Welcome, Mount Sutton

DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 PM ET

NORTH HILLS, N.C. — The intimidating defenceman acquired by the Senators 24 hours before the trade deadline received a little scare as he walked into his new team’s dressing room Wednesday.

Standing in a vulture-like circle was a large media scrum, probably unlike anything a former Islander-Thrasher-Wild-Shark would have ever seen before.

“Yikes,” a grinning Andy Sutton said as he approached the 15 or so Ottawa reporters anticipating his arrival for an interview. “Sorry to keep you guys waiting.”

Welcome to a Canadian hockey market, Mount Sutton.

“It’s definitely different,” the 34-year old said of the attention. “It goes with the territory. Probably early on in my career, I may not have been as ready for it, but as you get a little older I think you get used to things, and more comfortable with yourself, so it’s kind of exciting, actually.”

Sutton, a friendly giant (at least off the ice) who becomes the biggest Senator at 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, will make his debut Thursday in Carolina

If Filip Kuba were playing, Sutton would likely hop the boards with Matt Carkner in a Twin Towers pairing.

Alas, Kuba is expected to miss the game with a lower-body injury not considered serious, and Sutton is therefore likely to play his first game  with rookie Erik Karlsson in the 3-4 tandem.

“We’re not going to use him on the power play, but he’s going to get a lot of ice time, a lot of minutes, quality minutes,” said coach Cory Clouston, who has noticed the Kingston native possess a “real good shot” and a genuine excitement of being a Senator.

This is still the honeymoon, however. As the final deadline acquisition of a team that believes in its chances of contending for the conference title, Sutton will be under pressure to perform.

Not to produce offensively — his best of 11 NHL seasons saw him score 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) with Atlanta in 2005-06 — but to be the physical, responsible shot-blocking blueliner GM Bryan Murray brought him in to be.

“That’s probably the one thing I’m going to guard against,” said Sutton, who will No. 5. “This is already a great group and for me to come in here and try to be something I’m not, isn’t the smartest thing to do. So I’m just going to focus on playing real hard and moving the puck and doing my thing.”

Sutton, who has only four games of playoff experience, is already fired up about the post-season and Ottawa’s chances. His last memory of the Senators was their three-goal, third-period comeback to beat his Islanders Feb. 14.

“All great teams like that, you can’t let down for a second,” he said. “They’ve got a high-octane offence and if you let down for a second, they can close the gap in a game like that and figure out a way to win it.  It’s what great teams do.”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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