — which stretches close to 60 city blocks — had never hosted an NHL team. The Rangers have held charity events at the south end of Central Park, but they had never graced this surface.

Perhaps the person who enjoyed the day the most was Tim Cohn, a cop in the New York Police Department who has been in patrolling the Park for a couple of years. A longtime Islanders fan, he was thrilled to meet defenceman Chris Campoli and took a turn in the club’s net.

Like Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliott, Cohn couldn’t stop the ball.

“We have to get away from the game a little bit and have some fun,” said centre Mike Fisher. “It was the best ice we’ve skated on all year.”

Leclaire provided the highlight by finishing up with a signature dance he called “The Flower.”

“It’s a dance move that looks a lot better in the bar than at Central Park,” said Leclaire.


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