These Senators ain't in Bingo any more

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:49 AM ET

It’s only a four-hour drive, but the trip from Binghamton to Ottawa is like going to another world for a Senator.

Wasn’t so long ago that eight players on the team’s NHL roster were living the life of a minor leaguer. Now, for Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Bobby Butler, Francis Lessard, Derek Smith, Zack Smith, plus recent acquisitions Ryan Potulny and Marek Svatos, the hotels are five-star, the travel is on a comfortable charter, and the food is good and plentiful.

“Guys from Bingo were talking about it, and you’re spoiled here,” Condra said. “It’s unbelievable. The other day, Jordan (Silmser, the Senators’ travel manager) was saying it’s a 2½ hour plane trip to Atlanta, and some of the guys get restless. Me and Smitty were laughing. (In Binghamton) we have eight-hour bus trips where you stop one time to go to the bathroom and you’ve got to bring your own food.

“It’s a different world up here. And you’re so lucky to be here. Food all the time, everywhere you need it, whereas there you’re buying your own food, and not getting as much per diem.”

That means you might see Subway sandwich bags, if  not Big Mac wrappers, on the floor of the Bingo bus.

“You don’t do silly things like that,” he said. “It’s still professional hockey. When you’re down there you don’t think anything of it, but when you come up here you realize it ... you realize people don’t have it as easy as you, for sure.”

Of course, everyone knows that making it to the NHL isn’t all about the fame and fortune.

But on the morning after a night in which the Senators were just a little worse than they were the game before, the players should probably receive a gentle reminder of what life is like in the slower lanes.

Who is that mask man?

Craig Anderson is about to get a new mask.

Around these parts, we care very much about such things. Especially when they involve the new Local Hero (plug for Mark Kosmos’ place). On Friday morning, Anderson was grilled for details by the prying Ottawa media.

So goalie, where’s the new face guard?

C.A.: “It’s in the mail. Hopefully it doesn’t get caught up in customs and I get it either today or tomorrow.”

Who designed it for you?

“John Pepe.”

Where’s he from?

“Not sure where he’s out of.”

Does he do all your masks?

“Yeah, he’s been doing them for awhile. Since I started wearing Bob Dylan masks.”

What does it have on it?

“I don’t know, I haven’t seen it.”

Similar to the one you have?

“I’m not sure”

There was a picture on the Internet ... you have a little man or something on the side?

“I don’t know. I didn’t design it.”

Is it like this one you’re using now? What’s on it?

“I don’t know. There’s like a gorilla or something.”

What’s the deal with the one you had in Colorado?

“I don’t know. He’s a snowman type guy? I don’t know.”

So you don’t ask for anything specific? You don’t tell him anything you like?

“I give him a general guideline, but after that, I’m not going to tell an artist how to paint his canvas.”

And where did you say John Pepe is from?

“I don’t know. If I had more information, I’d tell you.”

Did they care about this in Colorado or Florida?

“I don’t know.”

Welcome to Hockey Country.

Dad knows best

Most hockey playing kids get some coaching from dad, and Colin Greening is no exception. From his father Fred, the promising Sens winger receives help with a different part of his game. 

Fred used to work for the CBC in St. John’s, Nfld, as a reporter and producer. It’s with a media background that Fred coached his son’s interview skills. 

“He’s always big on not giving the same old jargon,” said Colin. “The same old ‘hockey talk’, as he talks about ... He says it makes for better television. I don’t know.” With the way he has played since being recalled from Binghamton, big things are expected from Greening as an NHL power-forward. Now, also as a good quote.

Things I think I think

Don’t be too quick to believe Craig Anderson’s bubble burst against the Rangers.

Yes, he should have had the first one, a shot by Vinny Prospal that slipped by his glove on the short side. But he could have used a little help with the rebound.

On the third, Filip Kuba missed the puck at the blue line and Erik Karlsson took a weak wave at Artem Anisimov before he ended up scoring.

And the fourth might have been prevented had Karlsson noticed Derek Stepan streaking by him ... Chris Neil was his feisty self, especially in the third. He almost caused a riot charging to the net. He did what he could to draw Sean Avery into a fight that the Rangers’ pest wanted no part of. And, while he didn’t get an assist on Sergei Gonchar’s goal, Neil played a large role in screening New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist ... Prospal laid a pretty good lick on Brian Lee in the first period, but Jesse Winchester got some revenge and crushed the former Senator pretty good in the second.

C'est what?

“I think there’s still some guys’ names I’m not too sure of. Sometimes I call the wrong name out on the ice, but I think they get the general idea when they hear a screaming voice back there, that they’re about to get hit.”

— New Sens goalie Craig Anderson


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