CHICAGO — The never-ending saga with “Porcelain” Pascal Leclaire took another turn Friday.
The Senators goaltender, who looked fine in practice Thursday, reported after the morning skate at the United Center that he’d suffered a setback in his return from a lower body injury. He wasn’t able to dress for Friday night’s game.
The Senators say that Leclaire, who has spent more time in the infirmary than he has in the net since he joined the team, should be ready in a day or two. But who knows when he will be back?
Leclaire, who first suffered the injury on Dec. 17 in Denver, was slow getting up after a drill Friday morning, forcing the Senators to make a call to AHL Binghamton to recall rookie Robin Lehner late in the afternoon.
Lehner, who had just returned to the Baby Sens after playing for Sweden at the world junior tournament, finally arrived at the United Center with about four minutes to go in the first period and was on the Senators bench to start the second period.
“After the skate, talking with Pascal and (athletic therapist) Gerry (Townend), he didn’t respond the way we wanted him to after the skate,” said Senators coach Cory Clouston, who has every right to be frustrated with his oft-injured netminder.
“We felt it was in the best interests for him not to put him in a situation where if we needed him, he may reaggravate it even further. We need to make sure he’s 100% if and when he goes back in the net.”
The Senators are hopeful that Leclaire won’t be out of the lineup much longer. Of course, they thought the same thing three weeks ago. Leclaire will be checked out by doctors in Ottawa Saturday morning and the team should have a better idea of his prognosis in the next 48 hours or so.
“We’re not sure of the extent of it. We’re hoping it won’t be much longer than (another day or two),” said Clouston.
QUITE A RISE
Blackhawks LW Bryan Bickell has come a long way from being a scrawny Grade 11 student at Hillcrest high school who did the Senators’ laundry as part of a co-op placement.
The former 67’s winger was all smiles in the Chicago dressing room Friday before facing the Senators as he recounted his days as a dressing room attendant at what was then the Corel Centre.
“I was in Grade 11. I had all my credits and I needed some credits to pass high school,” said Bickell, who won a Cup with the Hawks last spring. “Our trainer said, ‘How about the Senators? They’ll hook you up’ because they’d had guys there before.”
Bickell, 24, had a good laugh about the situation with Senators equipment manager Scott Allegrino and assistant Chris Cook.
“I was giggling about seeing them here and how good I’ve been doing just being here full-time,” said Bickell. “Back then I was cleaning laundry, folding towels and stuff like that. So it is kind of funny looking back.”
In a more serious vein, Bickell said he got great insight into life in the NHL just by watching the way players like Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson prepared.
“I learned a lot about habits as well,” said Bickell before the game. “I know a lot of guys kind of had superstitions they did around the room. To see what it’s like and to get the atmosphere was a good thing.
“To see (Alfredsson) then was cool, but to play against him now it’s going to be even cooler to see him on the ice.”
THINGS I THINK I THINK
If the Senators do decide to trade D Chris Phillips at the deadline, Boston could be a good landing spot for the veteran blueliner. He has played his whole career with Ottawa and it might ease what’s going to be a shock after playing more than 900 games in one uniform. Not sure if the Bruins need a blueliner, but Phillips would be the perfect fit to play with D Zdeno Chara in the post-season. They’ve played together in the past and were a shutdown pairing that was feared by opposition teams ... Two winners of the “Mr. Hockey” award as the top high school player in Minnesota faced off Friday night: Hawks D Nick Leddy (2009) and Ottawa D Brian Lee (2005). Not sure why Lee was in the lineup in place of Matt Carkner ... Saw actor Vince Vaughn in the hotel. He was there promoting his new movie The Dilemma. He did a string of interviews, including one with The NHL Network. Vaughn, who was raised in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, is a huge hockey fan and Blackhawks fan in particular.
HAPPY DAYS FOR HOSSA
Former Senators RW Marian Hossa finally lived his dream last summer.
Three weeks after marrying wife Jana in July, Hossa brought the Stanley Cup he won with Chicago to his home in Trencin, Slovakia, to celebrate with family and the friends he grew up with.
While Hossa, 31, had a big party, he also brought the Cup to a gym where he used to play ball hockey.
“They had room there where we played as little kids and there were some trophies there we won playing ball hockey,” said Hossa. “We brought it in that little room. That is one thing that I will always remember because that was (the trophy) that we always wanted.”
“Only Pavol Demitra touched (the Cup) because he said, ‘(Bleep) it’, I’m going to Russia, I’m not going to get a chance to win it anymore.”
— Hossa on his day with the Cup last summer in Slovakia