Sens sign tough guy Lessard

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:24 PM ET

The Senators should be pretty tough to beat in the heavyweight department this season.

The club signed a pair of players to one-year, two-way contracts on Wednesday: Veteran tough guy Francis Lessard, who has racked up 2,357 penalty minutes over 10 seasons and 487 games in the AHL; and former Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman David Hale.

Lessard, 31, replaces Binghamton tough guy Jeremy Yablonksi, who left to join the Islanders.

Of course, the 6-foot-3, 224-lb. Lessard will be a short drive away if the Senators need to beef up for the Battle of Ontario against the Maple Leafs or if they’re looking for muscle when the Boston Bruins come to town.

In 91 NHL games over parts of four seasons with the Thrashers, Lessard has a goal, three assists and 268 PIMs.

“He’s a veteran guy and a good guy,” said Senators assistant GM Tim Murray. “He does provide good depth for us and we think he’s a real heavyweight in the NHL and in the AHL.

“We’re very happy to get a character guy like him. Whichever team he’s on, he’s going to provide leadership and he’s going to be a real deterrent to any of our kids getting taken advantage of. We expect a lot of him off the ice.”

Hale, who suited up for 39 games with the Lightning last season while also spending time with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, has a chance to play some games with the Senators if the club needs help

The 29-year-old has played 302 NHL games over seven seasons with the Devils, Flames, Coyotes and Lightning.

“He has extensive NHL experience. He’s come into camp in good shape and fight for a job right off the start,” said Murray. “He knows by signing a two-way deal, he’s going to get sent to the minors, but he’s going to provide depth.

“We know he can play games in the NHL and provide us with good minutes. We’ll see how he is in camp and in the exhibition games. Then, he’ll decide where he ends up.”

Murray said he has one more signing to make and would like to get the Binghamton coaching situation settled early next week, but added the club’s roster is pretty much set for camp.

MURPHY RETURNS

Rob Murphy is back with the Senators. Only this time, the former centre — selected by the club in the 1992 expansion draft — is going to be trying to find talent after being hired on as a professional scout. Murphy, 41, a Hull native who spent three years in the Phoenix Coyotes organization as an amateur scout, will play a key role on GM Bryan Murray’s staff by keeping an eye on players the club might be interested in acquiring. He will evaluate players at the NHL, AHL and college levels. Murphy will work with Jim Clark and Nick Polano, who has been scouting on a part-time basis.


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